In January, Jorge Garcia opened the Puerto Rico Junior Open sponsored by Sport Link with a first-round 63 en route to his first AJGA title and a spot in a PGA TOUR event. Six weeks later, Garcia, 17, returned to Trump International Golf Club Puerto Rico and became the eighth-youngest player in history to make the cut in a TOUR event, after posting back-to-back 70s in the first and second round.
“The highlight of my week was going 4-under at the cut,” Garcia said. “Some holes were a little longer than the AJGA tournament so I played a few of those more aggressively. But the holes that were the same I stuck to my strategy that worked in January.”
Garcia finished at 1-under-par 287. His entry into the event and his 63 was a topic of conversation amongst tournament participants, as tournament champion Scott Brown was the only player in the TOUR field to card a 63.
“People were aware of the exemption,” Garcia said. “Sidney Wolf (Tournament Chairman of the Puerto Rico Open) did a good job telling people about me and my 63 and everyone was really nice about it. All the pros made me feel welcome and it was natural for me to be there.”
With seven top-15 AJGA finishes and a verbal commitment to Florida, Garcia used the week as a learning experience and an opportunity to improve his game.
“I learned that to play on TOUR you have to have a crazy short game,” said Garcia, who interacted with veteran players like Tim Petrovic and Joe Durant. “These players have these unbelievable short games that leave no room for mistakes. I know what I need to do to be better and be able to compete at that level.”
Garcia will next compete at the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Innisbrook hosted by Sean O’Hair where he hopes to apply what he learned and experienced at the Puerto Rico Open.
“Everything about the week was perfect,” Garcia said. “I had 25 members of my family there, an excellent caddie in Miguel Martinez, and I got to hit balls next to my heroes. Everyone dreams of having that week and I was able to live it because of the exemption.”