Teen Titan Tabuena Reveals Goals

Fri 16 Nov 2012

Teen Titan Tabuena Reveals Goals

November 16: Only 18, Filipino teen titan Miguel Tabuena has earned the respect of his peers on the Asian Tour with some swashbuckling performances. In his sophomore year as a professional golfer, Tabuena has already achieved what others his age can only dream of on the region’s elite circuit but yet, it has also been a roller-coaster ride. In an exclusive Q&A, he talks about his goals in life, the near misses on Tour and coping with life as a young professional while being home-schooled.

Let’s get started, how did you begin playing golf?

I started when I was one-year and eight months old. My parents gave me a set of plastic golf clubs and I just started swinging away. I watched the 1997 Masters Tournament when Tiger Woods won and I guess that made me really interested in golf.

Kids your age are in school but you’re playing on the Asian tour. What made you decide to turn professional?

I got a lot of offers from colleges in the United States but my coach Rick (Gibson, who is an Asian Tour champion) and my parents believed that I was passed the level of college golf. That’s why I turned professional because I needed to move to the next step if I wanted to make golf my career. My parents were 100 per cent behind me. I was nervous in my first event in India but I knew that I would feel more comfortable when I played in more Asian Tour events.

How was your first season on the Asian Tour?

My first goal was the keep my Asian Tour card but I was unlucky to miss out by about US$250. I remember I was on the way back on the bus and found out what happened. I was very disappointed and didn’t want to do anything. It didn’t take long for me to recover because I told myself this is my rookie season and I still have a long way to go in my career.

What are the challenges that you face as a young professional golfer?

Some of the professionals look down at me because they are wondering why I’m here at such a young age. The only thing I can do is play my best and show them that you don’t bother me and I deserve to be here. That’s one of my main motivations.

What did you learn from the near misses at the ICTSI Philippine Open and Queen’s Cup this season?

Winning your first event on the Asian Tour is the hardest thing to do but is one of my main goals. In the Philippine Open I was playing against Mardan (Mamat), who is a veteran and in the Queen’s Cup I played with Thaworn (Wiratchant), who is also a veteran. I learnt a few things from them so hopefully when I’m in a similar position in the near future, I can do better.

You travelled with your coach Rick in your first year on the Asian Tour. He is now playing on the European Seniors Tour. Do you like travelling solo?

I miss travelling and playing practice rounds with him but it is part of the process and I’ve learned how to be more independent. I’ve made new friends now like Angelo Que, Mars Pucay and Antonio Lascuna. I also got to know Lam Chih Bing, Mardan Mamat and Zaw Moe through Angelo which is nice.

You are home schooled, how do you manage your schedule and training?

Home school allows me to travel more and do my work at my own pace. There’s really no deadline. They are very flexible because they know I’m a professional golfer. I want to finish my studies now because I will have a back-up plan in case I get an injury and can’t play golf anymore. I have about one a half years more to go to university but I might not go to one.

Why didn’t you go to a public school?

It would be difficult to cope because I’ll always be absent. I went to a private school from the first to nine grade and decided it would be better for me to be home schooled.

When you travel do you miss your friends?

Oh, yeah. I miss my friends and seeing them in school but I know that my career and being successful comes with a big sacrifice. I completely understand the situation. But I still see them when I’m back in the Philippines and we still go for basketball, football and watch movies together.

Growing up as an amateur, did you idolize any player and who has impacted your life the greatest?

Tiger Woods, and he is still my idol. My dad as well! Without him, I wouldn’t be here. He was my first coach and one of my biggest supporters. I’m really grateful to have him as my dad.

The Olympics will be staged in 2016 in Rio De Janeiro, that must certainly be your target?

I was watching the Olympics recently and was picturing the Asian Games (won a silver medallist in 2010). I know it is not the same feeling but it gives you a sense of pride to stand on the podium and listen to your national anthem. It will be a great honour if that happened to me again at the Olympics.

You won twice on the local circuit this year and came close to winning on the Asian Tour. What do you think you need to do to finally win on the Asian Tour?

When I won both the local tournaments, I wasn’t in the lead going into the last day. I didn’t really think about winning. I knew it would be hard because Juvic (Pagunsan), Angelo (Que) and Antonio (Lascuna) were in the field. When I was contending on the Asian Tour, I got ahead of myself. Hopefully I can learn from that and downplay everything. I need to pull the trigger when it matters.

Do you feel more pressured to perform despite your age?

Yeah. A lot of people are expecting a lot from me especially back home. I try not to think about the pressure and if I can do that, I believe I can play well out here.

What do your friends think of your career?

They think, ‘oh Miguel the superstar!’ But I worked hard and it is not easy. I don’t get to see my friends and it is really difficult but I know in the end, it will pay off.

Have you had fans walk up to you and ask for your autograph?

Only recently in a shopping mall! An older guy walked over and said he watched me play at the Philippine Open and asked for a picture. Another time a few kids walked to me and I signed their caps.

What would you like to see improve Philippine golfing scene?

I wish that golf is more recognized in the Philippines as compared to basketball. That’s one of my long term goals, which is to make golf more recognizable and have more supporters and sponsors.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time and where do you think the Asian Tour and Philippines golf will be at that time as well?

Hopefully competing in the Majors and become the number one player on the Asian Tour. I also hope to represent the Philippines in the Olympics.


Country:                     Philippines

Date Of Birth:                         October 13, 1994

Residence:                  Manila

Family:                        Single

Turned Pro:                2011

OTHER WINS: (2) 2012 ICTSI Splendido Classic, Philippines, 2012 Eastridge Classic, Philippines.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Miguel narrowly missed out on his full playing rights for 2012 when he ended the 2011 season in 62nd place on the Order of Merit, a mere US$250 short of Keith Horne who sealed the last full tour card. Miguel’s highlights for the year came at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters where he finished fourth. The teenager finished in the top-40 of the 2011 Asian Tour Qualifying Final Stage in Thailand as an amateur and subsequently turned professional in February. The highly rated teenager was also a silver medalist winner in the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China in 2010. He is coached by multiple winner Rick Gibson of Canada and due to his playing schedule, Miguel is home-schooled.