LUGOFF, S.C. (WIS) - For Lugoff native and Coastal Carolina golfer Tyler Gray, moments with his dad created a lifetime love for golf.
Gray first learned his way around the links playing by his father's side.Tyler was eight years old when he started. He quickly took to the game and golf put him on a course he was always meant to be on.
"It just caught on and caught on,” Gray said. “It's turned into this. I'm forever grateful."
Gray prepares to compete against the best from the Palmetto State next month. In August, the 19-year-old tees off in the South Carolina Golf Association Amateur Championship for the second time in his career.
"Played in this event when I was 16,” he said. “And I made the cut, but did not have a really good finish."
Gray's accomplished quite a bit since then. The former Thomas Sumter standout earned the 2017 SCISA Player of the Year honors, two state titles, several Columbia City championships and a spot on Coastal Carolina's golf team.
"Going into it, I feel a lot more confident about my game,” Gray said. “Mentally stronger."
Gray sharpened the mind as a freshman this past year at Coastal.
"They taught me so much about the game,” he said. “Even though I didn't get to play much, I learned so much more then I have ever in my junior golf career, just one year down there at Coastal."
He knows that between the ears is where confidence lies.
"I feel like I can handle pressure situations so much better,” Gray stated. “I know when I was younger, I did not do as good of a job. I was panicky and a lot of anxiety going into golf tournaments. Now, I'm comfortable."
It shows. Gray recently won a qualifying event to solidify his spot in the SCGA Amateur Championship. Now, he looks to put together another winning effort to join a list of previous winners that includes Bill Haas, Lucas Glover, and DJ Trahan.
"If I can put my name alongside all those names, I believe one day I can do more with this game," Gray said.
Like, perhaps, playing in the Masters.
"My life would be set!” Gray said. “That's something I dreamt about since I was younger."
For now, he focuses on where his feet are by being the best version of Tyler for Coastal.
"This is my year where they need me to step up. I'm going to do my best to produce for them."