Bakersfield Open filled with big golfing dreams on mini tour

Local products Manav Shah & Matt Picanso competing
Posted at 12:51 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 20:42:37-05

To make it as a professional golfer, you've got to go low. "You gotta average about six under a day," said Stockdale graduate Matt Picanso. Trouble is most guys, even on small tours like the Golden State, are putting up those numbers. "The talent pool is deep," said the tour's executive director Michael O'Leary. "It's really deep. 

Half the battle is grinding it out. "Even when you don't think you can win, every birdie passes a guy," Picanso said. 

One of those guys is a familiar face. Manav Shah graduated from Centennial before playing four years at UCLA and turning professional in 2015. He earned his status on the Canadian Tour and even broke the tour's 36 scoring record.

He already has some lofty goals. "Ultimate goal is to win major championships," Shah told 23ABC at Tuesday's Pro-Am. To get there he first has to work his way through tours like this before one day reaching the PGA. 

He's doing all he can to get there. A 6:00 AM work out is followed by 18 holes, a quick lunch, another workout and then another 18 holes. 

But Shah isn't the only local product chasing the dream. After playing at Bakersfield College, Picanso moved to San Diego to develop his game and has taken competition where he can find it. "Golden State, Pepsi Tour, E Golf Tour. There's the Adams Tour in Texas," he said.

All of that travel and that grind to make a couple hundred bucks a week playing golf, it can start to take its toll. "Our finances aren't obviously what some of the guys on the higher level are," Picanso said. "So that part can be tough."

But for guys like Matt and Manav, toiling on the mini tours will just making it big that much sweeter. "It'll help me appreciate it a little more than I would if I just woke up and walked right on," Shah said. 


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