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Top Pinoy Amateur Commits to Play College Golf for Santa Clara University

The search is finally over.  A new journey now begins for the Philippine’s number one ranked amateur golfer. Jolo Timothy Magcalayo, a rising senior from De La Salle Zobel, just verbally committed to pursue his collegiate golf career playing for the Santa Clara University Broncos.

He teams up with new Head Coach Andrew Larkin, the former Associate Coach at UCLA where he was instrumental in turning the program into a nationally ranked powerhouse.  Magcalayo is Larkin’s first ever recruit and he is a big one for SCU.  Larkin has been following the Filipino wonder boy for the past two years and even recruited him to play for UCLA.  Good thing that it didn’t work out as Magcalayo will now be Larkin’s projected top player in 2021.

“I am first relieved that my recruitment journey is over. I have worked hard the past two years and have tried to do everything correctly to put myself forward.  I have done relatively well, have been recruited heavily and now have made one of the best decisions of my life. I am finally very happy that I am now a Bronco!” said the 17-year old. 

Magcalayo, ranked 499 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), was one of the most sought after international players for his high school class based on his outstanding play in the past two years and was figured to do even better this summer before the Corona 19 pandemic hit. 

Instead of making a bid to play in a third straight US Junior Open, his first US Amateur Open after coming in as an alternate last year and a number of top ranked open amateur and open junior open events, Jolo, who was ranked as high as 12 for his class despite only playing 3 months a year in the US, was regulated to close out his recruitment process while in lockdown in his hometown of Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Despite the missed opportunities, he was still kept busy talking to schools and before the end of last month was ready to make a decision.  From more than 40 universities, Jolo boiled down his choices to SCU and the Pepperdine Waves, the best college golf program this year in the US. “Pepperdine was very intriguing.  It was the top ranked school in the country, they have a great program and located in a beautiful campus.  It would have been a challenge every day to go up against college golf’s best players” said Magcalayo. 

But in the end, he chose SCU and one of the first coaches who showed real interest in him.  Instead of fighting for a spot on a team that was fancied to contend for the national title this year, he goes to a program that is only now aiming to break into national consciousness as a college golf power.

“SCU brings a different challenge altogether.  I have a chance to be the number 1 or number 2 player on this team when I start.  Coach Larkin wants to make history here.  To be the first SCU team to go to nationals, to be a consistent top 20 program and to contend for the national championships in 4 years.  That is a very big challenge and that appeals to me” he adds. 

“I will go to battle at SCU with Coach Larkin and I strongly feel that we will make our own history for the Broncos” said Jolo.  He also likes the fact that the Jesuit school that sits in the heart of Silicon Valley is traditionally strong in academics and will also challenge him to be a more complete person.  “I’m a student-athlete.  Student first.  I chose Santa Clara for its tough academics as well.  I will be a better person after I’m done with school there” he said.

Magcalayo’s timely recruitment at SCU highlights the school’s continuous drive to make head ways as a top collegiate golf program.  SCU Athletic Director Renee Bumgartner, appointed in 2015, is perhaps the most respected AD in the country who has a distinguished golf background with success as a player at the University of Southern California (USC) and as a top five national championship finishing coach both at USC and Oregon. 

Larkin, one of the acknowledged architects of the perennial nationally ranked UCLA Bruins, now team up with Bumgartner to push SCU into national prominence.  The school has recently opened a brand new Student Athletic Excellence Center and will be breaking ground for a new golf practice facility that will be ready by 2021. Things are really looking bright for  SCU’s athletic program and golf wants to be at the center of attention.

Magcalayo is expected to be one of the foundations of Larkin’s new look team for 2021 and will be surrounded and supported hopefully by other top junior golfers that has been under the coach’s radar even while he was still at UCLA.

Asked on what he could share with his other junior golfers wishing to play college golf in the US, Magcalayo says, “Start early and play a lot of relevant tournaments.  Get out of your comfort zones.  I started having a full US schedule when I was a freshman in high school and I played everywhere I had the chance to showcase my talent.”  He also said to not be afraid of failing.  “I set very lofty goals.  It looked difficult at first, but I just played and played.  I had no time to get scared or to feel sorry for myself if I lost. I had to prepare for the next tournament.  All those tournaments made me tougher” said Jolo.

He said that he went all over the US just to find the school with the perfect fit. He looked at all types and sizes, big and small, located in from big cities to numerous small college towns, public and private from the top ranked to mid majors to schools ranked above one hundred. He wasn’t choosy and he tried to communicate with everyone who recruited him.

“I was taught early not to be blinded by brands. It was very tempting, but we really looked at fit more than anything else. I looked for a school where I will be happiest and where I will thrive as a golfer, a student and as a person” said Jolo.

He adds further, “Ask for help.  I was lucky that a lot of people helped me and my family in mapping out my pathway to a US college scholarship.  We never paid them anything and they never asked for anything in return.  They just helped. We will always be grateful to them.”

Jolo and his family has been guided primarily by US College Sports Camps’ (USCC) Philippines Atty. Bobbet Bruce who is also the former Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines (JGFP) President and his head coach, Joel Altea III.  Through Jolo’s participation in USCC Philippines’ golf camps, he was connected to Coach Larkin by USCC Asia’s George Duangmanee.  Larkin has been a regular at USCC Asia’s camp for several years. He has also been assisted by Duangmanee’s THE AGENCY COLLEGE RECRUIT, a college recruitment assistance service as well as Katie Brophy’s GOLF GLOBALLY.

“I have seen Jolo grow to very good player over the years.  Players like Jolo will always land somewhere and do well.  I am glad that he will be playing for Andrew Larkin who is a great mentor and a very respected coach in college golf” says the Virginia, USA based Duangmanee.

Kyle Dandan of newly formed COLLEGE SPORTS PATHWAYS, the local partner of THE AGENCY COLLEGE RECRUIT, also recently assisted Magcalayo in closing out his recruitment with SCU which was made easier as Dandan was a former top player in tennis for the same school a little over a decade ago.

He was a lot like Jolo when he attended SCU in 2009 as he led the Broncos to their first and only NCAA national berth in 2012 where they reached the Round of 16 and a national best ranking of 29.  He was SCU’s best individually ranked tennis player in history and the school’s first Male Athlete of the Year Awardee from the Men’s Tennis Team.

He sees the parallelisms of their paths but is confident that Jolo will do more for the golf program than what he did for tennis during his time.  “I am very pleased that Jolo chose SCU. He has a chance to be special. It is an opportunity for him do big things for himself, for the university, and for his country. I am sure Jolo can deliver” said the former national team player.

Magcalayo is the first recruit signed by the collaboration of these well-meaning people and entities and there are more in the pipeline in golf and several other sports that are being properly guided.
 Jolo’s school selection now takes away the heavy burden of waiting off his shoulders. He can now focus on preparing for the next phase of his golf career.

“I want to be a great college player. I want to win college events, have a chance at big amateur opens and do well in professional tournaments.  I want to maximize my potential as a player and hopefully when I’m done with college, be acknowledged as one of the best Filipino college golfers” said Jolo.

He wants to inspire the next generation of young golfers by showing them that college golf is a great chance to achieve all their dreams in the sport.  He says, “I want to put Filipinos in the map in US college golf. That has never been done before.”

Jolo now waits, like the rest of the world, for the pandemic to let us live our normal lives again.  For him, it is to play golf regularly and to finally compete again at a high level.

“I can’t wait to play college golf.  I know I made the right decision.  I know that I will be happy at Santa Clara. I am a Bronco now and I am finally home.”

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