When Tyler Spears’ grandparents bought him his first set of golf clubs at the age of 8, they likely thought his childhood dream of becoming a professional golfer was just that, a dream.
Six years later, it’s still a faraway reality, but the 14-year-old freshman at Robert E. Lee High School is turning heads on the golf course for his impressive performances.
In late September, Spears, a lefty golfer, became the first individual Liberty District Tournament champion for Lee golf in 13 years. He beat out Lake Braddock senior Kenny Towns, the three-time defending district champion.
“The first day I went out and starting thinking of making it to regionals,” said Spears. “The senior I beat had won it the previous three years, so I was the underdog coming in and there was no pressure on me.”
Spears’ dad, one of his biggest supporters, was out of town for the big match.
“He called me and told me he shot 75 the first day and was tied for fourth place,” said Randy Spears. “I said, ‘That’s good, the top five go to regionals.’ Then his coach John Terrien called me and told me he shot 33 on the front on the second day, and I was thinking, ‘OK, just hold it together and then maybe he’ll qualify.’”
But Tyler Spears didn’t just qualify. He shot a 69, by far his best score in any tournament, and won districts by four strokes.
“There are always moments like that where it’s kind of like the beginning of a career,” said Randy Spears.
The win sent Tyler Spears to the Virginia Northern Regional Tournament at Twin Lakes in Clifton on Oct. 5 and 6. After a tough first day, Tyler Spears rebounded and finished with a respectable two-day score of 166, not far behind the leader, Chantilly senior Ji Soo Park, who finished with a 1-over-par 145.
These recent accomplishments have given Tyler Spears a glimpse of what it will take to reach his ultimate goal of becoming a PGA professional.
Tyler Spears developed a deep interest in golf at young age following his dad around the course, but really began to play when he was about 10.
He worked diligently over the next three years, giving up his success in Little League baseball, to focus on golf and refine his skills. Yet, it was only about six months ago that he realized he had what it took to bring his game to the next level.
He was at a tournament in Maryland this past spring when he broke 80 for the first time, burying his last hole to finish the day in the 70s.
“He always competed but he never was in the top 10 and then all of the sudden in the last six to eight months his abilities started getting a lot better,” said Randy Spears.
Yet, Tyler Spears knows he will need more than confidence and hard work to excel. He plans on adding muscle to his lanky 6-foot-2-inch, 145-pound frame.
“We’re going to get a weight training program going for these players in the off season so they get stronger and start hitting the ball a little farther next year,” said coach Terrien of Tyler Spears and his Lee High golf teammates.
In the meantime, Tyler Spears will continue to compete in tournaments until December. He will balance a relentless practice schedule at Springfield Country Club to stay fresh in between tournaments.
“I’ll practice my putting one day, and come back the next day and go to the range and practice there, and then after the third day I might go play nine holes and then follow that routine,” said Tyler Spears.
As a lefty golfer, he hopes to someday emulate Phil Mickelson, one of the top-ranked PGA golfers in the world.
Only time will tell if Tyler Spears can achieve such greatness, but if the past few months are any indication, he is well on his way.