Just like any sports, golf is timeless.
Professional golfer Angelo Que, one of the Philippines’ elite players of this timeless sport, believes Filipinos could excel and dominate the field globally, somewhat literally.
Currently, the sport is played around the world like in the 2016 Rio Olympics set on August 5 to 10. Thousands of players are now in various qualifying tournaments in every corner of the world.
Some Filipinos are trying their luck at present playing in any International Golf Federation (IGF)-sanctioned tours to accumulate the needed points and get into the Top 60 of qualified players.
“Golf is timeless because it is a sport, where you can play all your life and still learn from it in every game and every tournament no matter the outcome,” Que told The Manila Times in an interview. “There are many Filipinos who love playing golf.”
According to the rules set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), 60 slots will be available each for the men’s and women’s competitions. World golf rankings will serve as a method of determining the eligibility.
“I have always believed that Filipinos could excel internationally in golf, especially in the coming Olympics,” Que said. “We have excelled in the present and in the past, not just in golf, but in other sports as well. As long as we are given the chance to do so, we will excel.”
According to the IGF website (www.igfgolf.org), the world’s 15 top elite golfers are automatically eligible to get a slot in the Olympics, but only maximum of four players from a given country is allowed.
The non-top 15 players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players inside the top 15.
Golf veteran sportswriter Al Mendoza, who covered many national golf tournaments in the past, believes Filipino golfer Miguel Tabuena has a strong chance of qualifying in the Rio Olympics if he stays inside the top 60 IGF world ranking.
Tabuena, 21, is currently No. 37.
“We could qualify in the golf Olympics,” Mendoza said. “Miguel Tabuena might be our representative to Rio. We have a chance to win [the gold], although it is a long shot.”
The presence of international golfers seems to be the most daunting to Filipino aspirants.
Based on the latest Olympic rankings, American Jordan Spieth is No. 1, followed by Filipino-Australian Jason Day at No. 2 and Irishman Rory Mcllroy at No. 3. American golfers Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler are in No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.
The 37-year-old Que, meanwhile, encourages his fellow Filipinos, especially the youth, to play golf.
“If ever the country produces more young promising golfers, the country will have a strong chance of producing the best golfers in the future,” Que said. “My wife and my children inspire me to play golf and to push myself to be better not just in golf but in life as well. My advice to young aspiring golfers is to just keep having fun and remember that every day is a learning process.”
Golfer and instructor Marty Ilagan said Filipinos have a strong chance to rule the sports due to the presence of beautiful clubs around the country.
But all club owners and officers, he said, should make their respective junior and grassroots programs.
“We have good facilities from different clubs, but I’m hopeful the officers of those clubs will work together to help the grassroots and junior programs to produce many Miguel Tabuenas in the future,” Ilagan told The Manila Times.
Ilagan agreed that winning the golf event in the Rio Olympics is a long shot if Tabuena qualifies.
“Yes it is a long shot, but we are not losing hope,” Ilagan said. “The field is very, very competitive. If ever Miguel [Tabuena] qualifies, it is not going to be easy to make it to the medal round for sure.”
As for the sport’s timelessness , Ilagan mused: “Golf is also a timeless sport because it’s not as physically demanding as other sports. What’s nice also is there is a very competitive senior tour.”
Other sportsmen seem to be lured to the sport, too.
“It is also a fact that a lot of tennis pros and basketball players pursue golf after retirement from their respective sport and become good at golf,” Ilagan noted.