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Perez wins Q-School, Tryon makes cut

The PGA Tour is about to get some peach fuzz.

Ty Tryon, the 17-year-old golfer with a man-sized game, became the youngest player in history to earn a PGA Tour card Monday when he closed with a bogey-free 66 to easily finish in the top 35 at qualifying school.

How to celebrate such a feat?

``Shirley Temples!'' said his father, Bill Tryon, who groomed the boy to be a pro from the time he sent him to swing guru David Leadbetter at age 7.

Tryon started the final round at breezy Bear Lakes Country Club three strokes out of the top 35 and needing his best score of the six-day tournament to get his card. He had a 66 in mind and delivered, making the most gut-wrenching day in golf look like child's play.

``It's just unbelievable,'' said Tryon, who finished at 18-under 414 and in a tie for 23rd, nine strokes behind winner Pat Perez. ``Tonight when I go to sleep, I'll know that I'm on the PGA Tour.''

He'll have to wait seven months.

The PGA Tour adopted a new policy in September that players be 18 before they can become members. Tryon turns 18 on June 2.

Until then, he can accept sponsor's exemptions to seven tournaments and play no more than 12. He will not show up on the PGA Tour money list until June.

That can wait. Next up is rookie orientation, followed by a more pressing concern. The junior at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando has an English paper due Friday on ``To Kill a Mockingbird.''

``Yeah, I've read so much,'' Tryon said, rolling his eyes.

He has proved to be a quick study in the ranks of professional golf.

Tryon was playing junior golf a year ago, and burst onto the stage at the Honda Classic in March. A Monday qualifier, he became the youngest player in 44 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour. He was 16 at the time, and wound up in a tie for 39th.

In July, he was tied for the lead after one round of the B.C. Open and finished tied for 37th.

``After the first round of the B.C. Open, I was like, 'This is doable.' I didn't know it would be this smooth, right through Q-school on the first try,'' he said.

Tryon made it through all three stages of Q-school, with 12 of his 14 rounds under par.

The only pressure he faced was on Monday, a final round with as much at stake as the back nine of a major championship. Only the top 35 and ties get their PGA Tour cards, while the rest go to the developmental Buy.com Tour.

Tryon was cool from the start, ripping a 300-yard drive down the middle of the fairway and hitting a wedge into 6 feet for birdie. He stalled over the next five holes, then was informed that his threesome was being timed.

It was only fitting the way Tryon responded, since he has been in a hurry to get to the big leagues all year. He birdied the next two holes, then sealed his spot on the Tour by hitting a 3-iron from 227 yards into a stiff breeze to 12 feet and making the putt for eagle on No. 3, his 12th hole.

He gave himself breathing room on another par 5, his 15th hole, when his 2-iron from 240 yards sailed over the flag and stopped 20 feet away from a two-putt birdie.

Tryon's two younger brothers and sister -- none play golf -- and his parents followed him, showing little emotion, as if they expected this all along.

``I was very pensive watching destiny play itself out,'' his father said. ``He's got a lot of heart. All he needed was someone to tell him he couldn't do it.''

Bill Tryon said he felt vindicated by those who criticized his decision to let his son turn pro after the U.S. Amateur, where Tryon failed to qualify for match play. He signed with IMG and picked up endorsements from Callaway Golf and Target Stores that are worth as much as $1 million a year.

``It's easy to jump on the wrong side of this issue because it goes against the grain,'' Bill Tryon said. ``I just knew that with this kid, what he had in his heart and mind ... I felt this could happen. You cannot underestimate the power of a dream.''

The dream was a long time in the works.

He was born William Augustus Tryon IV, but his father began calling him ``Ty'' at an early age after his favorite character in the movie ``Caddyshack'' -- Ty Webb.

The family sold its business in North Carolina in 1993 and moved to Orlando, in part to let the oldest son's passion for golf flourish. Tryon went to the Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton for eighth and ninth grades.

College was never a consideration.

``Honestly, Ty couldn't even see the tunnel, let alone the light at the end,'' his father said. ``He ramped up the food chain too fast. He's all about tournament golf, and that's what he is focused on.''

As Tryon lined up his birdie putt on the second hole, someone passing by the course in a car screamed out, ``Tiger Woods.''

Not quite. What remains to be seen is whether a kid who can hit the ball with amazing power can eventually challenge him.

``I've always said that Tiger's competition will come from the youth,'' Jack Nicklaus said after watching his son, Gary, earn his card. ``This might be one of the kids.''

Tryon hit one growth spurt earlier this year to reach 5-foot-11. His body is still wiry, his cheeks are pocked with acne and he has some room to grow into his size-13 shoes.

He might only be getting started.

``I expect less of him than he'll probably deliver because that's been his history since he's been a little kid,'' Bill Tryon said. ``If he can get in the game, and get where he can overachieve, he usually does.''

Tryon certainly did at Q-school, and now gets to see how his game stacks up against Woods, David Duval and Phil Mickelson on the toughest tour in golf.



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