LJ Go: Striking while the iron is hot

LLOYD Jefferson Go is hoping to get one of 10 Asian Tour spots through the Asian Development Tour.

September 8, 2022

Lloyd Jefferson Go is alone in Jakarta, Indonesia in pursuit of an Asian Tour card. He lives in a modest hotel, takes Grab to and from the course where he practices, and takes his meals wherever his feet would lead him.

He is No. 5 in the Asian Development Tour’s Order of Merit. He only needs to stay in the Top 10 to get his ticket to the big league.

Two of the last five ADT events will be held in Indonesia consecutively starting next week. He wants to make the most out of these tournaments before he shifts his focus to the Japan Tour Q-School next month.

The 27-year-old brother of Asian Games gold medalist Lois Kaye is enjoying a good run of form this season.

He placed runner-up in the last two ADT events, including a heartbreaking playoff loss last week in the BRG Open golf championship in Vietnam.

“It shouldn’t have gotten to the playoff anymore,” Go rued.

“But he (Chen Guxin) did birdie three of the last four holes to catch up.”

He thought he lost the tournament on 15 which he bogeyed.

Despite the near misses, Go is still grateful for the chance to get in that position.

“If I keep putting myself in that position, one of these days, it will be my turn to win,” he said.

Go took up golf when he was eight years old and took 12 more years to realize that he was good enough to become a pro.

He admitted to not having a good junior career.

“But I was somewhat there,” he quickly added.

“I never really hit it really far, so, during my junior years, I couldn’t reach every hole. So that was a significant disadvantage for me,” he said.

Go played well enough to land a spot on the college team of Seton Hall where he was named Athlete of the Year.

Despite his college credentials which include three victories, Go still has to play second fiddle to his sister Lois Kaye four years his junior.

“Of course, I was jealous! But it wasn’t in a bad way. I’m happy she was able to accomplish all that. Hopefully, more accomplishments to come for her also,” he said.

“We’ve always been supportive and happy for each other.”

Brother and sister have had a rivalry of sorts since they started playing golf together.

“Yes! To a certain extent. Putting contest, chipping contest, more on the mini-games,” he said. “But nowadays, she just plays in the same tee as me and tries to beat me.”

Go said Lois Kaye beat him only once.

There was nothing at stake. “Just pure pride,” he said.

These days, Go has every reason to be proud.

The swing change he made last year is starting to bear fruit.

He credits much of his success to his team — swing coach Andrew Ong and clubmakers Jovi Neri and Bayani Garcia and trainer Martin Bagsic.

“I’m now trying to swing more with my body. Try to keep the club face square throughout my whole swing,” he said.

His iron play has tremendously improved, Go swears.

“It’s a lot better. I’m able to attack flags, hitting them closer to the hole to give me more birdie opportunities,” he said.

A complete change in mindset also did wonders.

“Before I was practicing with no specific goal in mind, it was more of a general goal,” Go explained.

“Nowadays, I do have a specific goal. So the practice is more directed at achieving that.”

While the Korn Ferry Tour remains on his radar, Go said he wants to focus first on the Asian and Japan tours.

He said he will stay with Japanese friend Gen Nagai who will also join the Japan Tour Q-School.

LIV Golf is changing the landscape of pro golf, Go said he wouldn’t mind being a part of it if he will be given at least a one-year contract.

“Yes, I would go. If it’s for one tournament, let me think about it first. Don’t get me wrong. The money for the one event is really good. But the path to the PGA Tour is gone,” he said.

The last placer in a LIV event takes home $120,000 (P6.85 million).

“I think LIV and PGA Tour should co-exist. I don’t see why the landscape of golf is like this,” he said, hoping that the Philippines would be represented in LIV someday.

Competing abroad is not cheap, according to Go.

But fate almost always finds a way to make things easier.

“During a pro-am event here in Indonesia, I was able to meet the owner of a golf course. He introduced me to the general manager, I was able to get a good discount to play in the course,” he said.

Still, Go needs to set aside P2,000 for the caddie and cart rental.

“Then for range balls, it’s about P400 for 100 balls,” he said.

Go said he won’t be able to survive life on the tour without the full support of his parents.

“They are willing to help me as long as I want. Without their help, I wouldn’t be here playing golf,” he said.

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