PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – On the eve of the AJGA’s Junior Players Championship, a reporter asked a cloud of people waiting for a rainstorm under the Porte Cochere of the TPC Sawgrass if any of them saw 17-year-old Tommy Morrison early in Texas who almost stole the title a year ago with a 67th Sunday.
“Just look up,” said one junior’s parent with a smile. “It’s pretty hard to miss.”
At 6 feet and 10 inches tall, Morrison really stands out from the crowd. From birth – he weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces, although he came a few weeks earlier – he was a big boy.
“From first grade until now, I’ve always been the tallest in my class and everyone was telling me to play football,” said Morrison.
He played a little of everything, including basketball, until the age of 12 and was good enough to compete on an AAU travel team coached by former Duke star Mark Alarie. But then, in 2017, Morrison won the boys’ category at the age of 12 at the US Kids World Championship at Pinehurst Resort.
“On the plane back home, he said (via golf), ‘I just love that.’ I saw something else in his eyes, ”his mother recalled. “After that, he didn’t want to go to basketball training. He wanted to practice golf until it got dark. “
Morrison’s grandfather, a college basketball player and avid golfer, deserves credit for introducing him to the game. (His great-grandfather was a former catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, among others, and was also influential in teaching him the mental side of the sport and how to play at an elite level.) At the age of 9, Morrison began with trainer Bernie Najar. to work together, the golf director of Caves Valley. It was Morrison who made the decision to devote himself to golf. Why did the game prevail against everyone else?
“I love the feeling of hitting a good shot and spending time on the golf course,” said Morrison. “I love spending time in the country, maybe too much time. It’s what I do. “
Morrison, a junior in high school, chose wisely. He won the 2020 Southern Junior Championship and was elected to the Rolex Junior All-American Team last year. That year he skipped several junior events to try his hand at the next level of amateur competitions. He hasn’t had a top 10 placement since March and as a result his Golfweek Junior ranking has slipped to 20th, but the long-term benefits of playing against tougher competition may outweigh the short-term setbacks.
He has also strengthened his teaching team by adding Jamie Mulligan, coach of FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay, as an advisor since the beginning of the year. Morrison, who moved to Frisco, Texas two years ago, travels frequently to Southern California to be under Mulligan’s tutelage at his home club, the Virginia Country Club.
“He’s well beyond his years, both physically and mentally,” said Mulligan. “When you talk to him, he sounds like a 25-year-old man, the way he sees golf and life. It reminds me of a young John Cook or a Paul Goydos or even a Patrick Cantlay. “
Mulligan rated many junior golfers in his day and he hasn’t been wrong too often. He sees talent of Tour caliber.
“Its potential is unlimited,” said Mulligan.
So did Morrison’s ambitions. He dreams of one day being number 1 in the world. But first things first – finding the right golf shoes.
“He’s 17 feet tall and Nike only makes up to 16 in golf shoes,” said his mother. “He dreams of meeting Michael Jordan one day and asking him to create a golf shoe his size so that he can wear the Jump Man logo.”
Even Morrison’s dreams are oversized.
Check the treadmill: Grayhawk Golf Club, NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship website