He made the last putt of the day, signed his card, posed with his winnings check, responded to journalists’ questions, ate something, got in his car and drove back to Málaga to put on a white coat and do fillings, fit some implants and dentures and extract some rebellious molars. José Luis Gross, winner at the Marbella Golf and Country Club in the third tournament of the Gecko Tour, proved today that dreams really can become reality.
Gross signed up for a tournament defined by intense rain that started in the last hours in completing the 36 holes, which is why it had to be reduced to one round…and thanks. The brave work done by the employees of the Marbella course made it possible to drain the greens and the bunkers so that they could at least finish out the tournament.
Gross, born and raised in Málaga who is able to balance his profession as an odontologist with his passion for golf, conquered the tournament with an extraordinary round. He shot a 67 in extremely complicated conditions, taking home the win with none other than a three-shot advantage over the Norwegian golfer Anders Kristiansen and English golfer Clarke Lutton, and four over a group of eight players among which was Chilean golfer Mark Tullo, winner of Challenge Tour tournaments. You can imagine how proud and happy the champion was.
Gross’s story is an encouraging one. It’s proof that dreams, if you believe in them enough and fight for them, really can become reality. Since he has a kid he was hooked on golf and he managed to reach a really high level. When he was 19 his handicap was 0.6, coinciding in his training with other big-name golfers from Málaga such as Pablo Martín Benavidas, Azahara Muñoz and Gonzalo Gancedo, just to name a few. However, the time came to make a decision. “I wasn’t studying enough nor practicing golf enough to be a professional and it was impossible to combine both things in Málaga. So I decided I was going to study. I hung my clubs up and stopped playing for twelve years. Five years ago I started again, and I got hooked again and decided that if I reached a handicap of +1 I was going to go pro. I did it and I went pro a year and a half ago. My family didn’t really take it seriously and thought I was not going to be able to do it. Every time I would say I was going to go to work playing golf, people would laugh. Everyone but my son César, who is five years old and always tells me that I’m the best and that I’m going to win. He’s the biggest motivation I have”, he laughs.
At 37 years old, José Luis made some of the most popular Spanish sayings true in just one day: if at first you don’t succeed try, try again and better late than never. But the truth is that he always thought he could win. He knew something like that could happen. “In the whatsapp group we have with the family and some friends I had already said a few days ago that I was going to win in the Gecko before 2017. And here it is. I’m so happy. I’ve always thought that if you truly set your mind to something you can achieve it. But you have to be convinced. Where there’s a will there’s a way” he remarked.
Gross’s dream doesn’t end here, not even close. The win in the Gecko is just one more step forward. Now he’ll play in the Alps Tour Golf and on the horizon is the Senior Tour as the grand finale to top it all off. “I think it would be a really special thing for when I turn 50. I really want to do it and I’m going to go for it. I wouldn’t have won in the Gecko if I hadn’t decided to go after it. I know it’s not going to be easy. It’s hard because everyone here plays really well, but I’m going to try. I even signed up for pilates to improve my physical condition”, he jokes.
Gross won the tournament with conviction, although if he had to choose a key moment, he has it clear that it would be the 7th hole (he ended on the 9th). “I missed off the tee with the 5 iron, after I hit another 5 iron and I almost hit it in some bushes and from a hill I made a miraculous approach and putt. There is where I saw I could win and I even started thinking about what I would say when the journalists interviewed me…I stopped and said to myself, José Luis, let’s go, this isn’t over yet.” Now it is. He can say it loud and clear. Dreams really do become reality.
The next event of the Gecko Tour is next Thursday and Friday on the La Quinta Golf Club course in Marbella.