How The Farms’ Kyle Mendoza captured the SCPGA Section Championship
A little family time, a healthy back, and more confidence in his swing all helped play a role in Kyle Mendoza winning the biggest golf tournament of his life.
A resident of South Oceanside, Mendoza captured the 2020 Southern California PGA Section Championship September 14-16 by beating Brian Smock and two-time winner Michael Block by two shots.
Mendoza, a golf professional at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, fired rounds of 66 and 69 on the Players Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort to mount a two-shot lead going into the final round at Ironwood Country Club, where he shot an even-par 72 (207 total) to secure the $12,000 winner’s check.
With the victory, Mendoza qualifies to play in the 2021 PGA Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, next spring, and the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course January 28-31.
A product of Covina High School and Citrus College, Mendoza currently serves as Director of Performance at The Farms’ Performance Center. We caught up with him to find out more about his victory and golf game:
What was the key to winning the Section Championship?
I had a few. First off, having my wife and four kids out there with me was awesome. We rented a house for the week and we all had such a great time! I think the best shots I saw all week were in the shuffleboard games my wife Chelsea and I played with our two oldest kids Kennedy (9) and Hayes (6). Those games were such a cool way to end each night!
Secondly, I have been working on how much conviction I have in my golf swing and in my game. The last couple of years I have been getting close to playing really great golf in every event I tee it up in. But once in a while I would doubt myself and hit shots that I didn’t even know were possible, which I thought was weird. In thinking about it, I figured out that I need to continuously remind myself to breath and slow down in certain situations so that I can have a clear picture of what I wanted to do with each and every shot.
Also, I have recently found a bill of new health in regards to my back. The last several years I have dealt with really bad back spasms and overall lower back pain. I started seeing Dr. Janice Cruz, DC in Oceanside in 2019 but really started to go quite a bit this year. The work and routines that she has done with me have changed my life from both golfing and daily living standpoints. I don’t wake up with much pain anymore and I know what I have to do to get my body to perform a golf swing every day without the possibility of hurting myself. She is incredible!
What was it like knowing two-time champ Michael Block was right behind you?
Michael is great player. We have been pretty good friends for about eight years. I have watched him build his PGA playing career from the bottom up. He is always dangerous in these type of situations. However, I knew that if I accomplished my goals that I had written down for that final round, and didn’t pay any attention to the players who were trailing me, it would take something special for one of them to win. I could only control myself and what I do. I couldn’t control what anyone else was going to do.
How did you feel going into the final round with a two-shot lead?
I felt really confident in myself going into the final round. I liked where my head was at and I liked where my game was at. I set a few goals heading into the last round. Each had a certain place and time in which I wanted to accomplish them. One of the goals was to continue to be aggressive and get off to good start. Hitting a great opening tee shot and sand wedge to 2 feet on the first hole just about accomplished that. We were off and running after that!
How did you prepare for the Section Championship?
Practice, practice, and practice. In our business it doesn’t take much to run out of time to work on your game. Luckily, I have a great support system at home and when we have a tournament coming up, my wife and family are understanding about what I need to do to prepare for that.
What are your thoughts about playing in the 2021 PGA Professional Championship and the Farmers Insurance Open?
I am really excited about these opportunities. The PGA Professional Championship has always been on my list. I finally completed my PGA membership at the beginning of 2019. So I’m glad I’m able to play in it right away. As for the Farmers, I’ve dreamed about competing in a PGA Tour event since I was a kid. I can’t wait for January!
What are your greatest strengths as a player and why?
My ability to accept my bad shots and move on to the next. I am not perfect. No one is. So why should I be shocked or upset when I hit a bad shot? I move on and figure out a way to recover from it.
What do you enjoy about being a golf instructor?
I really enjoy watching people improve their golf swing and golf game. I’m glad that I can be a part of that process and watch them progress each and every time they come out.
How would you describe your teaching style?
Fun! I have lots of fun while I’m teaching. I don’t try to teach one golf swing to all of my students. Some instructors can be stubborn in regards to that. I take what the student has and what the student can do physically and enhance it for them. My students always leave with a sense that the golf swing isn’t as complicated as they make it out to be.
How did you get started playing the game?
I started playing the game when I was about 5 years old. I would go with my dad and older brother to driving range and hit golf balls until they had to pull me away from that place.
What is your most treasured golf possession?
Other than the trophy I just won? I would say a room key I have from Spanish Bay. In 2017, I played in my third TaylorMade National Championship at Pebble Beach and Spyglass. With five holes to play I had a one-shot lead at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links. I completely lost my mind and failed to keep my focus on the shots at hand and finished five over the last five holes, dropping me from first place to seventh. I got complacent and over confident that I had the tournament won even though there was still work to do. I was devastated. Walking off of the 18th green I couldn’t even comprehend what just happened. When I left the next day, I kept my room key from Spanish Bay as a reminder to never be complacent in anything I do in life and to always push forward with the best intention without worrying about the outcome, good or bad.
Best golf tip you’ve ever received?
“Hit the ball like you don’t care where it is going to go.” It allows me to swing with the best intention each and every time without trying to control where the ball is going to go.
NOTE: In addition to Mendoza, the following players have qualified for the 2021 PGA Professional Championship: Brian Smock, Michael Block, Steve Saunders, Logan Scott, Mike Fergin, Alan Sorensen, Chris Boyle, Mark Geddes, Tim Parun, Shane Ponchot, Mike Mitchell, and Alison Curdt.
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Greetings, fellow golfers, and welcome to SoCal Golf Insider! We are Rob Lyon and Eric Marson and we've been reporting and writing about the game throughout the region since 1995. Here, we will provide you with the latest news, features, reviews and more on all things golf in Southern California. Let’s tee it up!
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