PETALING JAYA: For the last three years, former PGA Tour player Miguel Carballo has made Malaysia his home as he sought to make a name for himself in Asia.
The 41-year-old Argentinian, who had spent most of his career in the United States, tasted some success when he won his maiden Asian Tour title, the Indonesian Open, in September last year.
The win whetted his appetite for more honours but the Covid-19 pandemic dealt a cruel blow as sporting events around the world came to a halt.
Carballo played a waiting game harbouring hopes that the situation would eventually return to normal.
However, his hopes diminished when the Asian Tour’s plans to restart the circuit in September failed to materialise.
With no certainty in sight, Carballo decided to pack his golf bag and bid goodbye to a country which holds a special place in his heart.
Before taking off for Buenos Aires last week to reunite with his family, Carballo said he would have few qualms about setting up base in Malaysia when he returns.
“I thought the situation would improve in Asia but it’s been badly hit too, ” said Carballo, who has been staying in a condominium in Ara Damansara.
“It’s so tough for everyone. I don’t think we would have ever imagined this was going to happen and drag on for so long.
“I don’t know when I’ll be back but hopefully when the situation gets better, I’ll return for sure.
“It’s goodbye for now, certainly not farewell.”
In Argentina, they say “chau” for goodbye and “hola” for hello and that’s what Carballo hopes to do in the future.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on Carballo’s playing opportunities it did give him a chance to explore the country.
“I got to know about places like Penang, Ipoh, Pangkor Island. I enjoyed it so much. There’s just so much to explore... the culture, food, activities and history, ” added Carballo.
As much as Carballo enjoys Malaysian foods, he admitted that he has yet to get used to the spicy fare.
“When I first came over, it was really nice to see the vast food culture here. In Argentina, we mostly eat pasta, barbecued meat and steaks.“I enjoy mee goreng mamak, roti canai, nasi lemak but you know, I still cannot take the ‘hot’ stuff. I’m still trying, ” he quipped.
Carballo, who had two wins from Korn Ferry Tour (US secondary circuit) and one on the Challenge Tour (European secondary circuit), didn’t take long to make his presence felt in Asia.
In 2018, Carballo became the first Argentinian to be crowned the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit champion following a season which saw him pick up a title and eight top-10 finishes.
The feat secured him a promotion to the Asian Tour last year where he staged a remarkable comeback to win the Indonesian Open after overcoming a six-shot deficit on the final day.
“I’ve never won any Order of Merits in my career before. So, it was nice to end 2018 with the trophy, ” said Carballo.
“It got even better last year when I won the Phuket Open (on ADT) followed by the Indonesian Open. I even represented my country at the Pan-American Games in Peru.
“So, I was really hoping to do even better this year. But unfortunately, it was not meant to be.”
Did you find this article insightful?