Her name is Zero

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF JETT PLETE ZERO Plete shows her form on top of the backswing.

Just call her Zero Plete, the 13-year-old talent from Del Monte, Bukidnon who has dreams of making it into the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour someday.

If you insist on finding her full name, be sure you have a pen and paper with you.

It’s Zedge Kenzie Ryouchett Plete.

Zero is clueless about how she ended up with her nickname.

“My mom told me it’s an absolute number,” she said.

The truth, according to Jett Plete, her father, is that the name was derived from Coke Zero which was introduced in the market during the time of her birth.

It can also be the number Plete hopes to achieve as her golf handicap in the future.

It has been a hectic week for the five-foot-seven Grade 7 student at Lifehouse Montessori Academy.

She has been training from dawn to dusk since Friday to prepare for the Pueblo de Oro Championships organized by the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines in Cagayan de Oto City this weekend.

Following her breakthrough victory in the JGFP Davao Championships earlier this month, Zero admits her expectations are high.

In contrast, when she went to Davao for her first major tournament, Zero said she did not expect to contend, much less win.

“We did not even expect to be there,” revealed Jett, a former touring pro who now works for Pueblo de Oro. “

We didn’t have the means but our friends chipped in so Zero can play.”

Zero quickly showed her potential when she shot a four-over-par 76 to lead her division at the tough Apo Golf and Country Club.

The following day, she started with an 8 on the par-4 10th hole after sending her teeshot out of bounds. She dumped her tee shot on the water on the next hole, a par-3, but saved bogey.

Zero reached the turn on 9-over and was crying while walking toward the first tee, according to Jett.

She finished the round in 15-over-par but still won the 36-hole tournament.

“I thought I would settle for second after that 87,” Zero said.

Zero currently holds a 15-handicap, but Jett believes she now plays below 10.

Jett has had his dreams of playing overseas during his heydays but the lack of resources forced him to quit the pro tour at a young age of 38.

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF JETT PLETE
Zero with golf legend Frankie Miñoza.

“We’re hoping that Zero can get help in her journey,” he said.

Zero likes to think she swings like former world No. 1 Nelly Korda, her idol.

“I like her swing and want to copy it,” she said, adding she has not had mustered enough courage to send her a message in social media.

This weekend’s tournament is a good barometer on how far Zero’s game has gone since picking up the sport five years ago.

Zero’s progress was derailed by the coronavirus pandemic which locked her at home for nearly two years.

Her studies also limited her golf only on weekends.

Still, Jett is grateful for the JGFP for bringing tournaments to Mindanao.

“There are many good players in the region needing this kind of exposure,” he said.

Frankie Minoza, arguably the greatest Filipino golfer, hails from Del Monte, Bukidnon.

The Pueblo de Oro tournament has so far drawn 118 participants, more than half of it from Cagayan de Oro and nearby Bukidnon.

At least 30 will be coming from Davao, according to Francis Lucero of Apo Golf and Country Club.

The JGFP, under president Olivar Gan and chairman Tommy Manotoc, has waived the tournament fees for children of caddies and golf course workers as part of its grassroots development program.


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