Former ETSU star on the air at Golf Channel

Joe Avento • Updated Jul 6, 2017 at 9:35 PM

Rex Kuramoto always knew he wanted to make his living in professional golf.

What he didn’t know was that it would be behind a microphone.

Kuramoto, a two-time All-American at East Tennessee State University, has spent the last 10 years working for Golf Channel. He is a color commentator on Golf Channel Japan.

It’s a profession that has kept him in close touch with the game and its players, especially those from his native country.

Kuramoto was quite a player in his own right.

After transferring from Oklahoma State when Fred Warren was hired in 1986 to resurrect an ETSU program that had been shut down, Kuramoto became a star. He went on to win the 1989 Tennessee State Amateur at the Honors Course, which propelled him to victories in the Southern Conference tournament and the Japan Amateur — and a professional career. He also finished in the top 10 of the NCAA Championship.

Q: How enjoyable is it to still be involved in golf as part of your occupation? It looks like you are having fun.

Kuramoto: I love it. It was one of my dreams to do the work that I have been doing, beside playing on tour.

I have accomplished both. I wish I would have done better on tour in my time. But spending about 10 years in Japan PGA Tour was not too bad.

I have gone to almost all the majors on site last five years as on-site reporter and have had the best seat to watch … and got paid. Can not beat it.

Q: Did you play pro golf for a while after college?

Kuramoto: I played on the European Tour two years before going back to play in Japan. I played a total of 10 years in the world.

Q: You played in the British Open in 1990 at St. Andrews. What do you remember about playing in a major championship?.

Kuramoto: That was the only major I played. I was too young to appreciate that experience and I was thinking to play more majors after that time. But it did not go the way I was thinking. But one is better than most golfers in the world.

Q: I know you have had dealings with Hidecki Matsuyama. He’s ranked second in the Fed Ex Cup points list and really had it going in the U.S. Open at at Erin Hills. How good can he be?

Kuramoto: He is the best Japanese ever, for sure. He can be as good as he wants to be. His physical and golf talent is exceptional, but his love of the game is what has made him who he is.

Honestly I have never seen anyone love this game more than him and he is always willing to work to get it better. As long as he does not lose interest in the game he will win a major, possibly majors.

Q: Speaking of Erin Hills, what was it like working at a U.S. Open? And what’s it like to work major championships in general?

Kuramoto: Majors are completely different animals from rest. The course settings are different for sure, but the will of players and interest of media and gallery make events so special. I love to watch players prepare and perform their best. It is simply exciting and it never gets old.

Q: Do you keep up with ETSU, and is it nice for you to see the success the program has had throughout the years when you were one of the guys who helped bring it to prominence?

Kuramoto: Of course. Bucs are always in my heart, especially in golf and basketball. Same way as my hometown pro baseball team, Hiroshima Carp.

Q: Were you aware that coach Fred Warren has signed a Japanese player, Shiso Go, in this year’s recruiting class?

Kuramoto: Yes. I am excited to have a new Japanese player next year, Mr. Go. I would do anything to help his career at ETSU.

Q: How much did attending ETSU help in paving the way for your success?

Kuramoto: My experience at ETSU was a big reason for sure. I had no chance to make it on tour nor in the golf business without it. Everything started from Johnson City.

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