The coronavirus pandemic has practically shut down the golf world for the past four months. Junior and amateur golf has taken a hit, with major events and the summer season already lost due to lockdowns. But for the Philippines’ top amateur player Jolo Magcalayo, the past few months has been still very busy as he closes out his US college recruitment journey and prepares to possibly play in one of the most prestigious amateur open events in the world.
Magcalayo, a 17-year-old rising senior from De La Salle Zobel, has been making the most of the down time to look at US universities and talk to recruiters who want to secure his services in 2021. He was supposed to be in the US since May, playing in major junior and amateur open events to further prop his rankings and impress US college coaches, but the pandemic changed everything.
“I’ve been playing a full summer schedule in the US every year since 2018. This year was supposed to be my last window to showcase my talent and hopefully land a spot in a good US university. Then the pandemic happened. It’s a good thing I’ve had significant traction the past two years that I hope is enough for coaches to commit to me,” said Magcalayo.
The country’s top player is currently ranked 552 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. He has done well over the past two years, playing a full US summer schedule. He has qualified for the 71st and 72nd US Junior Amateur Championships, qualified as an alternate for the 119th US Amateur Championships, played in the 44th Junior PGA Boys where he broke the tournament single round record and led the championships after the first day, placed second at the 41st North and South Junior Championships, won three AJGA events as well as a slew of local junior events in the East Coast.
His outstanding play has catapulted him among the top 60 boys in the US, a top 12 best in his 2021 graduating class despite playing a limited schedule, and placed him in the cross hairs of a lot of top college programs.
He has gained interest from over 20 US NCAA Division I programs, including number one ranked Pepperdine, Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Harvard, Arizona, Kansas, Florida State University, University of California, Los Angeles, University of North Carolina, San Diego State University, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Ohio State University, Kent Sate, Oregon State, Santa Clara University, Mississippi State, Colorado State, Missouri, Seton Hall, Rutgers, University of San Francisco, Marquette, Sam Houston University, Houston Baptist University, East Carolina State University, University of Central Florida, South Florida University, Florida Gulf University, Mcneese State, Long Beach State, University of West Florida, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, James Madison, and Toledo, among others.
He is now down to his last three choices. He is expected to verbally commit before signing his National Letter of Intent this coming November 2020.
It’s a difficult year for college recruitment because of the pandemic as potential student athletes were not only denied the opportunity to showcase their talent in big events but also denied them of doing campus visits and meeting up personally with coaches. Coaches would have to rely on a player’s record without the benefit of seeing the player in competition in a lot of cases. International players like Magcalayo are doubly burdened as they only play a limited time in the US during summer.
“I feel that I missed out on a lot of opportunities to play and be seen but I still find myself lucky that I started early. I have more than a decent record and I hope that I can parlay this to a good college opportunity in a school where I can maximize my potential as a student-athlete.” said Magcalayo.
His past stellar amateur performance earned him an opportunity to play in the 120th US Amateur Champion-ships scheduled from Aug. 10 to 17, 2020 in Bandon, Oregon. But his participation is still up in the air because of the health risks involved in international travel now, the availability of flights and quarantine requirements for international travelers.
“This is a dream come true for me. Last year, I missed getting into the main draw after losing in extra holes at the qualifying. But I don’t know if we can leave the country or if it’s worth the risk. The required quarantine will also take away from my readiness to play. But it is already an honor just to be selected,” Magcalayo said.
Magcalayo has been a regular participant of US College Sports Camps in the Philippines and has been assisted by US College Sports Camps Asia founder George Duangmanee in his US recruitment journey since 2018.