A couple of hours after tournament host Arnold Palmer made his exit, Ty Tryon made his entrance.
Tryon is playing on a sponsors exemption this week, given to him by Palmer. Its one of seven hes allowed before his 18th birthday on June 2. But while the 72-year-old Palmer offered the 17-year-old Tryon an invite into his tournament, it doesnt mean he approves of the path the high school junior is taking.
I turned pro when I was 25 and it certainly didnt hinder my life to wait until then, said Palmer, who served in the military for three years.
Tryon turned professional last year, after making the cut in a couple of PGA Tour events as an amateur.
Palmer wouldnt provide his unobstructed opinion on Tryons decision, but said he wouldnt advise his 14-year-old grandson ' who, at six-feet tall and 180lbs, crushes the ball and shoots in the 60s and 70s ' to take go the same route.
My grandson (Sam) will complete high school starting this coming year, and if everything goes well, and he keeps his nose clean, hell go to Wake Forest University (Palmers alma mater), play four years and graduate. And then, if hes a good enough player, he might play on the tour, and thats my direction for him.
Palmer said he wouldnt dictate his grandsons life, and would allow him to turn professional early, if he so desired. But, the 60-time tour winner noted, life is short, and there are a lot of things that you need to know other than golf.
Palmer and Tryon have met on several occassions - if not to talk about the road less traveled. Both are sponsored by Callaway Golf, and have shot a commercial together.
It was amazing, Tryon said. He was just telling me and Charles (Howell) and (Nick) Dougherty about the 50s, 60s, 70s - how the tour, it was a loose branch of tournaments and how they got them organized and stuff. It was pretty neat.
Tryon is competing in his fourth event of the season, having missed the cut in his previous three starts.
I havent had the success that I would like to have, he said. I know its a long year and Im going to have a few bad tournaments and a few missed cuts. Im just trying to get better and play better each week.
Phoenix, I didnt play well. But then, Doral, I played better and Honda I played better. And so its improving. I guess, (I'm) still getting settled.
The Orlando resident should feel comfortable this week, having played the course since he was 11. However, there are some new wrinkles ' and not just the course changes.
Its the first time Ive ever been in the locker room here because you have to be 18, he laughingly pointed out.
As for schooling, Tryon hasnt been to class in three weeks; though, he is traveling with a tutor.
It complicates it when youre not present at school, but I find its worth the trouble being out here, for sure, he said.
Tryons next event will be the BellSouth Classis in three weeks. Hes also considering the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open, May 17-20 in Germany, where Tiger Woods and John Daly have already committed to play.
I thought I had a schedule planned out, but I dont really know anymore. Things have kind of changed, he said.
Tryons popularity has soared since earning his 02 playing privilege through the Qualifying Tournament. Wednesday, he launched his new website, www.TyTryon.com.
His profile continues to rise. And, just as the golf world has taken notice of his immense potential, so, too, have the girls.
Maybe. A little bit, he said with a smile.