Ty Tryon's Spring Break
Tasting Tour Life
Sixteen-year-old Ty Tryon showed more than just a cool hand when
he finished 39th at the recent Honda Classic. He also offered a
glimpse into the future of pro golf.
The day after the Honda, at which he shot 10 under par, Tryon
joined the other members of Orlando's Lake Highland Prep team for
a spring-break trip to Southern California. Arranged by assistant
coach John Cook, a 10-time Tour winner whose son, Jason, is a
freshman on the team, the jaunt was like Tour Life 101. The team,
along with squads from Southern California schools, played four
courses, visited a golf-apparel company, lounged on Manhattan
Beach (a three-wood from Tiger Woods's Left Coast abode), were
studio guests of the Jim Rome talk show and took in an NBA game.
The trip was like a touring pro's off week, which was no
coincidence. Some of Lake Highland's best players attend David
Leadbetter's golf academy in Bradenton, Fla., which is geared to
produce pros. Leadbetter, whose son, Andy, is a sophomore on the
team but didn't make the trip, instructs Lake Highland senior
Christo Greyling, the No. 1-ranked junior in the U.S. (Greyling
also qualified for a Tour event, the 2000 Buick Challenge) and
oversees the instruction of Tryon, the No. 5 junior. The team
plays home matches at Isleworth and Lake Nona, Orlando courses at
which dozens of pros practice. No one was surprised last year
when Lake Highland's low four scores in one 18-hole match totaled
a state record 17-under 271.
"These kids are advanced," says Cook, who attended most of the
team's matches last fall and was a stroke behind Tryon at the
Honda. "High school golf used to be one or two guys who could
play a little and a bunch of kids trying to break 45 for nine
Consider Tryon's routine. He attends class from 8 a.m. to 1:30
p.m., then devotes most afternoons to golf. Either he goes to
Leadbetter's learning center at Champions Gate to practice with
his coach, Kevin Smeltz, or he works at Keene's Point, where he
gets an hourly wage and playing privileges in exchange for
cleaning carts and picking up on the range. He does schoolwork
from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Golf has been William Augustus Tryon IV's path since he was
nicknamed Ty by his father, Bill, after Chevy Chase's Ty Webb
character in Caddyshack. Bill, who owns a mortgage lending
company, took his son to Leadbetter at age seven. Three years
later he took Ty to the Candyman Gym in Orlando for boxing
lessons from former WBC heavyweight champion Pinklon Thomas. "It
taught Ty to take a blow and deliver a blow, physically and
mentally," says his father.
Leadbetter sees a youth movement in the future of the U.S. tours.
"We are going to see kids who are ready to go on Tour when
they're 16 or 17, and they're going to skip college," he says.
Leadbetter wasn't speaking specifically about Tryon's intentions,
although Tryon's old e-mail address, Proquick, might be a
Bill Tryon intends to follow the example set by his own father, a
three-sport star at Princeton. "My dad never pushed in sports,
and I grew to love them on my own," he says. "Ty plays golf for
himself. As for the future, we're taking it day by day."
COLOR PHOTO: J.D. CUBAN Christo (black visor), Ty (putting) and their teammates were pampered like pros, which they hope to become.
COLOR PHOTO: JAY LAPRETE
COLOR PHOTO: MONTANA PRITCHARD/PGA OF AMERICA
COLOR PHOTO: OSCAR SOSA
B/W PHOTO: VERNON BARCHARD/TAMPA TIMES
JAIME'S TOP 10
Teen prodigies like Ty Tryon have always fascinated golf fans.
Many of the wunderkinder never lived up to expectations, while
others got better with age. My list of alltime-best boy wonders
reflects the vagary of golfing stardom at an early age.
1. Bobby Jones
The junior champion at the Atlanta Athletic Club when he was
nine, Jones broke 80 when he was 11 and won the Georgia Amateur
and two matches in the U.S. Amateur at 14. At 15 he took the
Southern Amateur and at 17 was second in the Canadian Open and
the U.S. Amateur.
2. Sergio Garcia
At 12 he broke 70, and at 14 he made the cut in his first
European tour event, the '95 Turespana Open. He won the European
Amateur at 15 and was 17 when he took 19 amateur events and the
3. Tiger Woods
He won Optimist International age-group titles at 8, 9, 12, 13,
14 and 15, and three straight U.S. Juniors, becoming the
youngest winner, at 15. He was also the youngest U.S. Amateur
winner, taking the first of three consecutive titles at 18.
4. Young Tom Morris
He won a tournament against leading pros when he was 13 and the
British Open at 18, 19 and 20 (by 12 strokes). There was no Open
in 1871, so his victory in '72 was his fourth straight. Morris
died on Christmas Day, 1875, at 25.
6. Eddie Pearce
The original Next Nicklaus, Pearce (above) gained a rep for
winning money games against Tour players as a teenager. He took
the 1968 U.S. Junior at 16 and was a finalist the next year. His
career headed south after he four-putted to lose the '71 U.S.
Amateur. He never won a Tour event.
5. Gary Koch
Driven by his rivalry with Pearce, Koch won three straight
Florida junior titles and at 16 the '69 Florida Open. The
following year Koch took the U.S. Junior and won a U.S. Open
qualifier by 11 shots. He's had six victories on Tour.
7. Jack Nicklaus
He dominated Ohio junior events and at 16 won the state's Open.
When he was 18, Nicklaus finished 15th in his Tour debut, the
'58 Rubber City Open.
8. Phil Mickelson
He won 34 junior titles in San Diego and 12 more on the American
Junior Golf Association tour, where he was player of the year
three seasons in a row.
9. Doug Clarke
California's Pearce, Clarke was taught by Paul Runyan and played
money games against Gene Littler and Craig Stadler. Second in
the '76 U.S. Junior, at 17, Clarke won the '76 Trans-Miss and
was a second-team All-America at Stanford. He fell victim to
substance abuse, never played on Tour and is now a teaching pro.
10. Bob Rosburg
At five he was demonstrating his golfing prowess on vaudeville
stages as the opening act for Richard Byrd, the polar explorer.
Rosburg won every title of note around San Francisco, but after
losing in the finals of the California State Amateur in 1944,
'45 and '48, he gave up the game for three years. He won six
Tour events, including the 1959 PGA Championship.
Tour commissioner Tim Finchem wants to move the Players
Championship to May by 2003. Always overshadowed by the Final
Four and, even with its massive purse, viewed as just another
stop on the Florida swing, the Tour's pet tournament has lost its
pizzazz. Moving to May--the only month from April to August
without a major--would put the event in the heart of the batting
order and end the notion that it's a Masters tune-up.
What do these players have in common?
They're the only players to win consecutive starts in 2001.
Durant took the Hope and Doral, Nelson the MasterCard and the
Royal Caribbean, and Sorenstam the Welch's/Circle K and the
Standard Register Ping.
Is the injury to Tiger Woods's left knee affecting his
--Based on 2,564 responses to our informal survey
Next question: What's most responsible for the record-breaking
scores this year: better conditions, better players or better
equipment? Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
Synonyms for: Iron shot from the rough that comes out hot
Call the coroner, come down, dead, flyer, four seamer, full
flaps, jailbait, jumper, Mayday, outahere, we have lift off.
Last year the 17th at the TPC at Sawgrass--the island-green
hole--played to an average score of 3.303, the second-highest
average for that hole in the 24 Players Championships at
Sawgrass. These were the Tour's toughest par-3s in 2000.
EVENT COURSE HOLE AVG.
U.S. Open Pebble Beach 17 3.435
Hope PGA West 5 3.405
U.S. Open Pebble Beach 5 3.380
U.S. Open Pebble Beach 12 3.357
Players Sawgrass 17 3.303
Mollie Funkhauser, Dublin, Ohio
Funkhauser, a sophomore at Ohio State, won her second tournament
of the season, the Midwest Classic, at the Hyatt Bear Creek Golf
Course in Dallas, by four shots. Funkhauser, whose 74.30 scoring
average is the best on the Buckeyes, has finished out of the top
five only once in her last six tournaments.
Tim Thelen, Richmond, Texas
Thelen, 39, the head pro at Baywood Country Club in Pasadena,
prevailed at the South Texas PGA Match Play, beating Matt
Trevino, an assistant at San Antonio Country Club, one up in the
final. A former teammate of Colin Montgomerie's at Houston
Baptist, Thelen is the reigning PGA National Club Pro champion.
David Bennett, Stowe, Vt.
Bennett, a senior at North Florida, successfully defended his
title at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate, shooting a 10-under 206 to
win by three strokes. Bennett, who leads the Ospreys with a 71.1
scoring average, was the country's top-ranked skier in the
16-to-17-year-old division for giant slalom in 1995.
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