Until Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open, Camilo Aguado had no interest whatsoever in golf. Soccer was his sport. Soccer was his passion. He spent hours upon hours on the pitch, honing his skills, dreaming big dreams.
But what transpired at Torrey Pines that June steered Aguado onto a new path. He was amazed at how Woods persevered despite an ailing knee. He sat mesmerized as Woods and Rocco Mediate battled into sudden death in a Monday playoff before Woods won on the 19th hole.
On that day golf became Aguado’s new pursuit and the results were manifested Tuesday.
A native of Colombia who now resides in Mexico City, Aguado shot a 6-under 29 on the front side en route to a 4-under 67 for the medal-play lead at the International Junior Masters.
One shot back at 68 is Ryan Borg of Caledon, Ont. He’s followed by Sam Hebert of St. Thomas, Ont., at 71.
Grand Island’s Kevin Borowicz led the local contingent with a 73, same as defending champion Joey Savoie of Montreal and 12-year-old Will Thomson of Pittsford. Thomson, the youngest player in IJM history, is the reigning International Junior Golf Tour Under-14 Player of the Year. His rise has drawn comparisons to fellow Pittsford native Gavin Hall, now at UCLA. What’s more, they have the same coach. And the same birth date.
Meanwhile, Murray Naysmith of Scotland owned the shot of the day, an ace on the 145-yard second hole. It was the third career hole-in-one for the 16-year-old, all coming from close to the same distance.
The tournament resumes at 7 this morning at East Aurora Country Club with the final round of medal play. The top 32 finishers will advance to the championship flight of match play beginning in the afternoon.
Aquado’s followed an unorthodox path to become an elite junior. Although he was 13 when Woods won at Torrey Pines, he didn’t start playing in earnest until he was 15 because of limited access to public golf.
“I used to make swings in my bathroom – there’s a mirror – because we weren’t on a golf course, we played public courses, and in Mexico there are not a lot of public courses near where I live,” he said. “So we played once a month, or once every two months.
“When I was 15, a golf teacher at a range, he give me some lessons. I called this teacher and said ‘I want to play more, what’s the next step?’ He said, ‘OK, there’s a junior tour in Mexico that you can play. He helped me to enter like a scholarship, a golf scholarship in a golf course, and I started playing.”
Aguado’s spirits soared when he shot 77 in his first competition and discovered it was the second-best round of the day. He has since played two U.S. tournaments, one in California, one in Florida. His four rounds in those events were all between 72-75.
Aguado once shot a 67 in a practice round but Tuesday was the first time he shot better than 2 under in any tournament round.
“The first nine holes were the best nine holes of my life, by far, by far.” he said.
He started out the front side with a pair of pars before an eagle on the par-5 third sent him off on a dazzling display.
“At first I thought it was going to be a hard golf course because the greens are fast,” Aguado said. “But the second shot on 3, that was a really good shot, 5-wood over the trees with some fade. To get it to the green and make the putt was really nice.”
He birdied the 220-yard par-3 fourth after hitting 3-iron to 10 feet. He added a 15-footer for birdie on the par-4 fifth, a 12-footer on the par-3 eighth and faded a low 9-iron from 154 yards to 2 feet for birdie on No. 9.
Aguado was even on the back nine until he bogeyed 17 and 18.Call it a learning experience for a player just more than three years into the game.