On Saturday, Arizona State sophomore golf sensation Benjamin Alvarado, also known as Alvarado-Holley, captured the NCAA West Regional at the Karsten Course in Tempe. It was his first college victory after coming close on numerous occasions.
On Tuesday, Alvarado told The Tribune he will play in just one more college tournament for the Sun Devils before the native of Santiago, Chile, turns professional this summer.
“I’ve actually known about this for a while,’’ said the 21-year-old Alvarado, who revealed he had told ASU coach Randy Lein of his decision last fall.
“For one thing, I think my game is ready (for the pro ranks). But also, I was struggling in my classes with the language, with English. Basically, I’m not doing very well in school. … Randy understood my decision, and he’s OK with it.”
Lein called Alvarado “a tremendous talent’’ and pointed to his victory in last week’s regional as a sign that big things await the red-hot Chilean.
“Well, for one thing,” Lein said, “Benjamin set the 54-hole record at Karsten last week with an 18-under score that was two shots better than the previous mark (held by former ASU All-American Alejandro Carnizares).
Alvarado said he had leaned on Carnizares last season, and it was tough when the Spaniard graduated from school and turned professional.
“Alejandro was the only one who spoke Spanish like me, and I was sorry to see him go,” Alvarado said.
“We still talk often, and I consider Alejandro my best friend because he has helped me so much.”
When and where Alvarado turns pro remains up in the air, he said. First he plans to play in the NCAA championship next week in Williamsburg, Va., and then return home to Chile.
“Right now I’m just waiting for an exemption, hopefully in Europe,” Alvarado said. “Worst-case scenario, I’ll play the South American tour.”
Alvarado said he wants people to know him in the future as just Alvarado, not Alvarado-Holley.