The Argentine kid who will play the Augusta Masters and his “cool” moment with Rory McIlroy

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Abel Gallegos is barely 18 years old and is enjoying some magical days. He had qualified in January to play the tournament.

The pandemic postponed and truncated dreams around the world. But he could not with that of Abel gallegos. The 18-year-old, who qualified in January to play the Augusta Masters, had planned to rub shoulders with the best in April but the worldwide standoff put everything on hold. From this Thursday, he will finally be able to fulfill his delayed wish. And meanwhile not only practice but also take the opportunity to indulge yourself.

The image arrived on Monday afternoon from the select club in the state of Georgia. Gallegos crossed paths with Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, one of the best golfers in the world, during training and did not want to miss his chance. He asked his caddy to take a portrait with him and the image stayed with him forever.

Gallegos’ link with golf started relatively recently. Although he lived very close to the 9-hole course of the Las Mulitas de 25 de Mayo club, a Buenos Aires town of 25 thousand inhabitants, located 200 kilometers southwest of the Casa Rosada, the first time that Abel Gallegos took a stick golf, 12 years ago, I knew very little about this sport. That’s right.

His family was very soccer fanatic and he himself came to try his luck in the goal of the Club Atlético Defensores de Plaza España, chaired by his father, from whom he inherited the name. But almost by chance, he discovered golf and began to build a passion that led him to make history in January in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

At just 17 years of age, the Buenos Aires native was crowned champion of the Latin America Amateur Championship, won the first title for Argentina in the history of that tournament and received two very special prizes as a gift: invitations to play this season at the Augusta Masters and the Open British, two of the most important and prestigious professional tournaments in the world.

Hours after his consecration in the Mexican field of El Camaleón, at the Mayakoba Resort, and still unable to believe what i just got, Abel chatted with Clarion to remember its beginnings and look towards a more than promising future.

Nobody in my family plays golf. I’m the first. He did not know much about this sport, but he lived one block from the court. One day, when I was 5 years old, the teacher from that club saw me outside my house and gave me a stick and a ball as a gift. And I started to hit him in the backyard of my house … Well, he didn’t really play: he made holes in the ground trying to hit the ball. One day they took me to the court and there I joined other boys from the neighborhood and started playing, “says Gallegos.

Abel was 6 years old. A couple of seasons later, he was already playing tournaments for the Northeast Buenos Aires Regional Golf Federation (FENOBA).

For a time he practiced two sports, until he realized that in those extensive green fields, with water mirrors and sandbanks, he felt much more comfortable than defending the three sticks in a soccer field.

“I once had to give up golf for five months because I had broken my collarbone playing soccer. So at one point I said to myself: ‘Soccer is not my thing, because I get hurt a lot’. And I decided to start with golf fully, “he says.

Convinced of his decision, he didn’t shrink when he had to tell his dad that he was going to hang up his gloves to chase his dreams behind a much smaller ball.

“He always wanted to take me to the football side, but one day I told him that golf was my thing and thank God he always supported me. My whole family, actually, is always with me. My dad accompanies me to all tournaments and my mother too, when she doesn’t have to stay to take care of my brothers Morena (12) and Miguel (13). Although they were all with me in Mexico and it was incredible to share this moment with them, “says the brand new champion.

And with the same conviction with which he departed from the family tradition, he chose to leave his native May 25 to settle in Pilar a year and a half ago and take another step on his way to professionalism. “I want to dedicate myself to this sport. That is why I chose to do internet school and focus all day on golf. In Pilar I live near the Argentine Association field and I train there every day, “he explains.

The bet turned out well and last year he made people talk in several tournaments that were played in Argentina. In addition to becoming a national champion of minors and being fourth in the Youth World Cup in Japan, finished 54th in the prestigious Open of the Republic, in which he overcame the cut along with several professionals with much more experience than him. And in this 2020 he started with everything in Playa del Carmen.

“This was a dream that I made come true. I would watch the tournament on television and tell my dad: ‘Look, the champion goes to the Masters’. Winning it was incredible and something that I will never forget in my life. I started the last day two strokes down, I got the same fast and then the truth was that I played magnificent golf. Everything was happening. And I was able to win it by four, making a birdie on the last hole “, says who has the American Tiger Woods as the maximum idol, but also admires the play of McIlroy, the target of his admiration this Monday.

HS

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