Monday, 11 March 2019
Hugo Leon   (Getty Images)
Hugo Leon (Getty Images)

Hugo Leon has played golf all around the world but is still fascinated by the different places he gets to see in his rookie season on the European Tour.

The 34-year-old secured his debut campaign on the European Tour in 2018 after earning the 24th card at the Qualifying School Final Stage in Lumine.

The Chile native did so in style too, registering his first birdie of the final round on the final hole to claim his playing privileges.

As a result, he added the European Tour to his long list of Tours he has played on across the globe, which includes the US PGA Tour, the Tour, the PGA Tour Latinoamérica, the MacKenzie Tour and the China Tour before his sole campaign on the Challenge Tour last year.

His talents were also on show when he took part in the golf-based American reality television programme Big Break in 2008, where he finished runner up alongside Camila Mori.

Leon has been in the winner's circle on two occasions while on the Canadian Tour at the ATB Financial Classic in 2011 and the Great Waterway Classic two years later, and was one of the first five players to earn status when the Canadian Tour converted to the PGA Tour Canada.

"There are a few (left to play) but I've been moving around," Leon said. "I have been fortunate enough to play in many different places and I have never really thought of it up until the last couple of years when I decided to come over to this side of the Atlantic and start chasing it over here. 

"It's something I never really thought about when starting up but it's turned out to something that I cherish big time."

The World Number 581 admitted he should have tried his luck on the European Tour earlier in his career and had nothing but praise for the way of life, the travelling and varied course layouts involved.

"Looking back I kind of regret not coming over to Europe a little earlier. I think the way the game is played over here suits my game better and I feel there is more opportunity for the group, for everybody on the Tour.

"Once you get your card, you get the chance to play more, you don't have to look over your back, schedule something every four weeks, which is something I like.

"I like the variety. I love that each country has got their own way of seeing the game. I think that is something really interesting, I love coming to a course and trying to figure out how to go around it. I love that.

"Different cultures, different everything. Seeing different places is something most people work all of their life to do when they can and I do it for a living.

"It is just so entertaining. I've had a blast so far playing over here. I love the competition, I love the type of golf that needs to be played. I love the difference from week-to-week, it's just beautiful.

"It's just a journey. It's cool, I really enjoy playing over here. It's been a beautiful year and a half so far and I think great things are to come."

Chile is not renowned for its golf heritage but Leon gave an insight into how he got into the sport.

"Family. My dad and my uncle were outstanding players, especially my dad. 

"When I was about 11, my dad invited me to play a tournament over in the States in the Junior World in San Diego and I went there with my grandfather and played in the 11/12 division as the younger one of the group. I finished 22nd so I thought 'I'll practice at this for next year, it could be a good thing'. 

"Once I got back, I asked my dad 'look is there anywhere I could go next year' and he said 'look, the same rules apply, if you get the grades then you can do what you want' and from there on out, it's been my sole passion - I just love playing."

Leon's best performance to date on the European Tour is a tied for 21st at the Oman Open earlier this month and he also produced a fine opening round at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters last week.

And those displays have given the Chilean confidence that he can make an impact at the top of the leaderboard on the European Tour in the near future.

"I'm going to play my heart out, that's for sure. I love playing. I love competing. I try to play as much as I can as I always do and my game is in good shape. I feel like it's very close to something really good to happen. 

"I think I've got the game, I think I've got the skill and the practice so I'm hoping to get some really good results in the near future."

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