Mexican golfers, an investment that pays off in success

Between 2004 and 2009, the mexican golf lived a historic world rise under the baton of Lorena Ochoa, who was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame of the LPGA thanks to his numerous winners of 27 titles. It seemed that Mexico’s prominence in this sport would decline after Ochoa’s retirement, but today a new generation has flourished that maintains the country’s competitiveness.

The latest test is Mexico Open at Vidanta, in which 10 Mexican golfers will be participating, a record number for a PGA Tour tournament. An outstanding theme within this legion is that three are players who are still at the amateur level, while another three also became outstanding products of the national structure of this sport.

“I would qualify it as a historic achievement of Mexican golf. For the Mexican Golf Federation (FMG) it is very significant but it also tells us that we must continue down the path of generating different support platforms for everyone, children, seniors and amateurs. The FMG must be facing and continue promoting Mexican golf because this unprecedented event is something that encourages us a lot, motivates us and is going to leave a mark, the children are going to follow it because it is something aspirational that they are going to want to reach”, defines Guillermo Amerena, president of the Government Relations and Media Committee of the Mexican Golf Federation, in an interview with The Economist.

The three Mexican amateurs participating in the Vidanta Open are Santiago De la Fuente, 20; Christopher Islands, 19; and Antonio Safa, 18. Thanks to their good performance from the children’s categories in the tournaments organized by the FMG, all three are currently receiving scholarships in the United States, at the universities of Arkansas Tech, Oregon and Missouri, respectively, which has allowed to raise its level by having more competitions with international players.

The remaining seven nationals are Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Roberto Díaz, Álvaro Ortiz, Isidro Benítez, Armando Favela and Manuel Inman, professionals who range between 26 and 47 years old (Álvaro Ortiz is the youngest and Manuel Inman the oldest). Of them, at least Díaz, Inman and Álvaro Ortiz had an outstanding performance in the children’s and youth tournaments of Mexico before jumping to other types of international events.

“It would be impossible to have players of the highest quality in golf at a Latin American and international level if it were not for previous work from the children’s and youth tours, the national and interzone tournaments and all those that the FMG pays to send a representative to name of Mexico. Everything is a long work that starts at seven years of age, it begins with motivating children to play and compete, but also to learn to know the golf competition and know how to win places to represent their club, federation or country”.

According to figures shared with this newspaper by Guillermo Amerena, the FMG allocates almost a third of its annual budget (29.83%) to the development of children and young golfers, broken down as follows: 18.16% to the management of children’s tournaments -juveniles (payment of uniforms, logistics and remuneration of personnel) and 11.67% in the work with the children’s and youth national teams. It is an investment that is being felt today by names such as Santiago De la Fuente, Cristóbal Islas and Antonio Safa, who just a few months ago were competing in tournaments along with other teenagers and are now playing for a championship on the most important golf circuit in the world, the PGA Tours.

“A large part of the FMG budget, which comes from the contributions of the affiliated clubs, is destined to the promotion, support and sustenance of children-youth and amateur golf, to the organization of tournaments, trips, to pay the coaches, coaches, get sponsorships, pay for equipment, golf balls, clubs and hotels. A high percentage of the budget is allocated to this platform, which is undoubtedly one of the strongest pillars of the FMG: children’s and youth golf”, highlights the FMG representative.

He also points out that thanks to the relevant performance at the international level that elements such as Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz have had in the men’s category, as well as Gaby López and María Fassi in the women’s category, the interest of children and young people in approaching golf has doubled. in the last four years, since the average registration for national tournaments has reached 300 applicants, when before the figure was between 120 and 130. However, Amerena emphasizes that this is not an exclusive achievement of the administration headed by the current president. of the FMG, Fernando Lemmen-Meyer, who took office in 2021.

“Something fundamental is that we are creating alliances, the monitoring committee for professionals and the national team, the president of the FMG himself, we are all building alliances with professional circuits so that we have this dumbbell that professional golfers are very close to amateurs. in Mexico. In previous years it had not been possible to give this type of communication, now we want the experiences of our players on the PGA Tour to give clinics and talks to children and young people, it is something that we want to exploit not only because of the level of training, but also the quality and quality that these golfers can bring us, that the amateur feels very close to his professional, learns from him and has confidence in him”.

The chairman of the Government Relations and Media Committee highlights the recent alliances achieved with the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Latin American Amateur Championship (LAAC), which opened the participation of the three young amateurs in the PGA Tour at Vidanta.

“Eight years ago we saw Carlos Ortiz and Abraham Ancer start like this, I hope that in a couple of years we will see these three players (Antonio, Cristóbal and Santiago) in the qualifying rounds for a PGA Tour and give us the surprise of being at the top circuit. All this is a great teaching for our players, this experience represents a level of blanking of non-quantifiable dimensions, seeing how a professional prepares, how he practices, what he thinks, playing with them, seeing what they think the caddies, everything is an incomparable learning. That they have these experiences is something very important so that in the coming years these players continue to give us a lot of glory at an international level”, concludes Guillermo Amerena.

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