Giovanni Tadiotto leads field at Junior Orange Bowl International Golf Championship as childhood lessons pay off

Giovanni Tadiotto takes a full iron swing Sunday the Biltmore Golf Club in Coral Gables.
Giovanni Tadiotto takes a full iron swing Sunday the Biltmore Golf Club in Coral Gables. Special to the Miami Herald

Giulio Tadiotto is a well-respected teaching golf professional back home in Belgium. When it comes to golf, he knows what he’s doing.

Maybe too much so.

Giulio has been instructing his son, Giovanni, since the kid was 1-year-old.

Now, Giovanni is 16, and guess who is beating Dad in golf.

Yes, apparently the teacher taught too well.

“Yes, if we play against each other,” young Giovanni said, “I give him strokes.” Dad listened to that comment and just shook his head, somewhat dejectedly but with a smile of submission.

“I got him his first club when he was 1,” Giulio said. “It wasn’t plastic, it was a regular club. A wood.”

If nothing else, Dad knows the lessons he gave his son have paid off.

Giovanni has been proving that in the Junior Orange Bowl International Golf Championship at the Biltmore Golf Club in Coral Gables. At the midway point, after two rounds, Giovanni has a two-shot lead with rounds of 4-under-par 67 and a 69 for a 6-under 136 total.

Three players are tied for second at 138 — Canada’s Tony Gil (72-66, including a spectacular 30 on the front nine Sunday), Argentina’s Matias Lezcano (70-68) and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann (67-71).

In the girls’ competition, Linnea Strom of Sweden, who held the first-day lead by herself, fell into a tie with Maria Hoyos of Colombia. Strom shot a 2-over 73 Sunday, and Hoyos recorded a one-over 73.

Giovanni said there are about 80 courses in Belgium. “Some are good, but also some are not-so-good,” he said. Asked about Biltmore, he said, “It would fall into the good ones.”

If he should go on to win the Junior Orange Bowl, he said it would be “the biggest victory” of his golf career. At the same time, he readily admitted, “I don’t really remember what I did when I was 1.”

His father knows well of Giovanni’s passion for golf. “We have a very nice picture of him with his first set of clubs,” Giulio said.

As a youngster, nothing would stop Giovanni from making his way to the course and the driving range. “He would have to go through the parking lot to get to the course and cars would be going by him, but he didn’t care — he wanted to play golf,” said his father.

“He always said he wanted to be a professional golfer, and he has never changed his mind,” Giulio added. That included giving up soccer a few years back in order to concentrate on golf.

Giovanni has a year and a half of high school left in Belgium, and after that he definitely plans to go to college in the U.S. and hone his golf game.

As for the first time he beat his dad in a full round, Giovanni said, “I was really happy. In my family, nobody lets you win to make you happy.”

However, there was a particular somebody who couldn’t help but feel some joy over that milestone of Giovanni beating his father.

“Actually, I enjoyed it when he first beat me,” admitted Giulio. “He made me proud.”