My Shot Winning at Hilton Head has changed my life, but I'll never forget where I came from

April 29, 2001

I began dreaming about winning a PGA Tour event 25 years ago,
when I won a set of clubs--the first new set I had ever owned--for
finishing first in Argentina's national caddies' tournament. On
the practice tee I would pretend I had a huge gallery and would
graciously wave to my imaginary fans. Thank God nobody saw me. My
wish came true two weeks ago, when I beat Billy Mayfair in sudden
death to win the WorldCom Classic.

Life after the victory has been overwhelming. Nobody used to
recognize me, even in Argentina, so when other passengers asked
for my autograph on the flight home, I was shocked. I was mobbed
by journalists when we stepped off the plane in Buenos Aires, and
a few days later a taxi driver gave me a big thumbs-up. That was
a lovely, but unexpected, moment. So many friends and journalists
called the house, I instructed my wife, Monica, and my children
to tell people I wasn't home. I needed time to reflect.

As usual, I'll go alone on my victory walk, a 23-mile hike from
my house on the outskirts of Buenos Aires to the famous Basilica
of the Virgin of Lujan, where I give thanks after a win. I also
plan to visit Chaco, the province in northern Argentina where I
grew up, because I want to donate clubs to the caddies. My 10
brothers and I caddied as boys, and now five of us are either
touring or teaching pros. We couldn't afford clubs as kids so we
built them ourselves. We'd go deep into the forest to get
branches from "tala negra" trees--the best trees for making
clubs--strip the bark, and carve glass-smooth clubs out of the
heart of the wood.

I've been a member of the European tour since 1991, but now I'm
going to focus on the U.S. I love American fans, but it's
important to acknowledge my fans at home, too, because they
suffer and celebrate with me. That's why I wrote, FOR ALL MY
FAMILY, FOR ALL MY FRIENDS, FOR ALL ARGENTINA, A MILLION THANKS
on a pillowcase and waved it to the gallery after my victory at
Hilton Head.

Jose Coceres's next start will be the May 3-6 Compaq Classic.

COLOR PHOTO: MATTHEW STOCKMAN/ALLSPORT

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)