El Gato Living His Dream

By George WhiteAugust 31, 2006, 4:00 pm
So Eduardo Romero is finally going to get his wish.
For years Romero, 52 and a native of Argentina, has yearned to play golf in the United States. He became a European Tour veteran, actually winning eight times on that circuit. But always, since he was a young man in his native country, he dreamed of coming to the U.S.
Eduardo Romero
Eduardo Romero earned more than just a trophy with his JELD-WEN victory this past week.
Romero won a Champions Tour event last week. In fact, it was major ' the JELD-WEN Tradition. So there is no more dreaming, no more wondering if he would ever make it. For 2007 at least, Romero is a Champions Tour member.
He tried to get to the U.S. in 1984, shortly after he turned professional, but frankly, he just didnt have the skills. He went to Europe and learned his craft, actually won six times, and returned to America in 1995 after finishing second in the 94 Q-school. But his father died that year, and my head ' it was not so good, he said. It was a disaster.
So, it was back to Europe, and two more victories. Eduardo would still play in America occasionally on sponsors exemptions, and in fact finished second once at The International. But he could never get over the hump of achieving PGA TOUR membership again. And, in fact, he has twice tried the Champions Tour qualifier, but he hasnt made it either time.
I love playing here, he said simply. I want to live here the rest of my life.
First, going to the locker, I see old friends, he said. I see the difference between the other tours, you know. You see everybody laugh.
Lee Trevino was the first to tell me that it is more enjoyable than the other tours, because everybody is talking about the past life. Vicente Fernandez tell me this is a fantastic tour. They tell me, its nothing compared to regular tour. Im very comfortable, and I enjoy it so much.
And Romero comes in for his share of barbs when he goes into the U.S. tours locker rooms. Everybody tell me, What are you doing here? You have to go back on the other side of the ocean! They are just kidding, of course.
Of course. Romero has a nickname, given him when he was a youngster ' El Gato, meaning, the cat. The nickname, he says, was penned on him by his grandmother because of the way he would climb trees, much like a cat. My grandmother say, hes off in the trees all day. Everyday in the trees. So she call me, The Cat.
But The Cat almost became something else when Romero went to France to play in the Trophee Lancome. There, El Gato sounds like the word meaning cake. Confused Frenchmen wondered why this grown man would be called, The Cake.
El Gato actually caddied once for Roberto de Vincenzo, the most famous Argentinean golfer of all time. Eduardos father was a club pro in Argentina, as a matter of fact. And Romero still speaks in reverent tones when he speaks of De Vincenzo.
Hes such a good player, a good man, said Eduardo. Roberto is 84 now, but he is unbelievable. He is my idol, still is to this day.
Romero qualified for the JELD-WEN field when he finished second in the British Senior Open, losing a playoff to Loren Roberts. He won the JELD-WEN in a playoff also, toppling Lonnie Nielsen.
'He's got it all, said an admiring Nielsen, and he's got no fear. He shoots at every pin, he doesn't care if there's water next to it.'
And at least, El Gato has arrived for good. The money is not important for me, he said, because I have a lot of money to live the rest of my life. Its all about the golf.
I know that you never know what happens when you are talking about golf. There are a lot of good players over here. I know there are good players over here.
And at last, after all the years of trying to get to America, he has made it in a very big way.
'Finally, the dream has come true,' he said.
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    Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

    The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

    Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

    The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

    Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

    "If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

    "Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

    "In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

    "I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

    Getty Images

    Wallace holds off Olesen to win BMW International

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

    PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

    Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

    ''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

    Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

    Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

    ''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

    Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

    England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

    Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

    Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

    By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

    Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

    Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

    This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

    Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

    Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

    Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

    “I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

    “It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

    The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

    The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.