Freshman to defend title

Indian Rocks Christian's Kolin Woodbury first won the Class A, District 15 title as an eighth-grader.

Published October 8, 2006

SEMINOLE - It's the kind of thing that can make a grown man sick.

Grant Horvath walked into the clubhouse at Tarpon Woods in late August. A freshman, he found his best friend, Kolin Woodbury, also a freshman, slumped in a chair.

"So I was like, 'Good job Kolin,' " Horvath said. "Kolin just looks up and is like, 'Shut up dude.' "

Woodbury would later call his round of 75 at the 18-hole East Lake Invitational that day "unacceptable" and "horrible".

Yes, one of the world's oldest games - golf - is getting younger. Teenagers who don't even have their driver's licenses are driving greens and finishing with scores that are the envy of most who play the game. Sophomores, freshmen and even eighth-graders have turned golf into yet another four-letter word: easy. These kids aren't just all right, they're downright good.

Woodbury is the perfect example. He'll be the favorite at Lake Seminole Country Club on Monday, where he'll defend the Class A, District 15 individual title he won last year as an eighth-grader with a 1-under par at Indian Rocks Christian.

The Golden Eagles won the team title but missed the state cut by one stroke. Woodbury edged Calvary Christian's Mike Baskovich in a playoff for the region low individual and finished 74th at state. Next week, he'll celebrate his 15th birthday.

"Nine more days. I can't wait," said Woodbury, walking off LSCC after Saturday's practice round of even par. "We're young, but most of us have a mature mental game."

Woodbury was a ranked Jr. USTA tennis player for much of his childhood. After a successful tournament, his coach took the team for a golf outing. Then came Tiger Woods' 1999 U.S. Open performance.

"When I saw that, I went straight to the range," Woodbury said. "I pretty much started playing seriously four years ago. I've had my problems. When I got tired, I started hitting quick. I've fixed that now, and I think the putter is coming, too."

Woodbury is third on the Florida Junior Tour and says he's more consistent now than ever.

"I love pressure. I thrive on it," Woodbury said. "I mean, I can't stand second place. There's no room for that. One shot at a time, that's all it is."