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The natural

This 15-year-old didn't his first golf ball until age 10, but you'd think he's been playing since birth.

By LOGAN D. MABE

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 1, 2001


photo
[Times photo: Mike Pease]
T.C. Seibert practices four to five times a week, mostly at the Country Club of Carrollwood.

CARROLLWOOD -- He's not old enough to sit behind the wheel of a car, but T.C. Seibert can drive a golf ball like nobody's business. He's years away from the legal drinking age, but he can drain putts from all over the green.

Seibert is just 15 years old, but his golf game is man-sized. And so is he. Seibert, who will be a sophomore at Gaither High School in the fall, is 6-2. And growing, as is his reputation on the links.

As a freshman, Seibert finished the golf season as the Cowboys' No. 1 player and won the district tournament. He even tried to make it to the U.S. Open championship but had a bad day at the qualifying tournament held at Hunter's Green.

Seibert, who lives in Carrollwood Village, shot a four over par 76. A score of 70 would have allowed him to advance to the next qualifier.

What's most surprising about Seibert's game is how quickly he developed it. Unlike a lot of child prodigies, Seibert didn't take up golf until he was about 10 years old.

"My dad is a good player, and we just went out one day and I fell in love with it," Seibert said. Two years later, he was shooting scores in the mid 70s. Now, his handicap hovers between a stroke or two.

"His swing is awfully pure," said Seibert's private coach Jamie Jackson. "I've been teaching so long I've had 19 players receive junior scholarships over the years and I've never seen that much talent. He's unbelievable."

Jackson said Seibert seems to have an innate knowledge of how to achieve various types of shots that other players must work on for years.

"We got to the point with his golf swing where I realized we really have to step this up," Jackson said. "So one day at the range I suggested some shots to him. Why don't you hit a high draw to that pin? Okay, now a low fade to that pin. I couldn't call them off fast enough. He just had an intuitive sense about how to hit those shots."

Seibert practices four to five times a week, mostly playing at the Country Club of Carrollwood, where he regularly plays with the club's aces.

"When I play golf, I just work on the mental aspects," Seibert said. "Just pick out targets and hit it as close to them as I can. And play smart."

Seibert hopes that kind of smart play may lead him to a college career, maybe at Wake Forest or Georgia Tech. "If I'm good enough," Seibert said. One day, he'd like play the game professionally, "if I'm good enough."

Not that he would consider it hard work.

"I love it," Seibert said. "It's the best game in the world."

- Logan D. Mabe can be reached at 813-226-3464 or at mabe@sptimes.com.

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