Carlos Franco grew up in poverty, one of a family of nine in a house with a dirt floor and one room. One thing he did have, though, was a father who was a greens superintendent and caddie at one of the three golf courses in Paraguay. Francisco Javier Franco fashioned homemade golf clubs for his sons, all professionals now. Carlos became a world-class player.
Franco was born in 1965, which makes him almost 36 now, but he didnt join the American tour until he was 34. Before that, he played the Japanese Tour with a great deal of distinction. Five victories were posted on the circuit since he started in 1994 at the age of 28 ' the 94 JunClassic, the 95 Sapporo Open, the 96 ANA Open, and two in 1998, the Just System KSB Open and the Fuji Sankei Classic.
Prior to his successes in Japan, Franco was a standout player in his native South America. His first big impact outside his home continent came at the 1993 Dunhill Cup in Great Britain, where he defeated Sam Torrance as Paraguay rode to victory over Scotland.
Carlos, or Carlitos, as he is addressed by those close to him in Paraguay, won for the first time in the United States in New Orleans in his rookie year. He had earned his PGA Tour card by finishing 36th in the 1998 Q-School. He followed his win in New Orleans with another in Milwaukee the same year.
He finished 11th in money earned in his rookie season and followed that up with another win at New Orleans last year. He finished 30th on the money list in 2000.
Franco practices little during Tuesday and Wednesday, prime tune-up days for most pros. He hits only 20 balls before going out on tournament days ' just enough to get loosened up, he says.