From Maine to Maui, parents dropped their spoons into their oat bran last week when they read the headline HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR QUALIFIES FOR PGA TOUR. To my wife, Linda, and me, it was like reading CARROT TOP ON MARS PROBE.
See, we happen to know a high school junior, our son Kel. Rumor has it he lives in our house. In fact, that may have been Kel who just headed off to school with a Pop-Tart trapped in each armpit, a Pepsi spilling out of one hand, a toothbrush in the other, hat worn sideways, jeans big enough to lose Charles Barkley in and shoes with laces that have never been introduced. It was very difficult to picture him heading off to, say, win the Masters.
Yet 17-year-old Ty Tryon of Orlando next month will become a regular on the PGA Tour. To us, it seemed unthinkable, like naming Britney Spears Federal Reserve chairman. Naturally, we had to talk to Ty's parents.
But Bill and Georgia Tryon say their high school junior is pretty much like ours—big mop of hair, standard-issue pimples, eats more than the Marines, skinny as a two-iron, size 13 boats and loves Taco Bell, his headphones and girls, in that order. Like Kel, Ty has gotten tickets, one for speeding and one for playing his stereo so loud it rattled Gap windows—two malls over. The folks at the Bob Hope Classic are going to love that.
Like our son, Ty has a girlfriend (except that his is an Elite agency model), homework (except that his aunt tutors him wherever he is) and neighbors to annoy (except that his include 'N Sync's Justin Timberlake, two doors down). The big difference is that Bill's kid drives the ball an average of 309 yards laser-straight, shot 66 on the final day of Q school to earn his Tour card and stands to make more money by his 18th birthday than the gross national product of Uzbekistan.
"I just look at it like a job," says Ty. "A lot of my friends work at Publix. I'll be working on the Tour." Except that instead of $6.50 an hour, Ty will make $1 million next year in endorsements alone. Wait till his buddies hear that. We need a cleanup on Aisle 11.
You figure, if Ty wins a tournament, he can get, say, Fred Couples to buy him a six-pack? You think he'll try to burn courtesy-car rubber down Magnolia Lane? How's he going to play Tiger in one of those night matches if it runs past Ty's curfew?
Golf better not expect this kid to carry himself like Davis Love III. If Ty's anything like our son, he'll try to ride one lap around on the baggage carousel, turn his dirty underwear inside out and declare it clean, and leave lit bags of dog poop in front of Nick Faldo's room before knocking and running. Room service, can you send up that real squiggly kind of Kraft Mac & Cheese?
How's he going to get his homework done? Please excuse Ty from school last week. He was in Los Angeles winning the Nissan Open.
Actually, either Bill, a mortgage lender; Georgia, the mother of four; or Ty's grandfather Bill Sr., an insurance man, will travel with him at all times. They'll all be yelling at him to turn off the PlayStation 2 and go to bed, just the way they do at home. "Ty will get school credit for having a job," says Georgia. Teacher: Ty, I had to give you a B in golf. Next time, try to bring your A game.