The path to the PGA TOUR is not linear, and it is not straightforward. Finding a word to describe my trip here seems almost impossible; however, I can try with three: Never give up.
Before the pandemic hit in 2020, I had already earned enough points to secure my PGA TOUR card in a normal Korn Ferry Tour season, but the inevitable happened and we started all over again. Knowing that I was back to square one took a toll on me, especially my game. That’s when the power of a good assist system kicked in.
A good friend of mine sat me down and gave me some of that hard love that everyone needs from time to time. He said I was going to have to play well my whole life, and that I should take this “setback” as a new challenge. I had to find my way back and give everything to move forward. As simple as it sounds, it managed to flip the switch inside of me and two more wins later here I am about to start my first full season on the PGA TOUR.
During the BMW Charity Pro-Am, all I hoped for was to play four solid rounds of golf.
I had already won the week before, and the weight of winning my PGA TOUR card was on my shoulders. I liked the way I played. Life was good. But by the time the winning putt fell… it got even better.
Getting on the first tee at my first PGA TOUR event brought back the same nervousness I felt during my very first golf tournament. Boy, if I had missed them.
Playing on the PGA TOUR has been my dream since I was a kid, and being here, grateful as I am, I want more. I want to win; I want to stay competitive. I want to be among the best. And I think it’s safe to say that’s a sentiment we all share here. As a TOUR player, you aim to enjoy the season while pushing yourself enough to improve your game and win. Competitiveness pushes us in turn, not only against each other, but against ourselves.
Sports are united by competitiveness; that’s why i love them all so much. Trying to win and stay competitive with yourself pushes you every day to always have room for improvement. It’s what keeps you spending hours on the green or on the pit, even though you know your game will never be perfect. Try to find a way to appropriate a shot, to push yourself to push the ball further than the day before, and the one before. It’s that feeling – that relentlessness – of continuing to improve that gets you where you want to be. In my case, it was the PGA TOUR.
Even with the year I had – three wins on the Korn Ferry Tour, two top 10s on the PGA TOUR – representing Chile at the Olympics became the icing on the cake of one of the best years of my career. until now. Tokyo was a loop moment, without a doubt.
When I was younger, two Chilean athletes, tennis players Fernando Gonzales and Nicolás Massú, achieved something incredible for Chile. They managed to unite the country at the 2004 Athens Olympics, winning gold in both doubles and singles. Being at the Olympics this year with Joaco (Niemann), we thought maybe we could do something like that for Chile, especially in the days we live in where we could all use a reason to smile. Seeing the response we received on social media and knowing the joy we were able to bring to our country was unlike anything we had experienced before.
One of my goals for this season is obvious: I want to win. But on top of that I want to help develop the game both in Chile and Latin America. I have learned so much every step of the way that brought me here, from the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica – where I had my first big success winning in 2016 – to the Korn Ferry TOUR and now finally to the PGA TOUR, the amount of Latino talent that runs through them all is beyond inspiration. There has been an explosion of Latino talent over the past few years on TOUR and it’s great to be a part of that change. Just like us, I’m sure there will be even more players coming here in the near future. And it is thanks to all that Joaco, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Sebastián Munoz and many others have done. They are living proof that Latino players can succeed on the TOUR and win.
This is why playing on the PGA TOUR is so important. Now there are two Chilean players on the TOUR, but I know that in a few years there will be more of us here. I’m sure Chile and the rest of Latin America are full of talent. As long as we all play our part, it can lead to great things. I now have the privilege of calling myself a PGA TOUR player. The work paid off. The secret? Just three words: never give up.