AT THE age of 11, Dabawenya junior golfer Alessandra Nagayo is already carving a path to greatness as she is set to represent the Philippines in the upcoming US Golf World Championship to be held in Pinehurst, North Carolina on July 29 to August 2.

Nagayo earned the opportunity to represent the country after she topped the 11-year-old division in the US Kids Golf World Championship International Qualifiers held recently at the Orchard Golf and Country Club in Cavite.

"I felt happy and proud nung nanalo ako sa qualifying tournament. Ang ginawa ko lang was I stayed focus and wala akong inisip kung di ang game ko. Positive lang din ang mindset ko nun and nakatulong din siya sa akin (I felt happy and proud after winning the qualifying tournament. All I did was I stayed focused and I thought of nothing else but my game. I also had a positive mindset and it also helped me.)" Nagayo said.

But Nagayo admitted that she is still a work in progress under the wings of coaches Sonny Villaver and Toch Altea. Hence, she has set her preparations in high gear since she expects the world championships to be the toughest challenge in her young golf career yet. She practices six days a week from Monday to Saturday at the Apo Gold and Country Club.

"I believe that my drives are already good but I need to work on my short game so that I will increase my chances of winning," Nagayo said.

Nagayo has learned the ropes of golf when she was seven and shortly she started joining local junior teefests after learning the fundamentals of the game. She also participated in inter-school tournaments in Australia.

At an early age, she is expectedly looking for material accomplishments like having major sponsors and winning lots of prizes.

Yet, in her tender years, she has already have a passionate pursuit to become the best in the world and this passion has been fueled by her parents Danny and Councilor Rachel Zozobrado-Nagayo who has given her full support all along. Nagayo shared that she was taught by her parents to have a hollistic approach in improving her game saying that she has to be mentally, physically and spiritually strong to become the best.

Having a registered nurse and a trainer as a father, she said she has to follow a diet plan which means she has to deprive herself of the usual comfort food for children, which are mostly comprised of junk food.

But she was quick to add, "Things like the diet will not be a hindrance for me to become the best."

It has been a force of habit for her and her little brother Daniel to wake up at 5 a.m. and head to the golf course for some practice rounds daily while also keeping herself active in the afternoon with either practicing at Golf View Driving Range or doing sparring sessions in boxing.

She has also kept her academics in check as a grade six student of Brainworks School Inc. saying she is doing well with her studies while spiritually, she said she always goes to mass with her family on Sundays.

"My parents are doing their best to support me and I am very thankful for them. That is why I also need to do my best to win the world championships," Nagayo said.

She also urged other kids of her age to be excellent in whatever they do, stay humble in defeat and make every loss a learning opportunity.