The Golden Boy
At four or five years old, Daniel da Costa Rodrigues was already taking his first shots. It was at City Golf of Porto, half a dozen steps from his home, that his passion for golf was born, and grew.
“It was there to try. To see what it was like. And I liked it. So much so that I stayed with it,” recalls Daniel da Costa Rodrigues to GOLFE, explaining that at the time I was looking for a sport to play and found it.
“It’s the ideal sport for me. It has discipline, excitement, is challenging, and very, very rewarding,” summarizes Dani, as he is known in national golf, saying that the most important thing is to have fun with the game. “Of course winning is important, but you have to have fun,” says the winner, in February this year, of the 89th International Amateur Championship of Portugal.
Since then, in a remarkable year at all levels, Dani, just 16, has scored major triumphs and international highlights. In Portugal, he won the Absolute National Championship, became national under-18 champion and won the Miramar Junior Open. Along the way, he made the cut at the Portugal Open (Challenge Tour) and narrowly missed the weekend at the Portugal Masters (European Tour). Additionally, he helped Miramar win the national championship.
At the international leval, Dani also shone. He was third at the Orlando International Amateur for Juniors and at the Madrid Abierto Championship, sixth at the German Boys and ninth at the R&A Boys Amateur Championship, being elected the European Continental Team MVP that beat Britain and Ireland in The Jacques Leglise Trophy. The national number 1 closed the year at 77th on the amateur world ranking, and wants more. “The goal is to be number 1 in the world and then be number 1 as a pro. The thought has to be this. Always thinking ahead, higher,” he says, recalling the steps he took leading up to this year.
After City Golf, which has a Pitch & Putt course which was instrumental in the development of his short game, Daniel Rodrigues moved to Miramar. “I was 12 years old and I felt I had to go a step further,” explaining the move
to one of the major national club golf schools. It was there that he met coach Sergio Ribeiro, who- “has contributed a lot to the growth of my game” - and he began to be notice in national golf.
The first call to the national team came quickly, and Dani is already a key presence on the Portuguese team. “It’s been a very good year. My presence on the Portugal team, winning the International of Portugal and being the Jacques Leglise MVP. It has been going really well,” he admits.
So much so that he is already thinking of the future. The student with an average of 16 in the Valadares Secondary School Economics course is preparing to move to the United States at the end of the school year. Destination? Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. “I have a golf scholarship and I’m going to study sports economics and management,” he says. The idea is to make the most of it by playing on the competitive US college circuit. In Portugal, he explains, it is difficult to reconcile golf with studies. The weekly routine is demanding. Monday is devoted exclusively to school, and the rest of the week is divided between the high school classrooms of Dr. Joaquim G. Ferreira Alves and the Miramar course. “In a normal week, I’m in school in the morning, and in the afternoon I’m going to train.” In the United States, it will be easier. “I don’t want to stop studying before I finish my higher education”, Dani justifies.
Until then, Dani, who was the first in his family to play -now his two younger brothers, twins Afonso and Ana, also play - will remain focused on his goals. “Golf gives me a lot of discipline, so I can manage my time well. Study, train and have fun.”