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    Kagay-anon Jungolfer garners US Scholarship with NCAA Division II school

    Kiara Montebon is set to leave for the United States in August to attend Texas A&M International University, a public institution in Laredo, Texas. This move fulfills a dream she has nurtured since childhood and is the primary reason she took up golf at the age of eight.

    Her mother, Ethel Zaldivar, initially had reservations due to the high costs associated with golf. However, understanding that golf could lead to a potential college scholarship in the US, she did everything she could to support Kiara’s golf career.

    Kiara Montebon is set to join the Texas A&M Dustdevils.

    It was Kiara’s mom who suggested she try golf after researching online about how to secure college scholarships in the US.

    In no time, Kiara’s fondness for golf grew.

    “I gave up ballet in favor of golf when I got serious at the age of 12,” she recounted.

    Before she focused on golf, Kiara was into swimming and badminton. She was also the lead guitarist in her band.

    Kiara hails from Cagayan de Oro, an emerging golf hotbed in Mindanao.

    She polished her skills at Pueblo de Oro and nearby Del Monte, home to one of the country’s greatest golfers, Frankie Minoza.

    Before the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines made Mindanao a regular stop, Kiara had to fly to Metro Manila and Cebu to join tournaments.

    Kiara shows the form that enabled her to garner a full scholarship from Texas A&M International University.

    She took part in the IMG Junior World Championships in San Diego in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2023. She had a Top 10 finish in the 2021 US Kids Teen World Championships at Pinehurst.

    She also ended up in the Top 10 of the 2020 Philippine Ladies Amateur Open.

    This year, Kiara clinched the girls’ Class A title in the JGFP Mindanao Open at the Pueblo de Oro Golf and Country Club in Cagayan de Oro.

    Kiara, who graduated from Abba’s Orchard School, received several offers but chose the Dustdevils, an NCAA Division II school, because of the full scholarship.

    “We are all very excited to sign a player of Kiara’s caliber,” head coach Rudy Gonzalez said. “It’s a major plus when can get one of the top golfers in a country. She has a tremendous skill set, is an excellent student, and is a great person overall. We look forward to her development and success and we are proud to call her a Dustdevil.”

    Kiara’s journey would have not been possible without the support of her mother, who until two years ago worked as a bank executive for BDO.

    Aside from raising funds for Kiara’s tournament exposure, Ethel served as her bedrock when things weren’t falling into place.

    Kiara, now 18 years old, said she’s excited to enter a new chapter in her life – without her mother at her side.

    Ethel, a single parent, said she was ready to let go of her only child.

    “My mind is set. I want her to follow her dreams. I am always here for her anytime if she needs me,” she said.

    Ethel said there’s no doubt that Kiara will have a successful life.

    “Her deep faith and personal relationship with God is also a plus,” she said. “I just have to manage my emotions because I will definitely miss her big time.”

    As Kiara prepares to embark on this new journey, she carries with her not only the skills and determination honed over years of dedication but also the unwavering support of her mother.

    Both mother and daughter face this transition with optimism, faith, and confidence that Kiara’s future holds great promise. (courtesy of golf pinoy dotcom)

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