From PGA TOUR Latinoamérica to the Moon
With the distance Juan Pablo Luna has traveled across almost eight years on Tour, he could have made it all the way to the Moon.
May 05, 2020
By Communications, PGATOURLA.COM
- May 05, 2020
- Juan Pablo Luna, 28, holds the record for the most career starts on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica with 110 events played. (PGA TOUR)
His name is Luna, Juan Pablo Luna. That’s Luna as in moon.
Born in Bogota, Colombia in 1991, Luna was about to turn 21 when he made it to the city of Merida in Mexico’s stunning Yucatan Peninsula. He traveled there for a groundbreaking event, the Mundo Maya Open, that launched the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s inaugural season in September 2012. Almost eight years later, his Tour travels across the Americas account for 236,905 miles, pretty much the distance from the earth to the moon (238,855 miles).
Competing on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Luna has visited 38 different cities across 17 countries for 110 tournaments. Coming and going from places as far apart as Tijuana, Mexico and Patagonia, Argentina, he has filled the pages of three passports, and the traveling routine is something he desperately misses in these times of coronavirus home confinement.
“At a time when we are unable to go out, you can really appreciate and be grateful for the lives that we live,” says Luna. “Playing the game that we love, traveling the world, getting to know different cultures and places while making new friends is just wonderful. Without a doubt, that’s something that I really miss.”
At home in Bogota, where social distancing in also in full effect, Luna is spending the quarantine with his parents, Juan Antonio and Kethryn, his younger brother, Santiago, and his dog, Max. With so much time available, Luna more than happy to share some of his PGA TOUR Latinoamérica travel and tournament memories.
Juan Pablo Luna's career numbers on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. (Gregory Villalobos/PGA TOUR)
“Through the years the growth of our Tour has been huge. From the level of play to the work that we have to put in to raise our game and be able to compete. That’s why whoever is successful out here has a good chance on the more demanding tours,” says the 28-year old.
In his 110 career PGA TOUR Latinoamérica starts, Luna has recorded 25 top 25 finishes. He has shot a career-low 65 five times in 321 tournament rounds. His best Tour finish was a tie for third in 2015, and his best shot was probably one struck with 7-iron from 189 yards, the ball rolling into the cup for a 2 on a par-5 in Uruguay in 2014.
“My best year on Tour was definitely 2015. I started that season with a third-place finish (at the 68th Colombia Open at Los Lagartos) in Bogota. I remember my ball-striking was awful at the beginning of that week. I played some poor golf for 63 holes, but I made six birdies over the last nine holes in tough playing conditions to make a charge. That year, I came close to claiming a spot in the second stage of (Korn Ferry Tour) Q-School, but I came one ranking spot shy,” says Luna, who had three other top 10s in 2015 to finish the season No. 29 on the Order of Merit, his best season-ending ranking to date.
Covering an average of 2,783 miles per tournament, Luna’s heaviest travel years came in 2015, 2016 and 2018, flying over 35,000 miles during each of those seasons. He has played most of the tournaments on schedule each season, with the exception of 2017, when he was unable to earn status and only managed to make five starts.
“In 2016, making my last start of the season, at the VISA Open de Argentina at Olivos GC, I was feeling sick, so I had to withdraw after the opening round. That has been my only time withdrawing from a tournament in my career. It was pretty bad, I traveled back home and got admitted into a hospital, where I spent a month and a half dealing with a vesicle issue. That prevented me from playing Q-School at the beginning of 2017, so I missed a lot of tournaments that year,” says Luna.
Luna's mileage through the years on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. (Gregory Villalobos/PGA TOUR)
Most of his Tour starts have been in Argentina, where he has played 24 tournaments, followed by Mexico with 20 and in his home country (11). Six of his Tour events in Colombia were played in Bogota, convenient enough for him to stay home. The only PGA TOUR Latinoamérica host country he hasn’t visited was Paraguay, which staged the 2017 Paraguay Open.
Asked about his favorite course, he doesn’t hesitate to name the Cordoba Golf Club as the best layout on Tour. “It’s a superb golf course that makes you think on every hole. There are so many different ways of playing it, and because of its small greens and narrow fairways, you really need to know what kind of shot you’ll be hitting,” he says about a place where he recorded top-25 finishes in his last two visits after missing the cut in his first three starts.
“If you ask for my top-five golf courses on Tour, I would pick Cordoba Golf Club first and then the spectacular Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic. My choice for third would be the Jockey Club in Buenos Aires, which is a luxury to play when it welcomes the Argentina Open. For my fourth pick, I can’t leave out Chapelco Golf being such a dream course in a breathtaking area. To close out my list, I’ll go with Los Leones in Chile, which barely edges out the Yucatan Country Club,” says Luna, who has played almost 50 different golf courses on Tour.
Luna through the years on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
When you travel this much, there are some tough itineraries to make, like the 3,630-mile trip to get to Antigua, Guatemala, from Cordoba, Argentina, in 2016. His next-longest trip was 3,371 miles, taking him home from Tijuana, Mexico in 2018.
Other long trips involve several tournaments in consecutive weeks. The longest of that kind saw him cover almost 10,000 miles while visiting four countries in a span of four weeks. It was the start of the second half of the 2016 season, which started on the west coast of Nicaragua. From there he went to San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and then to Quito, Ecuador, before finally heading to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Recalling so many trips made, I would say that the worst flight ever was a segment from Santiago, Chile, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2013. It was at night, and the turbulence was so bad that it felt like the plane was going to fall. It was a two-hour flight that felt like an eternity. It was my worst experience ever on a plane and I’m sure many of my fellow players on Tour remember that one quite well,” he says of the scary experience.
When it comes to his travel preferences, Luna always selects an aisle seat. He also avoids redeye flights, as those are tough to recover from in between tournaments. He can’t wait to get back to his traveling ways and to continue to pursue his dreams of success in golf.
“My game has grown a lot over the past few seasons, and every year I feel a little closer (to my goal). When my times comes, I believe I’ll be well prepared because of the way I have honed my skills on this Tour,” he says, hoping to put all the pieces together once the time to compete again arrives.