Q&A: Serna on Mexican golf, Nationwide Tour, more

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Oscar Serna was a career-high ninth last week at The Rex Hospital Open.
June 05, 2012
Laury Livsey, Nationwide Tour staff

Oscar Serna is no stranger to the Nationwide Tour, having played two previous seasons on the circuit, in 2001 and 2003, as well as select events over the last eight years. Serna is back as a full-time member this year, fresh off a tie for ninth at last week's Rex Hospital Open in North Carolina. This week, he's playing in the Mexico Open on his home course, El Bosque Country Club in Leon, with the added benefit of playing with his two brothers and father, who are also in the field.

If you follow Mexican golf, the Serna family is not an unfamiliar name. Efren Serna, Sr., the patriarch of the golf-playing Sernas, first represented Mexico at the 1993 World Cup at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla., and each of Efren's sons -- Oscar, Antonio and Efren, Jr., have carved out careers in golf, with Efren, Jr. turning in a 64-69 finish at the 2010 Mexico Open to finish one stroke out of the Jamie Lovemark-B.J. Staten playoff. Antonio's best Nationwide Tour finish came last year at the Mexico Open, when he tied for 58th.

Tuesday, adjacent to El Bosque's practice putting green, Oscar talked with Nationwide Tour staff member Laury Livsey about what it will be like playing on his home course in the Mexico Open for a fourth consecutive year.

You've never missed the cut since this became a Nationwide Tour event. Do you feel added pressure this week with your brothers and dad in the field and so many family and friends here to watch??

Serna: Probably a little more pressure because my family and friends will be here. And I'm the only Mexican on the Nationwide Tour. I think there will be more than 200 family and friends here to watch all of us this week.

Playing in a tournament with your brothers isn't anything new. All three of you played in this event last year. Any thoughts about that?

It is awesome to play with my family, with my brothers and my father. It's truly unbelievable.

Some have called the Sernas the "first family" of Mexican golf. Do you feel that way?

Serna: Maybe so. My father has played in the World Cup. I played World Cup three times, in 1997, 2008 and 2011. Last year, I was a team with Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, and we tied for 13th in China. My brother two years ago came close to winning this tournament, missing by one shot. So, yes, we're a big family with golf.

Did you have a choice not to play golf when you were young, or is it something ingrained in your family??

Serna: I started playing when I was 4. I love this game, it's my life. It means everything to me.

You come into the Mexico Open off a good showing in Raleigh. Actually, the tie for ninth was your career-best Nationwide Tour finish.

Serna: Yes, I played really good except for the start of my third round. I bogeyed five of the first six holes. That ruined my tournament. I didn't play good in the third round. I had five bogeys on the first six holes on the front nine, but then I played the last 30 holes 6 under.

Can you compare the Oscar Serna of 2003, your last full year on the Nationwide Tour, with the Oscar Serna of today??

Serna: I'm much better now. My experience makes a difference. But the Nationwide Tour has really good players, and it is tough out here. But golf, it's the same game on the Nationwide Tour or the PGA TOUR. You have to play well in both places. But it's good to see South Americans like Camilo Villegas and Jhonattan Vegas play here and then go to the PGA TOUR and win.

Are those the players who inspire you??

Yes, but not as much as my idol for my whole life, Seve Ballesteros. I love him and the way he played. His shots were unbelievable.

This is a course you're very familiar with. How many rounds a year do you play at El Bosque??

Serna: Probably 300 or maybe a little more. Maybe not that many this year because I'm playing on the Nationwide Tour. But I play here a lot, I love this course, and I have a lot of practice done at this course.

How do you characterize El Bosque? Is there a certain type player the course favors?

Serna: I think the long hitter has the advantage. The course is over 7,700 yards, and there are four holes in a row that are very tough -- six, seven, eight and nine. I think they are the best holes on the golf course. No. 6 is a tough par 4, 536 yards. Next hole is a par 3, 270 yards, and the eighth is a par 5, 546 yards. No. 9 is a par-4, a lake on the left side and bunkers on the right. It's a really good hole.

So this week No. 6, at 536 yards is a par-4, and No. 8, at 546 yards, will play as a par-5??

Serna: Yes, sir.