Player’s Take: Rowin Caron
May 18, 2020
By Rowin Caron, with Gregory Villalobos, PGA TOUR LA Communications
Born and raised in the Netherlands, Rowin Caron entered the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica scene in 2019. A graduate of the Florida State University in 2017, the 26-year old joined the Tour after tying for 23rd at the U.S. Qualifying Tournament at Mission Inn in Central Florida. His low conditional status didn’t automatically get him into tournaments, and that forced him to play Monday qualifiers to enter events. At the BMW Jamaica Classic, he turned one of those Mondays into a top 10 in only his second start of the season. He went on to have two other top 10s, making the cut in nine of 10 starts to finish the year ranked 32nd on the Order of Merit. Providing signs that he is a player to watch on Tour, in March he opened the 2020 season with a tie for third at the Estrella del Mar Open. Like everybody else, Caron is waiting for the season to resume.
My parents, Frank and Amée Caron, were race car drivers. They basically met on the racetracks competing against each other, and they ended up falling in love. The media loved the story: a couple with a baby boy battling each other for a podium finish. It was entertaining for sure.
They would bring me to the garages with them, and I even had my own racing overalls to wear. It featured my mom’s sponsors on one side and my dad’s sponsors on the other. I still have those overalls at home.
I was two or three years old when they actually stopped racing and moved to the south of the Netherlands, so it’s great to look back at the news articles written about them because I cannot really remember. Although they weren’t racing anymore, while I was growing up I always pushed them to take me to the racetrack to watch the cars and stuff. I love the smell of fuel and the sound of the roaring engines, so I guess it’s something that has always been in my blood.
I have been karting with my parents, and we have competed against each other in that setting, but I have never had the opportunity to actually race a car. I would love to do it, and hopefully I will get that opportunity at some point in the future.
My father had been playing golf for a couple of years before I was born. He picked up the game pretty fast, and he was good at it. I remember that by the age of four or five, I would be very upset because he would leave for the golf course with his buddies. Not long after that I was finally able to join him. I started playing and practicing more and more, and by the age of nine I had joined the Dutch U-12 National Team.
Beating my dad on the golf course was basically my only goal when I was growing up. He would never give me any strokes, so I always had a hard time battling him. The day before I turned 12, my time finally came, and I was able to beat him for the first time. I cannot remember my exact score, but I probably shot 10- or 11-over. He was about a 11-to-12 handicap at the time.
Nowadays, he still asks me if I want to give him any strokes when we play, but he doesn’t get any because he never gave them to me when I was a kid. I feel that my competitive nature comes from my parents, and looking back I think that by not giving me any strokes when I was young my dad made me more competitive. I think that has helped me a lot in the long run.
I won the Men’s National Stroke Play Championship in 2010. I was 17, and that was the first big tournament I won. At the time I had shot under par for a tournament only a couple of times, but that week I shot 17-under par in four rounds, so that was a huge week for me.
As national champion I was invited to play the European Tour’s KLM Open later that year. I was extremely nervous, but I actually played really well the first round. I shot 3-under 70 to rank inside the top 20, so I was interviewed next to eventual tournament champion, Martin Kaymer, at the media center. That was a little overwhelming and I wasn’t really ready for that yet. The next day, I shot 6-over and missed the cut, but it was a very cool learning experience.
I wasn’t planning on going to college in the U.S., because I had seen some Dutch guys who didn’t do well over there, so I was a little hesitant about it. My dad encouraged me to go ahead with a planned visit to the Florida State University. I didn’t know what to expect, but I ended up meeting the guys that were on the team, and they made me feel very welcomed.
Brooks Koepka was still there, and so was Daniel Berger. There were a lot of really good players on the team, and I got to practice with them, got to know them. I just kind of clicked with the guys and the coach right away. In addition to that, the weather was great, and I loved the environment FSU provided. I’m still happy that I took the decision to go there.
As a Seminole I ended up being teammates with Hank Lebioda, Cristóbal Del Solar, Joaquín Lolas and Josh Lee, all of whom have played or are playing on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica too. As freshmen, Cristóbal and I were roommates, and we became really good friends. It was a fun group of guys, and we became really close, practicing, traveling and spending a lot of time together. I guess FSU has been well represented in South America.
I had a good season leading into the 2015 Arnold Palmer Cup. I had some good finishes, and I was playing consistent, so I was asked to join the European team for the event at Rich Harvest Farms in Chicago. I was very excited to go play because it had a Ryder Cup feel to it. One of the many highlights that week was getting to meet Arnold Palmer. I remember shaking hands with him, and the overall experience was really cool. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but it was still fun.
After graduating from FSU in 2017 I was excited to turn pro and start playing. I went back to the Netherlands, a decision that was financially motivated because I didn’t have that much money to start with. I was just going to stay at my parents’ house and play in Europe. I played European Tour Q-School in the fall, but I missed out, so I ended up playing the Alps Tour for two years.
My European mini-tour experience didn’t go well. I was just getting frustrated, impatient, and I wasn’t really having a good time. I decided to play the 2019 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Q-School, and that was kind of my last option because I was running out of money. I made it through with conditional status, but it wasn’t good enough to enter tournaments early in the year. Fortunately, by Mondaying into Jamaica and finishing in the top 10 there I was set up for the rest of the season.
Last summer I also had some good results on the European Challenge Tour, and I went back to the KLM Open, where I played well enough to tie for 27th. The 2019 season was a very positive one and I went back to enjoying myself.
Making it to the PGA TOUR has always been a goal of mine, and by joining PGA TOUR Latinoamérica I feel I’m headed in that direction. I have gotten my visa, and now I have moved back to the U.S. No Dutch player has had a PGA TOUR card, so I’m aiming to be the first one.
You can follow Rowin on Instagram at @rowincaron