The Mexico Open at Vidanta 2023 concluded with the triumph of the American Tony Finau and with the second place of the number 1 in the world, the Spanish Jon Rahm. However, for Benjamín Salinas Sada, vice president of the Salinas Group Council, the most important thing was the participation of seven Mexican golfers, with two –Sebastián Vázquez and Raúl Pereda– making the cut in this PGA Tour tournament.
For the businessman, who is one of the most important promoters of this sport, the objective is that there are more and more national elements that can play against the best exponents in the world.
What are your impressions of the competition?
First impressions are that it was a success. Because? Because we are experiencing a vast improvement from year one to year two. In year one we had about four months to do it, it was something like that of a ‘bomberazo’, but we went out; really what we see from one year to the next is a vast improvement. We see that attendees and fans have a better experience, players (same), everyone spreads the word. The truth is a super headquarters. Our Vidanta partners have treated us wonderfully and the course was good with all the changes that the PGA Tour has made to it.
There were players like Jon Rahm and Tony Finau, who are in the Top… Is it key that they come to spread the word to other sports stars?
Sure, they’re keys to the show. It’s great that we have the number 1 in the world. For the show it is very good, but for me there are many other key things, for me it is very important to see Raúl Pereda, Sebastián Vázquez, José Cristóbal Islas, Roberto Lebrija. They are kids who are killing themselves to be there, competing against the best in the world. With this we give them the opportunity to show what they have and that is really what moves me, that there are more and more Latin Americans and Mexicans playing against these PGA Tour monsters and this is the key tournament for them to get to that. .
Are these actions important for Mexican golf to continue having its opportunities?
Completely. That is literally the objective, it was what we negotiated with the PGA Tour, that the first years, editions that we had of WGC, we only had one exception, an invitation for one player. This year we have 12. Why is that important? It is not that we want to invite 12 friends or acquaintances, that is irrelevant. We want to have 12 qualifying tournaments for players from Mexico, from Latin America. When you hear the stories of these guys, where they come from, what they’ve had to do to even have a slight chance to be playing against these (international golfers), that’s what moves us. That we can be a slightly easier way to get to the PGA Tour than it is today for a Latin American.
We know what Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz have done, who, although they are no longer on the PGA Tour, still have their name. But the accesses that can be had are important. That the golf courses are more accessible, scholarships for the youngest…
The truth is that there are many shortcomings in Mexico for golf. It continues to be an almost inaccessible sport, because you have to be a member to play, and I was talking with several who support us in our First Tee chapters that our Diamante partners in Los Cabos have 130 kids all by themselves, in their field and they give them all the facilities. We are trying to make a First Tee card so that they, with members of that card, can play on other courses in Mexico. In other words, they are things that have to be built, they are not going to happen from one day to the next, but if we look back six years to here, I think there is progress, but we are still not where we want to be. All universities in Mexico should have a golf team, have high-performance schools… that’s where we’re going. It starts with something. Six years ago there was not a single kid and today at First Tee there are 500; We didn’t have players on the PGA Tour and today there are several. We had no tournament opportunities and there they are.
Do you have plans to help the 13-15 year olds? Because there are the bases…
Really using the soccer analogy, all the teams have their youth teams and there are training academies. In golf it does not exist. There is good children’s golf until they are 13 or 14 years old and then there is a gap, they disappear and they appear again in universities in the United States. We must make junior tournaments, associations with the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association), with the LAAC (Latin America Amateur Championship), begin to build these tissues downwards, with tournaments that allow the kids to score points in the ranking and have opportunities to play other tournaments like in the United States. That is what makes them grow.
What other plans are coming soon?
There are many plans. We are in talks with all the organizers of golf events. This year more than 40 were played and next year there will be 30. There are fewer and fewer windows to play and there is more and more competition. I think that this one at Vidanta is a very important tournament and we should do other things for golf, do something with women and that we have to build more tournaments down towards the PGA Tour Americas so that they have a chance to play this tournament. We will build the pyramid to get to the PGA Tour.
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