Our 2017 ANNIKA Invitational Latin America Champion and this month’s featured player is Valeria Sofia Pacheco. The 17-year-old played in three out of our four junior tournaments this year but it was in Argentina that Pacheco took home the trophy. Earlier in the year, Valeria played in the ANNIKA Invitational USA in Florida and a couple months later, participated in the ANNIKA Invitational Europe in Sweden. Winning aside, the Puerto Rican said that she enjoyed Latin America the most because of the friendships that were made with the other girls and touring the beautiful city of Buenos Aires.
We spoke with Valeria shortly after her win in Argentina. Here’s what she had to say.
What is your biggest fear?
I try my best to live fearlessly, life is too short!
Who is your favorite golfer?
Definitely Jordan Spieth, besides being an incredible golfer, it is so much fun watching him play. I love when he talks to himself, I sometimes do that myself.
What is your favorite song?
My favorite song is Love by Kendrick Lamar.
If you could have one super power, what would it be?
Invisibility, for sure!
What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
One thing I couldn’t live without, my phone… and food, I love food!
What is something that not many people know about you?
Not many people know I can draw.
What is your favorite golf course you’ve played so far?
Oh wow! Tough question, I have a few favorites but I will have to say Royal Liverpool in Manchester, England. I don’t think I’ve ever genuinely enjoyed getting destroyed by a course as much as I did while I was there.
How do you spend your free time outside of golf?
Drawing, I love to spend my quiet time drawing.
Who is your biggest role model and why?
My mom. She’s the most hard-working person I know and she always pushes me to be the best person, student and golfer. She’s always there for me and I don’t know who I’d be without her.
How/why did you start playing golf?
I learned to love the game because of my dad. He used to take me to the driving range in the afternoon and I fell in love with the game. I used to dance competitively too but when I turned 9 years old, I wanted to practice more so… dance classes were over. Sorry mom!
Congratulations on your recent win at the ANNIKA Invitational Latin America. What were your thoughts going into the week? What emotions did you feel going into the final round?
Thank you! I played the AILA last year so I knew it was going to be fun and since I played the course last year, I felt comfortable. I love the ANNIKA Invitationals, they are competitive but also very fun. Annika is such an inspiration to me that is almost a surreal feeling to see her at the course watching us. I was definitely excited for the opportunity to come back. By the final round, I felt nervous and excited. I knew I just needed to play my game so I just focused on that.
Do you have a pre-round routine? If so, what is it?
I take about an hour and 10 minutes to warm up. I get to the practice area and hit a few putts just to get a nice rhythm. Then I go to the range for 30 minutes and after hitting balls, I go back to the putting green and hit some chips and finish with some longer putts.
How do you stay calm and focused when you are not playing your best?
When I’m not at my best, I just focus on playing one shot at a time. I try to avoid thinking about past shots or holes during the round, even future holes. I tried to keep my focus on the shot that I’m playing at that moment. One more thing…I tried not to overthink.
What was your best round so far and where did it take place?
I had a few 69’s that are very memorable for me. At the Caribbean Amateur in Jamaica, of course the ANNIKA Invitational in Argentina but I shot a 71 (-2) at the Junior Open in Barassie, Scotland, tough course par 73. It was so amazing.
Do you have anything you would like to share with young golfers like yourself?
Golf teaches you more about yourself and life than just the game itself. You learn the importance of patience, confidence and integrity. You love it because you can always be better and do better and it pushes you really hard. And no matter what, you should never give up.
Fearless and hardworking is certainly a recipe for success and Valeria has proven just that. She has been a part of the Puerto Rico Junior National Team every year since 2011. Scheduled to graduate in May, Valeria is verbally committed to play college golf at Texas Christian University. Her best advice to other aspiring female golfers who just started playing the game; “Practice and work hard, it’s absolutely worth it!” It certainly works for her. We are looking forward to watching Valeria play in years to come and wish her the best of luck with her future in golf and in life!