A dominant performance in regionals has landed the Iowan in his second National Finals.
As a rule, Drive, Chip and Putt is not one of those events that prompts people to talk about favorites and who is going to win in the different age divisions. The golfers are so young, and their playing résumés so sparse, that it is difficult to predict who is most likely to come out on top.
There are exceptions, of course, and one of those can be found in this year’s Boys 14-15 division. His name is Mateo Rascon, and the 15-year-old high school sophomore from Burlington, Iowa, has tongues wagging after his performance in regional qualifying at the Colorado Golf Club in 2019. First, he dominated the driving part of the competition, crushing one tee shot that measured 367 yards. Then he holed one of his chips and drained a 15-foot putt.
Those feats helped Rascon accumulate an astounding 205 points out of a possible 225. They also secured his trip to Augusta National for Sunday’s National Finals.
It is the second time the Iowan has made it so far in the DCP. His first appearance came in 2017, when he finished second in the Boys 10-11 division. Now, he has a second chance at a title.
“I love being back here,” said Rascon, who has attempted to quality for every DCP National Finals since the competition came to be in 2013. “And I still cannot believe what I did in regionals. I didn’t think I could ever score more than 200 points. But I managed to hit some pretty good shots.”
Golf has been a part of Rascon’s life ever since he was 2 years old, when his parents gave him a set of plastic clubs. He said he started playing regularly when he was 5 years old – and after his parents had upgraded his bag with what Rascon describes as “a real set of sticks.”
“I loved to hit the ball everywhere,” he said. “And I was always trying to hit it farther than anyone else.”
Rascon began entering tournaments when he was 7, and a few years after that was playing well enough to play in his first Drive, Chip and Putt qualifiers.
Rascon honed his skills in the game at the Burlington Golf Club.
“My parents are members, and I am down there all the time,” he said. “I play as much as I can with my brother Tomas, who is a year younger and has made it to the regionals of Drive, Chip and Putt but never the National Finals. I also work with the head professional at Burlington. His name is Joe Butler, and I call him Joe the Pro. He plays a big role in my life, and my golf, and he helps me tremendously.”
“We try to work together four or five days a week,” added Rascon, who describes Jordan Spieth as being his favorite player, for the ways he carries himself on and off the golf course. “And if the weather is good, Joe and I will go out every day.”
It seems that Rascon can never get enough golf, and a challenge he and his brother accepted last spring from their mother, Stacy, proved that.
“She asked us to find an activity during the pandemic that we could focus on and improve on during that time,” he said. “My sister Sela chose baking, but Tomas and I chose golf. Our mother asked us to set a goal, and we decided to each play 500 holes in the month of May. Which we did.”
As much as he likes the royal and ancient game, Rascon immerses himself in other activities. He plays on his high school basketball team in the winter and competes on a high-level travel baseball team in the summer months.
But his focus this Sunday is on his golf. He’ll have Stacy as his caddie, and he’ll be looking to follow up on his otherworldly performance in the regional qualifier at Colorado.