Men’s golf added two new freshmen to their squad for this fall, both originally from Argentina. Diego Prone and Vicente Marzilio lived about a 30-minute drive apart in the cities of Buenos Aires and Don Torcuato, and knew each other before coming to North Texas.
While growing up in Argentina, Prone and Marzilio said they practiced together at times and competed against each other in several tournaments. Despite playing in many of the same events and being the same age, Marzilio said the two were never placed in the same group for a tournament.
“We played in a lot of the same tournaments together because we are, of course, the same age and we lived […] like 30 minutes away from each other,” Marzilio said. “We didn’t even realize it, but we never played in the same group together in Argentina. Here, we have already played [together] a thousand times I think.”
Although the two golfers did know each other before coming to North Texas, head coach Brad Stracke said it was mostly coincidental that the two Argentinians were paired together and they were simply two talented golfers in the 2020 class.
“It just happened to work itself out this way that we had two really good players from Argentina,” Stracke said. “Usually it’s been about 50 percent guys from Texas and 50 percent internationals, but the last two years it’s been swayed a little more towards internationals.”
Prone and Marzilio took different paths to arrive at North Texas despite their shared background, with Prone leaving for the United States a year sooner to attend IMG Academy in Florida for his senior year of high school.
“I decided it was best for me to come [to the United States] to play golf and study,” Prone said. “I went to IMG Academy […] because I wanted to improve my English and also play some tournaments in the U.S. before college.”
Like many athletes across the world, Prone’s senior season at IMG was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. He placed in the top 10 in his last three events of the season, including a third-place finish in the IMG Academy Junior World Championships Florida Challenge.
Marzilio, on the other hand, went straight from Argentina to North Texas and faced several obstacles along the way. With issues like obtaining a transcript from his high school, which was closed due to COVID-19, as well as receiving a visa — Marzilio was unsure whether he would be able to come to the U.S. at all.
“To get my visa was a little bit difficult at first because I couldn’t get an appointment at the embassy,” Marzilio said. “To be honest, 15 days before traveling [to the U.S.], I didn’t know that I could be here. Those last 14 days I got an emergency appointment to get my visa and I got my flat right away after knowing that I could go to the embassy, so it was really fast.”
Marzilio finished in the top 10 in eight of the 10 tournaments he played from August 2019 to January 2020. That stretch included seven top-five finishes and a tournament win at the Abierto de la Ciudad de Rosario, a tournament played last August in Argentina.
Stracke said both golfers’ high-level performances stuck out to him during the recruiting process and were a big part of what convinced him to sign the players.
“When we were recruiting [Vicente], I think he finished in the top 5 in eight out of ten events and he won a couple of those,” Stracke said. “Diego was playing really good in Florida … and he’s put up some great numbers in tournaments as well. Both of them performed at a high level and it was a pretty easy decision when you see their results.”
Prone said it has been helpful to have another player from his home country in Marzilio, someone he can speak Spanish with and who shares his culture. Marzilio said Prone is like a brother to him, a bond which he said benefits them both in several ways.
“It’s like having a brother here,” Marzilio said. “Having someone from my country, it’s really helpful to keep on track […] and push each other to be good in everything we can. It’s been really funny because before coming here we knew each other and [now] we’re experiencing the same things together.”
Courtesy North Texas Athletics