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.
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.
“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”
Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).
Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.
Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace).
“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”
Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi
What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.
Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.
McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.
He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.
McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65).
Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds.
“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder
Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.
Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.
Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:
Filling in tomorrow for Corey Pavin that WD today @cbgolfchallenge I do things like this a lot to help events and asking for sponsors exemptions here but didn't get any help.— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) January 18, 2018
Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.
Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.
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.