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LGBT on the links

Posted: March 17th, 2017 | Features, Interviews, News, Sports & Fitness, Top Story | No Comments

By Morgan M. Hurley | Editor

Young lesbian player in town for Kia Classic to have meet and greet fundraiser

The annual Kia Classic tennis tournament — March 20–26, at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad — is the closest San Diegans get to the LPGA tour, unless they take a trip to Palm Springs the following week for the ANA Inspiration championship (formerly the Kraft Nabisco Championship), during Dinah Shore Weekend.

The 2017 Kia will feature 144 women golfers, including Paula Creamer, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wei, Lexi Thompson, and the 2016 winner, Lydia Ko.

The field for this year’s tournament will also include a young, out-lesbian player: Regan de Guzman, a 25-year-old rookie on this year’s LPGA tour.

Born in 1992, de Guzman is one of three children of Romeo and Tet De Guzman, and aside from golf, also considers herself an artist; an actor; a songwriter and guitarist; a diver; and an avid gymnast before stepping away to pursue her love of golf.

The local Filipino-American Chamber is raising money to cover de Guzman’s rookie tour expenses. (Photo by Anh Dao)

Before becoming a pro, de Guzman played for more than a decade in amateur golf tournaments all over the world, but she recently earned her LPGA tour card by participating in the LPGA’s annual “Q School,” or “qualifying tournament.”

The Q School consists of two sectional qualifying tournaments, which took place last September and October, where de Guzman had to perform in the top 30 of her sectional to advance to the “final qualifying tournament.”

Last December she performed well enough in that final qualifier to find herself in the top 20 and receive the coveted “full tour card.” De Guzman said a full card gets her into most tour events, while those with a partial are regulated as alternates or on waiting lists for tournaments.

According to Wikipedia, getting through the Q School of such an elite tour is “very competitive” and “most professional golfers never achieve it.”

A recent graduate of San Jose State, de Guzman is also the only Filipina golfer with a full tour card for 2017; another Filipina, Dottie Ardina, has partial status.

After watching an introductory video on de Guzman’s Facebook fan page (visit tinyurl.com/gwsjlsv), we reached out to learn a little more about this young golfing phenom.

(Gay San Diego | GSD) Where were you born?
(Regan de Guzman | RDG) I was born in Quezon City, metro Manila, in the Philippines. The golf course I play at is 2 1/2 – 3 hours south of Manila.

(GSD) Did you pick San Jose State or did they pick you?
(RDG) The school picked me — I got [offered] a full ride from my junior year to senior year — and I decided to fully commit after doing my research about the school’s athletic history. Also, I knew other Filipinos in the golf team at that time.

(GSD) When did you first come out?
(RDG) I came out when I was 18 years old, but people already knew that I was gay. I just didn’t confirm because of other personal issues.

(GSD) Your bio and the video both say that you endured a lot of bullying. Did that happen after you got to the states?
(RDG) I was never bullied in California, I just wasn’t sure of coming out [while on] a golf team and I didn’t know how my coach and other people would react if they knew I was gay. When I was in elementary school in the Philippines, I was humiliated by my classmates and teachers.

(GSD) Which players on the tour (past and present – LPGA and PGA) do you look up to?
(RDG) LPGA — Lorena Ochoa (retired); PGA — Rory McIlroy

(GSD) What has been the most memorable thing that you’ve done since playing golf?
(RDG) Before Q school I would [have said] winning the 2007 Thailand Ladies Open but now, making it on the LPGA Tour.

(GSD) What are your goals for this year and the future?
(RDG) Not to let anyone or anything take my dream away, by not worrying and thinking about what they say about me and about my game. I would love to give back to my country by giving hope to kids who want to become professional golfers and are hungry for success. I would like to pursue my father’s mangrove project/foundation in Cebu.

San Diego’s Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce is so excited to have de Guzman in town for the Kia, that they are holding a special welcome reception and fundraiser for the potential rising star, to help fund her tour expenses while she travels through her rookie year.

Regan de Guzman is the only Filipina on this year’s LPGA tour. (Photo by Anh Dao)

The event, which will include a meet and greet with de Guzman, will be held March 20, from 6:30–8:30 p.m., at Happy Sushi, located at 8973 Mira Mesa Blvd., in Mira Mesa.

A suggested donation of $20 at the door will go toward the fundraiser and there will be a silent auction.

For those who cannot attend the meet and greet, organizers have launched a GoFundMe page, called “Regan’s Journey.” The page explains why there is a need to raise funds for a professional golfer.

“Recently graduating from San Jose State University and transitioning from her student visa, Regan is primarily depending on financial support from her single-parent mom, Tet De Ocampo Guzman, who is still based in the Philippines.

“Financial success is not guaranteed for the LPGA tour. If Regan does not make the cut to play the weekend, she gets $0 for her effort. Even if she makes the cut, the prize money is only in the low thousands for most of the players. And for Regan to retain her tour card for next year, she needs to be in the 100th to 125th in the tour earnings ranking. Unfortunately, the money is not the same between the PGA and LPGA tours. …

“This fundraising campaign is to help Regan and Tet jumpstart Regan’s dream of having a long career as an LPGA tour professional. This will help Regan put her focus on the golf course so she can make her tournament cuts and ensure her tour card for next year. Whatever else she achieves will then be icing on the cake.”

For more information about the meet and greet, visit tinyurl.com/gmrslo5. To contribute separately to de Guzman’s journey, visit the GoFundMe page at tinyurl.com/jukbb2z.

To learn more about the Kia Classic, visit kiaclassic.com.

—Reach Morgan M. Hurley at morgan@sdcnn.com.

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