In the summer of his 13th year, the power came. In a matter of months, it seemed, his 170-yard drive had found an extra city block, and suddenly the boy was standing at the open car trunks of 40-year-old members who had won club, city and state championships, collecting bets—there was nearly a grand in the wad in his cigar box at home. "Dammit, Pro," the men started telling his father, "we'd rather have you out there than that little s—-son of yours." The Air Force Academy team stopped by Timuquana on a Southern swing; someone suggested a driving contest. The college boys ripped. Then 6'4", 250-pound Steve (Sasquatch) Young, supposedly Timuquana's biggest belter, ripped. David stepped up last and outripped them all by 40 yards.
Golf was the perfect sport for David. It all hinged on him. No one else could affect his performance—not an overpowering pitcher or acrobatic defender, not a distracted teammate or timekeeper or referee. It confirmed the logic of his experience, of his organs and tissue: Rely on no one, be affected by no one...except me. He would place himself inside a cavern with one pinprick of light high above, one way out: the PGA Tour.
"Are you sure you don't want to go to your school's football game tomorrow, David?" his father would ask. Bobby was back home now, giving the marriage another chance. "David, you don't want to go to your prom?"
David would look up from his bed, from behind one of the books he had taken up for company. Would going to the game or the prom inch him closer to the pinprick of light? "No, Dad."
"Why not, David?"
"Don't want to." An attitude was crystallizing, a philosophy, a hard, shiny integrity that sneered at compromise. At 15, David watched his father soothing a club member who was complaining about a dysfunctional cart. "Tell him," David told his dad when the whiner walked out, "to kiss your ass."
The night his high school classmates were out celebrating graduation, David was on a flight to Texas for a tournament. He hadn't won any of the big ones yet, but that summer, his last in the juniors, he took four of the most prestigious events, including the U.S. Junior Amateur. "To really improve," he would say one day, "you need to rise and fall alone, and each time learn why. That can be very lonely, but I'm not afraid of aloneness. I've done it. It's not so bad."
The boy packed his clothes, his clubs and his black Lamborghini poster. It was time to leave home and go to a new place, filled with strangers who might...well, he couldn't even guess. It would be safer to remain alone, of course. The safest place of all would be alone at the top.
Mike Clark, a returning veteran on Georgia Tech's golf team, had taken David to a frat party during his recruiting visit. That was his first mistake. Then came his second. "We've got four really good golfers coming back," Clark said. "All we need is a good Number 5, and we've got a helluva team."