Below par, not subpar

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tyler Brown prepares to swing during a 2009 tournament. Brown has been accepted onto the men’s golf team at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.

It is not an uncommon sight for golfers in Atmore to watch a young man, often half their age, pull ahead of them on the golf course. Tyler Brown has been doing it consistently in area tournaments since his early teens.

Brown, of Atmore, has recently joined the University of South Alabama Men’s Golf team. Brown was granted the chance by placing well in a walk-on tryout that involved other competitors.

“If I showed I was competitive with the team and had a better than average chance in a tournament, then I would have a chance to make the team,” Brown said.

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So far, his experiences on the team have been positive.

“It’s been fun. I’ve really enjoyed it,” Brown said. “I really like all the guys on the team. They’re all really nice.”

On Sept. 10 and 11, Brown competed along side five other University of South Alabama golfers in the Sam Hall Intercollegiate at Hattiesburg Country Club, hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi. A total of 15 NCAA Division I-A teams competed and the University of South Alabama team finished third in the tournament behind the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University.

Brown recorded scores of 73, 75 and 68 to finish in a tie for 24th place among 87 golfers.

Brown had mixed feelings about his play at the tournament.

“I was pleased with the second day. The first day was a bit of a struggle,” Brown said. “It may have been nerves.”

University of South Alabama’s next scheduled tournament is the Mason Rudolph Championship scheduled for Sept. 21-23 in Franklin, Tenn. and hosted by Vanderbilt University.

“It should be a pretty good tournament from everything I’ve heard,” Brown said. “This tournament should be a deeper field.”

The Mason Rudolph Championship will not only feature two of the better teams Brown has competed with thus far in University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, but host Vanderbilt University, University of Oklahoma and last year’s tournament winner, Middle Tennessee State University are all expected to compete in this year’s tournament. Brown said he looks forward to the high level of competition.

“It’s a whole different ballgame when you tee up and try to hit even par,” Brown said. “You’ll have to shoot at least a couple under to hang with those guys. I think it’s a really big deal.”

In fact, Brown said one of the main reasons he hoped to play for University of South Alabama’s team was for the chance to play against SEC teams several times throughout the season and higher competition in general.

His father, James Brown, is happy to see him playing against strong opponents.

“It’s good to see him playing against good competition,” James Brown said.

His father noted that playing against top-flight competition has and will continue to make Tyler elevate his game and become a better golfer.

Tyler Brown always aims to win, but he said he would be happy with a top 20 finish in the Mason Rudolph Championship.

“I’d like to play in every tournament and finish top 20 every tournament and improve throughout the season,” he said.

As for what lies ahead, Tyler Brown may have to get a waiver from the NCAA if he is to play beyond this season. He said that is something he hopes to pursue because he wants to continue playing golf at a high level and continue his education in graduate school.

Prior to making the team at USA, Brown competed in several tournaments over the summer, winning the Atmore Country Club Championship for the fourth consecutive year, and competing in the Firecracker Classic in Mobile, Ala., at Heron Lakes Country Club, and in two tournaments on the Lite Scratch Tour at Rock Creek Golf Club. Brown also played at Cotton Creek at Craft Farms. He also is the current leader for Player of the Year on the Lite Scratch Tour.