Recent news item: MEXICO CITY--Vince Castillo of the United States beat Spain's Seve Ballesteros in a head-to-head battle for the victory in an International Tournament Players Assn. tournament at Mexico City. Castillo birdied the first hole, shot a 66 and never allowed the former Masters and British Open champion to catch him. This is the same Vince Castillo who grew up in Montebello, learned his golf under Jimmy Thompson at the Montebello municipal course, and has been head professional and director of golf at the Azusa Greens Golf Club for the last seven months.
Castillo, 27, plays most of his competitive golf on the Mexico-Spain-Portugal segment of the International TPA and has eight wins in six years on the Latin circuit. He won the $40,000 Mexicali Open earlier in the season to go with his win over Ballesteros at the Club de Golf in Mexico City.
Despite his international success, Castillo does not plan to try for a PGA Tour card.
"I have a wife and two daughters, and with a family it's tough to play the regular tour," the West Covina resident said. "I have fun on the international tour. I've been playing about 15 tournaments a year, and that's enough."
When Castillo was a junior golfer, he was overshadowed by John Cook, John Cummings and Jack Renner, but later, after turning 20, he decided he was ready to try the tour. He failed to qualify.
"I was at that age where I thought I could beat anybody in the world," he said. "I wasn't ready mentally. I found out when I got down to Florida for the finals that there were a couple of hundred potential world-beaters, and it turned out that I wasn't one of them. I came home and got a job as an apprentice electrician."
Castillo will test his skills locally in the California Open Aug. 12-15 at Mission Hills and La Quinta Hotel, and in the $65,000 Queen Mary Open Aug. 21-25 at Lakewood. He has done well in Southern California tournaments, having won two Peter Long mini-tour events and four National Golf Assn. tournaments, one at La Costa.
In beating Ballesteros at Mexico City, Castillo won $18,000 of a $110,000 purse.
"It was quite a thrill, playing on the final day with Ballesteros," Castillo said. "It was the week before the World Cup started, so Mexico City was full of tourists, and it looked like most of them came out to watch Ballesteros. The gallery was huge."
Castillo shot 73-64-66--203, beating the Spaniard by two strokes.
"I went 33-40 the first day and after the round I worked 3 1/2 hours on the range trying to get my rhythm back," he said. "I started off the next day birdie-birdie-eagle."
Going into the final round, Castillo and Ballesteros were tied for the lead at 137, seven under par.
"I birdied the first hole and Seve had to scramble for his par. That gave me a lift. He played a great round but couldn't seem to get the ball close enough to make birdies, but I have never seen such an elite striker of the ball. I've seen Nicklaus and Miller and Watson and a lot of guys, but I've never seen anyone hit the ball as pure as Ballesteros."
Since then, Ballesteros has won the British Masters, Irish, French and Monte Carlo opens and played in the U.S. Open. Castillo has been busy giving 30 to 35 lessons a week and keeping players moving at Johnny Johnson's Azusa Greens course.
"I don't mind," Castillo said. "This way, I get home every night with my family. That's important to me."
Golf Notes The 13th annual SoCal senior women's tournament will be played Wednesday and Thursday at Rainbow Canyon GC in Temecula. Millie Stanley of Wilshire is the defending champion. . . . Helen Knight won her 29th consecutive club championship at El Caballero CC. Carol Bruce was runner-up. . . . Mesa Verde CC has a date, March 12-15, on the 1987 LPGA schedule, but the tournament lacks a sponsor since Uniden has decided not to return. The club has until July 31 to come up with a sponsor to retain its dates, according to Finley Taylor, Mesa Verde president. . . . The $200,000 Kyocera Inamori LPGA event will be played April 9-12 at Bernardo Heights CC in Rancho Bernardo. . . . Group Fore, the women's mini-tour, will play a pro-am next Sunday at Rio Bravo Resort in Bakersfield, followed by the 54-hole ALA Classic. The following week the women will play the Rose of August tournament at San Bernardino GC.