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We were approaching the tournament. Kyle was the most anxious and distressed I had ever seen him. But seeing all of the people that he was about to compete against only fueled his passion to win.
Kyle had always been a competitive kid. He could make anything into a game whether it was playing baseball, video games, or even just reading a book. We lived in the suburbs of Nyack, with our parents and me. Kyle had never done well in school, but had always been a nice kid that was pretty well liked by most. He had never really had a certain “thing” though. Sure he liked reading, video games, and playing sports with his friends, but he never showed an immense interest in anything for more than a few days.
This all changed when his grandfather got him a set of golf clubs for his 11th birthday. He could not put those things down after that! It became all he ever wanted to do. He would go out to the backyard, and pretend to be Tiger Woods at the PGA Masters in Augusta, GA for hours at a time. I remember him telling me that he wanted to be just like Tiger one day. He said, “If he can do it, why can’t I?”. It was difficult for him to go anywhere in the sport because golf was such a predominantly white dominated sport. This was all my parents ever thought about. It made me so upset. They were so much more concerned about the fact that they had a black child, while they should’ve been worrying about what they needed to do to help their son achieve his dream. It was clear he had a talent, a real talent. I had to do something about it. I went to my parents and tried to tell them that Kyle’s golf career had to be taken more seriously. I said,
“Kyle is an unbelievable golfer, and this could be our family’s chance to make it out of our horrible living situation we are in.” My parents both told me off.
“Golf isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a hobby. Maybe if he could get better grades, then he might make something of his life.”
“You have to trust me!”, I said, “he’s got a real talent!”.
“No! All this family needs is people trying to chase a dumb dream that will never get them anywhere in life. Go upstairs and tell him that he has no business pursuing a career in this sport!”.
This really made me want to help him out even more. For the first time, I really felt that a member of the Davis family could go somewhere in life. So I tried to make myself a manager type figure in his life. I would take him to the driving range 3 times a week for the next 5 years, and occasionally spent my own money to let him play on our local course. One day the golf pro sat behind us, and at the end of our golf session, he asked Kyle how long he’d been golfing. Kyle politely responded with an answer of four years. The pro was taken back by the answer, considering the fact that someone with this kind of talent usually has 20 to 25 years of experience. He told him that he really had some talent, and he ought to go out to the junior PGA Walk-On tournament, and see if you could apply for the national 17-year-old Pro-Am tournament.
Up until now,, Kyle had never thought of golf as a competition, but instead he just thought of it as a game. Kyle leapt with excitement when he heard the mention of a competition that could be made out of his favorite past time. The next weekend Kyle and I found ourselves at The National Junior Pro-Am Walk-On tournament. Kyle had set his expectations pretty low considering he was one of 500 kids trying to make it into this tournament. Only the top 20 kids actually made it.
When Kyle stepped on the first tee, I could feel his competitive nature come alive! He was unstoppable! Holes one through 18 he killed the competition! He crushed The ball off the tee, went on to hit his fairway shots straighter than ever, and rarely missed a putt! Nothing could stop him! In the end of it all, he finished 13th out of 500 people, which got him into the national Junior PGA Finals!
He finally made it. It was his chance to show the world what he's really got. The power rankings were out, and Kyle was ranked 16th out of the 20 competitors. He was paired up with the number one ranked kid for when they went out. At 1 PM they teed off. Kyle's first shot went right of the fairway into the woods, and he was forced to take a one-stroke penalty. It was not a good start. I knew that Kyle would bounce back from this, and make it up with his next shot. His second shot did not go according to plan either! He hit it over the green, and into the Sandtrap behind it. My heart was racing at this point. He needed a good next shot to stay in contention for 1st place. He then had a great chip up onto the green and putt it in for a double bogey. This was not a good start for Kyle. The next hole, he bounced back with a par. Then, for the next 15 holes, he was on fire! He shot birdies, and pars the whole way! He was in second place, behind his previously number one ranked partner. At the last hole, it was between Kyle and his partner for the title. Winning was an extremely big deal. The person to come in 1st place would secure themselves a spot in the next PGA tour golf outing! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time during the last hole. Hundreds of people gathered along the fairways to watch the two tee off. Kyle’s shot went right down the middle of the fairway! It was a near perfect shot! Next, it was his partner's turn. His partner duffed his drive, and it went 20 yards to the right of the fairway into the rough! It was good news for Kyle! Kyle's next shot was another beauty! It landed about 15 feet to the right of the pin, on the green! The crowd errupted with applause. His partner then proceeded to also hit a beautiful shot that landed on the green as well. It all came down to this last shot. If Kyle could make this putt, and have his partner miss his, he would win the whole tournament! This time, his partner was up first. He took his time lining up his putt, and gave it a swing. It it rolled, and rolled, and rolled until it missed 1 inch to the right of the hole! I had felt like I heard the whole crowd cheer a little bit because Kyle's partner missed. I could tell they were all behind Kyle. Kyle got up to the ball, and read the break of the green. He then lined up the putt, and gave the ball one final tap. The time the ball was in motion felt like a year! It rolled, and rolled, until finally it dropped in the back of the cup! The crowd burst with excitement and happiness! Kyle had won! I ran out and congratulated him on his victory. I could see tears of joy rolling down his face. After his win, out came his idol, Tiger Woods! He had a talk with Kyle, and told him how proud he was of his perseverance and determination of the sport. Then, he congratulated him on the win, and told him that he'll see him next weekend out on the PGA tour.
Through all of the hardships he had faced in his life so far, and all of the problems between him and his parents, he was still able to succeed in the end. Kyle was ecstatic, and I was so proud of everything he has done. He didn’t let anyone, or anything stop him. I knew he had it in him from the beginning.