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The future beckons for Corpus

They moved the tee boxes upfront po. It looked very different since we practiced everything from the back

CARL Corpus is eyeing a breakthrough season next year.

Carl Corpus does not stand out in a crowd. Humble and mild-mannered, he doesn’t seem to wish for attention or admiration.

But in the last few weeks, it is hard not to notice the young man’s accomplishments — a joint fifth-place finish at the prestigious Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand and the overall individual title in the 72nd Fil-Am Invitational in Baguio City.

Looking back on this season, Corpus rates his performance in Thailand as his highlight of the year.

“Definitely Asia-Pac po ’cause I practiced really hard po for that tournament specifically,” said the 21-year-old senior at San Jose State University, the oldest public institution on the West Coast.

After a poor opening round 75 at the Amata Spring Country Club, Corpus shot 66-71-68 to break into the Top 5.

He attributed his difficulties in the first round to his failure to adjust his game plan.

“They moved the tee boxes upfront po. It looked very different since we practiced everything from the back,” he recalled.

Two weeks ago, Corpus made heads turn when he shot consecutive sub-par rounds at the Baguio Country Club in Baguio City during the Fil-Am event. Nobody else shot even par or better at BCC during the tournament.

Yet a few days ago, he took a short break from vacation to go to Thailand with cousin Aidric Chan to have lessons with Kris Assawapimonporn, the coach of world No. 3 player Atthaya Thitikul.

“Even though my game is tracking in the right direction po, I just really want to keep learning. And what better way than to learn from someone who is currently coaching Atthaya,” he said.

The 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. range and short game sessions were held for two days made memorable because they got to practice with Thitikul.

While Chan has been going to Thailand since he was 14 years old, Corpus said it was the first time he took lessons from the famed Thai coach.

He took to heart the lessons, mostly about extension throughout his follow-through in all aspects of his swing.

“Also learned a couple of things about keeping my club face more square through impact by using less hands with chipping with all types of shots. So that it’s more consistent with the flight and direction,” Corpus explained.

TRAINING in Thailand won’t be complete without a photo opportunity with world No. 3 Atthaya Thitikul. From left: Carl Corpus, Thitikul, Aidric Chan and Charles Corpus.

“I’m still working on them but seeing as the top players all have this in common, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be trusting this and hopefully get the movements right through practice.”

He also learned a lot by just observing Thitikul, who before turning pro was the world’s No. 1 amateur.

“She’s really nice and friendly but when it comes to practice, she really puts in 100 percent in all that she does. Her focus when doing her drills especially with hitting a golf ball is something that I intend to do din po,” Corpus said.

The trip costs Corpus all his savings derived from his allowances from the Philippine Sports Commission as a national player, but it’s all worth it, he said.

The Corpus family hails from Laoag, Ilocos Norte. Carl is the youngest of three brothers.

Charles, the oldest at 27, is a certified public accountant taking up law while James, 26, is an employee and a contractor at the same time.

Both parents — Charlie and Claire — are lawyers, one reason why Carl initially wanted to become one.

“Even before I was into golf po, I’ve always wanted to follow the footsteps of my parents po,” he disclosed.

Golf, however, made him change his priorities.

“I switched from corporate accounting to communications to focus on golf because I realized that I could go back and study,” Carl explained.

All in the family plays golf.

Carl first swung the club at the age of seven.

“I started golf po talaga because of my lolo po who was playing golf almost everyday. But the first time I ever hit a golf ball was at City Golf where my mom was having a lesson,” he narrated.

“My dad was surprised, kasi lumipad po agad yung very first hit ko. Ang sabi po ng coach ng mom ko, ‘o gayahin mo na lang siya’.”

Whenever he’s in the country, Carl said he always made it a point to play with his parents on weekends.

“I give them plus-2 on par-4s and par-5s,” he chuckled, referring to their friendly wagers.

Carl said he gets to come home twice a year and spend time with the family.

“I usually practice everyday po kasi but when it’s really a super chill day, I usually just eat breakfast with family, work out po, watch some Netflix shows, spend like an hour or two on the driving range and come back home, eat dinner with family, read a couple of pages from a book then sleep,” he said.

If there’s one advice that he can give to recreational golfers, Carl said it’s not to overthink.

“People tend to blame their swings immediately whenever they hit bad shots. In reality, it is because they might be avoiding a bunker on the right or a hazard on the left which make them steer the club,” he explained.

Carl said he just thinks about one swing thought and focuses on his target.

Next season, he is setting a lofty target for himself.

“I plan on winning my first college event and getting three top 10’s po and hopefully make it to regionals with a chance of making it to nationals po for NCAA,” Carl said.

Helping him achieve his goals is John Kennaday, his university coach who makes sure his grip, posture, and alignment are correct.

Carl also gets lessons from coach Toch Althea while here in the country.

He is set to go back to the United States on 14 January, but not before taking part in the National Stroke Play Championship on 3 January at the Langer course of the Riviera Golf and Country Club.

In the meantime, Carl is spending the remainder of his Christmas vacation with the people who matter most — his family.

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