Tryon Makes the Big Time
William Augustus Tryon IV ' Ty ' shot 66 on the final day of the Qualifying Tournament to slide in by two strokes. What was unimaginable as little as a month ago now has become believable. He did it, going through three qualifiers, passing every one, and now look whats happened. What ' or who - is going to stop this kid, anyway?
Well, this same things been done before. Fifteen-year-old Bernhard Langer turned pro in Germany back in 1972. But Langer didnt have much choice. He was from a poor family, school wasnt much of an option, and Germany only had a handful of professionals. Even Bernhard didnt get his European Tour card until the age of 19. This Tryon kid made his first cut at a PGA Tour event when he was 16, at the Honda Classic this year. And the PGA Tour is certainly tougher to crack than the European Tour.
Tyron is a junior at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla. I wonder what the reaction has been from his teachers. Three stages of Q-School have cost him nearly three weeks in absences all ready. I cant imagine the faculty being cooperative as he progressed though first one stage and another ' and another. Ty had a book report on To Kill a Mockingbird due shortly after the final stage when he dazzled in the final round. I havent much time to read, Ty confessed, leading to speculation that the book report may slide a little.
If Tryon hits the jackpot on the Tour, of course, the world will little note the book report. That reminds of a conversation I once had with Moses Malone, who leaped right from high school to a million-dollar contract in professional basketball.
Mo, I asked, did you ever receive your high school diploma?
No, he replied. And no one has ever asked for it.
Meaning, of course, that basketball players arent normally asked for diplomas as they are about to enter the professional draft. Neither, for that matter, are golfers who enter the professional Qualifying Tournament. Tryon certainly is bright enough to matriculate from Dr. Phillips ' if he gets enough days in. The nagging question, though, is ' so what? Normally, about the most important thing a kid does is get at least a high school education. With Tryon, that is becoming less and less important.
He already has million-dollar contracts with Callaway Golf and Target Stores. The reason for the Callaway contract is fairly obvious. And the Target contract is to promote a line of Mossimo clothing.
Two million-dollar contracts while a kid is still in high school? Well, that just follows a trend Tryon set. He has a personal trainer. He has a sports psychologist. He, of course, has an instructor ' David Leadbetter, who worked wonders with Nick Faldo 15 years ago. And he has a mega-corporation to sort out the business deals ' Mark McCormacks IMG.
Oh ' did I mention that he is just 17? I did? Did I mention how many high school kids have such a cozy little business arrangement at 17?
One thing is certain, though. He is mature for 17 years old. He deals well with the adults. He deals well with the press. He seems totally unfazed by the golf phenomena, participating in pro tournaments and qualifiers like they were just another Saturday morning hit-and-giggle session.
Tryon will not have the chance to earn a paycheck that counts until June. That is because of a rule that he cannot become a PGA Tour member until he has reached his 18th birthday ' a rule, incidentally, that was rushed through the Tour in September of this year. No one ever dreamed that someone younger than 18 could actually make it through Q-School. As a caddie, maybe; as a player ' no.
Its that rule, though, that probably ensures him staying in class, at least this year. If his paychecks dont count on the PGA Tour, whats really the point? Might as well dabble in a few books until you have to make a decision ' which is next year during his senior season, by the way.
Tryon even has a website all his own ' www.tytryon.com. On it, we find such interesting tidbits that his father wasnt surprised that Ty made the field as a Monday qualifier at the Honda Classic ' Ty has attempted 16 such Monday qualifiers since the age of 13. Dad owns a mortgage business in Orlando. Dad, a 2-handicapper himself, rigged a net in the garage and gave 3-year-old Ty a plastic club. And Ty developed into a very respectable junior golfer.
Of course, the PGA Tour is light years away from junior golf. But Tryon has qualified for six rounds, in the finals, against a group of tour veterans. He did better than Blaine McCallister, Robert Gamez, Tommy Tolles, Ted Tryba, Jim McGovern, Nolan Henke and Gary Hallberg, to name a few.
A wise old bear named Jack Nicklaus could hardly believe the orbs when he saw Tryon while following son Gary at Q-School. Obviously, its pretty phenomenal for a young man, said Nicklaus. Jack, admittedly, never was one to go overboard on a new prospect.
Its quite possible, though, that like the rest of us, he couldnt really believe that what was happening ' was actually happening. Neither, it is suspected, could Tryon.
I just feel so relieved, he said after it was over. I dont know how to feel yet.
Then he used the word that has become a mantra for those who have yet to reach full manhood. Wow, he said simply.
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.