Taos graduate puts himself on the line at big tournaments

'I go out there to win every time'

By Sheila Miller
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 8/1/19

Recent Taos graduate Josh Fambro isn't waiting for college to grow his golf game."There's not much of a junior scene," Fambro said, so "I've been playing in a lot …

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Taos graduate puts himself on the line at big tournaments

'I go out there to win every time'

Posted

Recent Taos graduate Josh Fambro isn't waiting for college to grow his golf game.

"There's not much of a junior scene," Fambro said, so "I've been playing in a lot of bigger tournaments than I'm used to."

The experiences seem to be paying off, and Fambro will bring a solid summer of experience when he leaves for University of Redlands, California, in the fall.

NM-WT Amateur at Paa-Ko Ridge

An example of the bigger golf venue was June 21-23 when Fambro competed in the New Mexico and West Texas Amateur at Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Course, the biggest tournament in the section.

"For the first two days I put myself within a shot to win it," Fambro said. On the last day, however, he "would have had to shoot 5 or 6 under to win." From a field of 59 golfers, including at least ten Division I golfers from New Mexico and Texas, Fambro finished seventh.

This year's winner was Greg Condon, of Monte Vista, Colorado, "a potato farmer who barely practices and is probably the best amateur golfer in the state," Fambro said.

In golf, players have plenty of time between shots to think about what they just did or the shot that's coming up. That doesn't seem to happen to Condon.

"I've played in his group before," Fambro said. "He makes no mistakes."

That mental toughness is one of the traits shared by many great golfers, but no one has a formula for creating it.

"My highs go really high and my lows get really low, but watching guys like that makes me want to work harder to limit the mistakes. They just hit good shots all the times."

To do that, Fambro knows he needs to stay in the moment. "Don't dread about the past and don't worry about the future."

That's a tall order when it's strategically important to be aware of competitors' performances.

In bigger tournaments there are leader boards and live scoring, and even in smaller ones, caddies typically keep the scores of everyone in the group.

"I don't always just aim for the flag," Fambro said. If things are going well, "I play the bigger parts of the green. But if I need to, I'd be a little bit more aggressive. Take risks that might pay off."

During these three-day tournaments, "If your first day goes really bad, you're in for it." Fortunately for Fambro, he wasn't in that situation this year.

"I didn't play the best golf the first day, but I still managed to put up a pretty good score. The same kind of thing happened the last day."

Fambro was able to make the best of his mistakes and put up his best finish of the four years he's played that tournament.

The U.S. Amateur Championship

In Arizona on July 9-10, Fambro took a stab at qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Championship, the biggest amateur tournament in the world and run by the USGA, the same organization that puts on the U.S. Open. Playing in the U.S. Amateur is "playing against the future of the PGA Tour," Fambro said.

Golfers compete in the 36-hole qualifier for a number of positions that depend on the size and strength of the field. In the case of the U.S. Amateur Qualifier at Wigwam Golf and Country Club in Litchfield Park, Arizona, there were two spots and two alternate positions at stake.

The first day, Fambro was set to finish one under par, but triple-bogeyed on the second to last hole, ending the day with a 75. He made the first day cut, and played a 76 on the second day for a 151 stroke total and 27th place.

"The only way to really mentally prepare in golf is to manufacture confidence. More than just doing it," Fambro said. "You never know when your swing is going to leave you, and you still want to have that confidence if things start going bad."

Having played that course before, Fambro used the positive experiences of the past to avoid dwelling on things that hadn't gone his way. It's a way to trick himself into thinking he can do it when he's not performing too well.

When in his head, "you put so much weight on each shot." Every time, thinking this could be the difference. "It really leads to overthinking."

"When you overthink, you're not completely focused on your golf shot."

It comes down to "not worrying about the outcome. Get down to it and manage with what you've got."

While Fambro didn't win a spot at the U.S. Amateur this year, every major tournament is a chance to acclimate to a new level of competition.

From age 10 or 11, Fambro has had one primary focus, and this year was one more step toward it. "The U.S. Amateur is my biggest goal. To play and have a chance to win."

The Challenge Cup

Fambro's last tournament before he goes off to college is the Challenge Cup on Saturday (Aug. 3), in Albuquerque at Paradise Hills Golf Course. The tournament boasts a mix of the 16 of the best amateurs in the state and 16 of the best and professionals. In the morning, there's a two-versus-two team event in which pairs of amateurs take on pairs of professionals.

Fambro gets to play on a team with his long-time friend Aidan Thomas in the morning against professionals Kevin Amhaus and Don Yrene.

"In the afternoon, it's just me and Don Yrene," Fambro said, referring to the Individual competition held in the afternoon.

Next steps

This fall, Fambro will go to the University of Redlands. The format is similar to high school golf, but it's "a lot more competitive atmosphere than I'm used to," he said.

"A good way to get better at golf is to surround yourself with good players and rise to their level." At University of Redlands, Fambro looks forward to being "able to play with eight or nine guys who are as good or better than I am."

"It's going to be easier to make the practice worthwhile and really develop my game," he said.

Beyond college play, and even beyond the qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Championship, Fambro would love to play professional golf on one of the major tours in the world.

"Golf is so different from any other sport," Fambro remarked. "There's no subjectivity. You don't have to get drafted by any team. You just have to put up the numbers, and if you're good enough, you're good enough."

This year, and every year, Fambro aims to be good enough.

"I go out there to win every time."

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