Undoubtedly, 2001 has been the Year of the Kid in golf. Take Ty Tryon (below). A 17-year-old junior-to-be at Dr. Phillips High in Orlando, Ty made news last week by announcing that he's turning pro after this week's U.S. Amateur and will enter the PGA Tour Q school in the fall. Ty, who plans to complete high school while playing 15 pro tournaments a year, isn't the only young golfer who has made headlines in 2001. Here are the kids who have made the biggest splashes, in descending order of impact.
Ty Tryon, 17 Coming to a Tour stop near you soon, Ty qualified for the Honda Classic in March by shooting a 70 in a 30-mph gale, then became the youngest player in 44 years to make a cut on Tour, finishing 39th. He bettered that last month, sharing the first-round lead with a 65 at the B.C. Open and coming in 37th. If Ty doesn't get his Tour card, he'll seek sponsors' exemptions for U.S. and European tour events.
Morgan Pressel, 13 She was 12 in May when she became the second-youngest golfer ever to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open. Morgan, an eighth-grader at Omni Middle School in Boca Raton, Fla., also reached the semifinals of the U.S. Girls' Junior, in which she lost to the eventual winner, Nicole Perrot.
Michelle Wie, 11 This sixth-grader from Honolulu is 5' 9" and wears a men's size 9� shoe. In June she became the youngest golfer, and the first female, to qualify for the 94-year-old Manoa Cup, Hawaii's match-play championship for men. In May, Michelle won the 54-hole Jennie K. Wilson, a women's amateur event, by nine shots. She dreams of playing on the PGA Tour—yes, with the men-even though "I don't like boys," she says. "They're kind of annoying."
Jake Paine, 3 Jake's parents got calls from the TV networks in July after he became the youngest person ever to make a hole in one. Using a Snoopy driver (he also has a wedge and a putter), Jake aced the 66-yard 6th hole at the Lake Forest ( Calif.) Golf Center. A lefty, he shot a 48 on the par-29 nine-hole course. The manufacturer of the Snoopy driver offered Jake and his older brother, Jordan, free clubs, but their folks said no to avoid jeopardizing the kids' amateur status.
Aaron Hidock, 2 Jake, meet Aaron. From Pelham, Ala., Aaron teed it up in July in a qualifying event for the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship when he was two years, five months and nine days old. He shot an 89 on the 900-yard course with his dad, Joey, a club pro, carrying him between shots. Aaron, whose best score is a 78, has one problem that he'll need to overcome. "Sometimes he intentionally hits the ball in the water. That appeals to him," says his mom, Heather.
Naree Wongluekiet, 15 Naree and her twin sister, Aree, who live in Bradenton, Fla., have been turning heads with their play for years, but in February, Naree beat a field of pros (and her sister, who finished 16th) in the Thailand Open at Bangkok Golf Club.
James Vargas, 17 A rising senior at Columbus High in Miami, in March, James became the youngest player to tee it up in the Genuity Championship at Doral. About time, too. When he was 15, he shot a 69 in qualifying for Doral, missing by two strokes.
Stephanie Kono, 11 One more Honolulan child beating adults. In June the now sixth-grader became the youngest Hawaii Women's Match Play champion, topping Desiree Ting, 23, who'd played for Hawaii, 6 and 5. Stephanie aced the 9th hole, a 220-yard par-4, during the match.
Nannetre Hill, 14 The youngest New York girls' junior champ in 2000 and the reigning Pelham ( N.Y.) Country Club women's champ, Nannette had a 10-3 record this spring playing on the boys' team at Pelham High.