JoJo Robertson vividly recollects the to start with time she laid eyes on the golfing swing of Sofia Garcia. The Texas Tech College women’s mentor was in the desert of Arizona at an American Junior Golf Association event to recruit a player who was paired with Garcia. But it was Garcia who saved Robertson’s interest during the round.
Then, as Robertson was about to depart Grayhawk Golfing Club for the day, she glanced in excess of to the practice selection and there was only one particular participant out there banging balls. It was Garcia.
“I just keep in mind it staying so sizzling and she was chipping and putting and was carrying out anything you appreciate to see one of your gamers do,” Robertson explained. “Even at her young age you could inform she was a robust particular person.”
Garcia was just 14 then, so Robertson experienced to hold out a complete calendar year in purchase to commence recruiting the teenager by way of electronic mail. And Garcia wasn’t just from a golfing hotbed. Her home nation of Paraguay in South America has just 6 golf programs, and boys and women routinely participate in jointly in junior tournaments in purchase to fill out the roster.
And Garcia grew up loving soccer, Paraguay’s activity of choice. Golf was not even on the radar in a small nation the place big swaths of swampland, subtropical forest and scrubland dominate the landscape, not lush golfing backlinks.
“Since I can keep in mind I preferred sports activities, primarily soccer, and I grew up playing soccer a whole lot and I assumed I wished to do that,” claimed Garcia, one particular of the promising younger professionals on the Epson Tour, the qualifying tour of the LPGA. “But my dad didn’t genuinely see a foreseeable future in soccer, so we experienced a whole lot of discussions involving me, my mom and my father.
“They swayed me as an alternative of doing crew sports to consider some personal athletics. So after a complete 12 months of playing with plastic golf equipment they convinced me. I was 8 a long time old. I begun enjoying golfing on the weekends. At the starting I was just striving to hit that minor ball and make it fly. But then I experienced some competition and some accomplishment it obtained me likely. It was a complete new entire world for me.”
At 9 decades previous, Garcia remembers symbolizing her state in a match in Argentina.
“That was a massive offer for me,” Garcia mentioned. “Since I was younger I have usually experienced the ability to look forward and one of the things I preferred viewing was the soccer online games and looking at our crew represent our place. So, I seemed at golfing as a good opportunity to enjoy sporting activities and to compete. Everything variety of pulled together following that.”
Regardless of not obtaining a abundant golf background, there were a handful of gamers to appear up to back again then, such as Carlos Franco, who has 25 specialist wins, and previous LPGA participant Julieta Granada, who was the flagbearer for Paraguay in the 2016 Summertime Olympics.
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Continue to, as Garcia’s golf recreation progressed she was not guaranteed she preferred to go to higher education in the United States.
“It’s not uncomplicated to go away for the reason that household is incredibly essential to me both culturally and personally,” Garcia mentioned. “So, when I was 14 or 15 I considered to myself ‘I’m likely to flip professional,’ and then actuality hit simply because it is not as uncomplicated as it seems. You are striving to enjoy golf in The united states, and certainly competitors is level of competition, and the ball is the ball, but the programs are so various.
“Acquiring used to living in the U.S. is not an effortless issue and college was undoubtedly a transition from the golfing viewpoint. Wanting again for me the five yrs I used at Texas Tech I grew a ton as a man or woman – equally maturity-sensible and golf-sensible.”
Garcia remaining Texas Tech past calendar year as just one of its very best woman golfers ever as her occupation took off, minus a single hiccup. In the slide of her sophomore calendar year, she couldn’t resist the want to maintain actively playing soccer. All through a pickup sport, she tore a ligament in her knee and had to redshirt.
“A mistake was made, enjoying soccer, but she learned from it,” Robertson stated. “Our head trainer for women’s golfing is also the coach for the football team and his comment was ‘I desire our soccer gamers ended up half as tricky as Sofia.’ She under no circumstances skipped a day of rehab and she actually came again more quickly than he believed and she played in the South American Olympics, and in her initially match in in excess of a yr, concluded third and got the bronze medal. Which is just another case in point of how established she is and how inclined she is to do the operate.”
Challenging perform is what is needed on the Epson Tour, in which vacation, lodging and overall emphasis can be as challenging as the level of competition.
In the initial 10 gatherings of her rookie time, Garcia has three top 10s and is 14th on the funds record. Nonetheless, she has also missed five cuts.
“Her aims are superior and she’s a pretty driven individual,” Robertson mentioned. “She just has to hold reminding herself that enjoying on the Epson Tour is the upcoming step, and that is how she’s heading to get to where she needs to be. It can be really hard, but she has experienced a tiny bit of achievement and what I see with Sofia is when she has some momentum on her aspect she can participate in with any one. She just requires that very little bit of self-assurance to notice she belongs out there.”
The emphasize of Garcia’s year so significantly was qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open up previously this month at Pine Needles, and then building the minimize to end tied for 60th in her first qualified main.
“When I qualified for the Women’s Open I couldn’t pretty grasp it till I walked into the locker home,” said the 23-12 months-old Garcia. “It was truly cool. The to start with specialist golfer I saw was Annika Sorenstam. Later on I launched myself to her. I was like ‘Wait, wherever am I once more?’’’
“When you think about how few golfing courses there are in Paraguay and just what she has accomplished it’s really impressive,” Robertson claimed. “I would not be amazed at all if she manufactured the LPGA Tour. She is unquestionably preparing herself to be the very best.”