Teen Could Make PGA

Friday, March 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- Ty Tryon is on the verge of something not even Tiger Woods could do, take a week off from high school and make the cut on the PGA Tour.

Tryon, a 16-year-old sophomore who got into the Honda Classic as a Monday qualifier, proved he belonged Thursday with birdies on the last three holes for a 5-under 67, which left him only two strokes out of the lead.

Woods was younger by nine months when he was given a sponsor's exemption into the Los Angeles Open in 1992, but he missed the cut with rounds of 72-75.

Tryon not only played well beyond his years, he was within shouting distance of leaders Jesper Parnevik, Geoff Ogilvy and Ben Ferguson.

"I had a great time out there," Tryon said. "I really enjoyed it. Playing well is definitely a plus, but it was awesome. I had a lot of fun."

Parnevik, Ferguson and Ogilvy each shot a 7-under-par 65 and shared the first-round lead on the TPC at Heron Bay. Eighteen others, including Tryon, were within two shots heading into the second round.

Tryon couldn't put aside the urge to start his PGA Tour career in style. He shrugged off the advice of his caddie that he hit 2-iron off the first tee.

"Because it was my first pro tournament, I just wanted to rip a driver down there," Tryon said.

Tryon hit a 300-yard drive down the middle. It was a sign of things to come.

On a perfect day for scoring, Tryon made seven birdies. He birdied each of the four par-5s and closed with birdies on four of the final five holes.

Even through Tryon was nervous before his opening tee shot, he settled down quickly. The only time he got rattled was after a three-putt on No. 10. He missed a 3-footer for par.

Tryon recovered well, parring the next three holes and setting up a dramatic finish.

He played out of a fairway bunker and from a green-side bunker on the par-5 16th, delivering two good sand shots and sinking a 15-foot putt for birdie.

His approach shot on the par-4, 17th stopped 3-feet from the hole and he made another birdie.

He sank a 20-foot putt on the final hole to finish strong.

"He looked like he had done it a hundred times before," said caddie Tim Thalmueller, who normally carries Edward Fryatt's bag but is working for Tryon this week.

Tryon was the only player in the 144-man field to make birdies on each of the three finishing holes.

"I'm not surprised at all he played well," said Kevin Smeltz, Tryon's coach at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Orlando. "He's mature for his age and he's pretty levelheaded. I knew he wouldn't be as overwhelmed as other kids would be."

Smeltz even took it a step further when asked how good he thought Tryon will be down the road. Smeltz reached into his pocket, pulled out his sunglasses, and as he put them on, said: "The future is pretty bright. Everyone get their shades on. It's pretty bright."