Rising junior golf stars tee off for the Philippine Flag

THE best dreams happen when we are awake! And for dreams to come alive, we have to be willing to put in lots of hard work. Success is not handed on a silver platter; it is earned. No one knows these lessons more than these two rising junior golf stars: Kiara Therese Montebon (11 years old) and Matthew Miguel Fabiala (10 years old).

These two will be living their dreams to represent the country this July in three competitions in the United States—2 in San Diego, California and 1 tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mind you, this is not their first international competition. Both Kiara and Iggy have recently represented the Philippines in the US Kids World Golf Competition 2016, held in Johor Baru, Malaysia.

In addition, both of them have individually joined at least a dozen tournaments since they began in 2014. One of Kiara’s most memorable was the 2016 PAL Ladies Tournament where she was the youngest competitor.

Both kids have several medals tucked under their belt. Together, they won champion in the Montecillo Division 2 (boys and girls, age 9-12) at the 2017 PAL JGFP Interclub Junior Golf, Southwoods, Cavite. They also have trophies from various local and national competitions.

Their number one fans are their mothers: Ethel Montebon and Zarah Fabiala. These two best friends live next to each other so, in essence, their children are like siblings. Both moms are these young golfers’ drivers, caddies, and companions in all practices and tournaments.

Ethel shared: “Iggy enjoyed playing with plastic clubs since he was really small. He was the first one who got interested and wanted to try the real thing. Since they are packaged deal, the Ate (Kiara) also wanted to try it. And there is no stopping na dayun since Day 1!”

The two kids tried golf on weekends at Del Monte Clubhouse, Bukidnon, when Kiara was almost 9 and Iggy was almost 8. Ethel narrated: “Zarah and I both noticed that they really enjoyed it, so we enrolled them in golf sessions at Pueblo Golf. We exposed them early on and let them join a tournament in Alta Vista in Cebu in 2014. They did so poorly compared to the other better jun-golfers. Because of the results, both kids got challenged and told us that they wanted to practice more to become better.”

Their trainer is Elbert Gamolo, who specializes in teaching kids and beginners. His own son, Jelbert, represented the Philippines in the Junior World 2014; and he is now a Philippine Professional Golfer at the age of 19. Kiara and Iggy see their coach every single day. On weekdays, practice starts at 5:45 a.m. before school. After class, they go back again to Pueblo at 4 p.m. and practice until before dinner.

They don’t rest on weekends because they drive up to Del Monte to practice there as well. They both belong to the Junior Golf Class D division and they both dream to join PGA-Professional Golf Association. For Kiara, she also hopes to be a member of LPGA-Ladies Professional Golf Association. These associations are in the US and accept all nationalities who qualify based on skills and merit.

These jun-golfers idolize pro-golfers to keep them inspired and motivated. Kiara is a fan of Michelle Wie and Lydia Ko; whereas, Iggy looks up to Tiger Woods and Rory Mcllroy. All of these golf celebrities are international superstars and champions. Both kids aspire to earn US golf scholarships just like their idols Michelle and Tiger.

The two kids’ dedication is truly admirable considering they are able to balance everything with school. Ethel emphasized that—“Golf does not interfere with their studies at all. They both manage to get good grades and they still have time for other stuff like piano, voice, guitar for Kiara; and drums, piano, and voice for Iggy. Surprisingly, they both don’t complain about their rigorous practices because they both say they love what they’re doing.”

Both kids agree that in doing what they love, they’ve learned discipline, patience, and time management. Kiara said, “With golf, I do not only enjoy the sport, but I also learned to be more focused. Not just in competition, but in school too.” As for Iggy, he shared: “Golf taught me how to work hard and to try harder!” They both agreed that they may not always win, but the most important thing is they always try their best and they have fun in the process.

These two rising junior golf stars are truly admirable and inspiring. At such a young age, both of them know the value of hard work, and they take pride in the dignity of a job well done. These are essential character traits to win, not just in golf, but in the future too, as adults. Their golf journey shows us parents that we have to give our kids opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive, so they too can successfully live their dreams.

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