Originally created 01/25/02

A tough day at the office for high school phenom



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The PGA Tour's youngest rookie received a rude welcome Thursday in the Phoenix Open.

Seventeen-year-old Ty Tryon figured the toughest part of his debut would be nerves. He also had to deal with cold, blustery conditions, and a golf swing that went on recess during a front nine that left him numb.

"The more bad shots I hit, the more nervous I got," he said.

Tryon recovered with a birdie on his final hole for a 6-over 77, tied for the worse score among early starters and at least 10 shots behind the leaders.

"I'm glad it's over," he said.

He didn't hit a fairway until his eighth hole, and that was with an iron. He didn't have a birdie putt on any of the par 5s. Birdie opportunities were scarce.

When Tryon tracked his 20-foot birdie putt all the way into the cup on his final hole, he gave a faint fist pump and a smile.

"It was a tough day," he said. "It was windy, cold, I was nervous and I was hitting shots that I didn't want to hit."

It wasn't an easy day for anyone.

The round began 15 minutes late because of frost, and the temperature was 41 degrees when play finally began. Fittingly, one of the early leaders was a Canadian - Glen Hnatiuk, who overcame bogeys on two of his first three holes to post a 4-under 67.

John Daly, Chris DiMarco and defending champion Mark Calcavecchia, who set a PGA Tour scoring record at 28-under 256 last year, were another stroke back.

"It was just one of those solid rounds that I was never really in any trouble," Daly said, needing a few more of those to get into the Masters.

Under warmer skies in the afternoon, Steve Flesch was at 6 under and Cameron Beckman at 5 under as they finished their rounds.

Most of the attention was on Tryon, who became the youngest player to earn his tour card last year with a 66 on the final day of Q-school. About 500 gathered around the first tee and followed him along the TPC at Scottsdale.

The crowd tapered off toward the end of the round, but that was to be expected.

"I scared them off with my great performance," Tryon said. "If I want a bigger crowd, I guess I've got to make some birdies."

Birdies? At one point, par would have been a good companion.

He hit into a bunker on No. 10, his opening hole, and missed a 7-foot par putt. He badly missed the fairway to the right on his next hole, had to pitch into the fairway and took another bogey. On his first par 5, he sprayed his tee shot into the water.

Then, he showed his youth - dipping a wedge into the water to retrieve the ball, cleaning it off and taking his drop.

"I tried to rake a trap, too," Tryon said. "Hey, I'm a rookie."

He knocked wedges over two greens, and finished his front nine by hitting into the bunker, blasting out about 50 yards short of the green and then three-putting from 30 feet for a double bogey. He went out in 43.

"The fairways looked the size of a street," he said. "Once I made the turn, I was just like, you know, play as well as you can, forget about it. Can't do much worse."

He rinsed another ball on the par-5 third hole to go 8 over for his round, then started showing the game that got him through all three stages of Q-school.

"The first nine, I just wasn't myself," Tryon said. "I was really intense. And I just loosened up on the back and had a good time, talked a little more, just played golf."

That's what got him here in the first place - no pressure, lots of game, a good time.

It was Tryon's second tournament as a pro. He also played the Michelob Championship last year through a sponsor's exemption, missing the cut with rounds of 76-72.

Tryon first considered turning pro by skipping college - and trying to finish his last two years at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla. - after becoming the youngest player (16) in 44 years to make the cut in a tour event at the Honda Classic.

He also made the cut at the B.C. Open, and was tied for the lead after the first round.

This is his job now, and Tryon had a tough day at the office. Even after he signed for his 77, he still wasn't finished. He had to check with his tutor to get his homework assignment for the night.

"That will take my mind off this round," he said.

Divots: Mark Calcavecchia was inducted into the Phoenix Open Hall of Fame, the sixth player to get that honor since it began in 1985. Along with setting the PGA Tour scoring record for 72 holes last year, it was his third Phoenix Open victory. ... David Duval withdrew for personal reasons and was replaced by Pete Jordan, who had a 72. ... Playing with Ty Tryon was Greg Avant, a club pro from Chandler, Ariz. Avant, who had a 73, was not bothered by the large galleries following his teen-aged partner. "Two years ago, I played with Casey Martin," he said. "I was prepared for this." ... Phil Mickelson hit into the water and the bunker on the 18th for a double bogey and had a 72.