Thursday's Conversation With San José State’s Regan De Guzman

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Welcome to Thursday’s Conversation. Each week, one Mountain West student-athlete will be featured by answering a series of questions.

Joining the conversation this week is San José State’s Regan De Guzman. The junior from Quezon City, Philippines, is a member of the Spartans women’s golf team. De Guzman was a first-team All-MW selection in 2013-14 and was the WAC Freshman of the Year and All-WAC honoree in 2012-13.

De Guzman recorded a fourth-place finish at the 2014 Mountain West Women’s Golf Championship, helping guide the Spartans to a second-place showing in the team standings, just one stroke behind champion New Mexico.

The 2015 MW Women’s Golf Championship will take place April 20-22 in Rancho Mirage, California, on the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills Country Club.

Question: The 2015 Mountain West Women’s Golf Championship is a couple of weeks away. How are you feeling about your game heading into the tournament?

Answer: Right now I’m physically better than I was last year but my mental game isn’t as sharp, so I’ve been working on that.

Q: You finished fourth at last year’s championship. Is another top-five finish something you’re looking to achieve? What about the team, any specific goals in mind after last year’s second-place showing?

A: Coach wants all of us on the team to believe that we can win. Last year we were really close. I did well as an individual last year and I’d love to win or finish second this year, but winning as a team is the biggest thing.

Q: You’ve not only played in an NCAA Championship, but you held the lead after the first round of the 2013 tournament thanks to a five-under-par round of 67. Are you anxious to get back and compete on that stage?

A: I’m not anxious about it, but I’d love to be able to do that again. My freshman year, everything I did was unexpected. I really didn’t know anything, outside of that I knew I could compete with the girls I was playing against. All I did was go out and play golf. That’s when I’m at my best when I’m just focused on playing.

Q: You have played in a lot of international events. How did those experiences help you prepare for what you’d face when you started playing collegiate golf?

A: It helped me a lot. I played with very good players and I would get really nervous playing with them, until they started to hit some shots. Then, it became a competition; if they can hit a shot close to the hole, I can hit it just as close or closer. The more I played in those events, the more confidence I gained in my own abilities. Playing in Asia, I learned so much because Asian golfers are really creative and will try a lot of different things on the golf course. I would watch these things and then apply that to my game. I definitely carried that over with me when I started playing college golf.

Q: You were one of the top junior golfers in the Philippines. What was it about America that made you want to leave your home country?

A: When I was very young I was a competitive gymnast, from the age of 2 to 10. I felt like I was losing my childhood, spending a lot of time at the gym when I was supposed to be playing with my friends. I told my parents I wanted to stop doing gymnastics because I wasn’t enjoying it. My grandfather, dad and mom all used to play golf and I was curious about the sport. I fell in love with it and told my mom that I wanted to play in America. She said it was expensive and that I’d need to get an athletic scholarship. Getting that scholarship became my mission and I accomplished it.

When I was being recruited, I was asked why I didn’t just turn pro and I said that I really wanted a degree. So, as much as coming to America was about golf, it was also about getting a good education because I want to have a “Plan B” and prove to everyone that I’m more than just an athlete.

Q: Even though you had this vision of coming to the United States and playing golf, how difficult was it leaving your friends and family back home?

A: It was difficult, but I knew that I had to go and make America my new home. I told my family I’d be coming back, but only for vacation. I needed to grow and explore as a person. (The move) was kind of like soul-searching for me.

Q: Have you had a chance to visit your family or your family to come to America and see you since you moved here?

A: My freshman year I went (to the Philippines) for winter break and then I came back (to the Philippines) over the summer for tournaments, too. I flew back in September of 2013 when my father passed away. I was there for a week and it was really hard to go back to golf, but my coaches and teammates really helped me. We play four tournaments in the fall and I missed all but the last one. I played that last tournament at Stanford and shot 2-under, 1-under and 5-over. For having not played really at all leading up to the tournament, I did pretty well. That gave me the motivation to get back out there and compete.

Q: You’re majoring in communications. What do you like the most about your major?

A: I used to have trouble speaking in public. I would get really nervous anytime someone wanted to interview me. Now, because of the classes I’ve been taking, I’m more confident in my speaking and talking abilities. It’s really helped me a lot and I’ve gained confidence in myself.

Q: You bio says you enjoy playing the guitar and piano. Have you always been into music, and more specifically, playing music?

A: I used to be a music major. I studied music back home and have loved music ever since I was young. I had a band four years ago and I wrote my own songs. Music is a huge part of me.

Q: What types of music do you listen to and what styles of music do you like to play?

A: Mostly rock. Indie rock, I’m not going to go metal, there’s no way. I also listen to a little bit of classical, because of my university studies. I also like reggae.

Do you have a student-athlete you’d like to see featured in an upcoming Thursday's Conversation? Contact Dan Johnson at djohnson@TheMW.com