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Outside the Lines:
'Too Much, Too Soon'
|Here's the transcript from Show 95 of weekly Outside The Lines - 'Too Much, Too Soon'
Announcer - January 20, 2002.
Bob Ley, host - Tiger Woods was 20 years old when he did it.
Tiger Woods - The whole world, huh?
Ley - Sergio burst into the sports consciousness when he was 19.
Unidentified Male - Oh, my goodness, he hit it on the green.
Ley - Now Ty Tryon, a junior in high school, will join the PGA tour in four days.
Ty Tryon, golfer - It's not that much pressure. I'm only 17. It's not like I'm supporting a family or anything.
Ley - But even he is surprised by the accelerated process that turns a talented youngster into a professional.
Tryon - I thought maybe if I worked really hard, maybe I don't have to go college, or maybe I could do two years of college. I never knew I'd be on the PGA tour in high school, though.
Unidentified Male - Some things that he's going to miss in life are the things that, of course, at 17 or 18 years old he should be able to enjoy.
Unidentified Male - If Ty Tryon proves to be just a journeyman tour player, it will be a tragedy that he missed such a wonderful part of his life.
Ley - Today on Outside The Lines, can youngsters handle such a jump, or is it too much too soon?
Ley - In September, the PGA tour limited membership to golfers 18 years and older. If your sport institutes a rule with you specifically in mind, you must be good.
Ty Tryon is good. He's also months away from his 18th birthday. Whether he is the next great tour rookie will begin to play out come Thursday, when playing with a sponsor's exemption he tees off in Phoenix.
In the great and emerging American tradition of teenage professional athletes, Ty Tryon is as much corporation as youngster. Handled by the largest management firm in the world, already armed with endorsement contracts worth a reported seven figures, he recently turned down a reported $1 million appearance fee to play in Dubai in March to rather play in his home state of Florida.
The emergence of a teenager to the pros in any sport can provoke a debate and hand-wringing over the propriety of the move. What is beyond debate is that this young man has objectively earned his position. How he approaches it is the subject of our report this morning from Scott Van Pelt.
Scott Van Pelt, ESPN - In many ways, Ty Tryon is your average 17-year-old high school junior. He's got a girlfriend and a job after school to help earn a little money. Then again, his girlfriend Lauren is a model and his job is preparing to play professional golf as a card-carrying member of the PGA tour.
Although he's still in high school, last month Tryon graduated from Q school. That's how most in the golf community commonly refer to the PGA tours qualifying tournament. It's six rounds of often unbearable pressure where the professional lives of grown men hang in the balance.
In the final round, where veterans have been known to crumble, this teenager carded his best score of the week, a bogie-free 66, to earn his playing privileges.
Perhaps ignorance is bliss. Maybe he was too young to be scared. Maybe he was just that good.
Tryon - I just said, man, just go play as good as you can. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. It's not that much pressure. I'm only 17. It's not like I'm supporting a family or anything. It's my first year out and, I mean, not many people expect me to make it, including myself.
Van Pelt - Unlike other professional sports, where we've seen teenagers drafted based solely on that catch phrase up-side, Ty Tryon had quite literally earned the right to play.
But should he? The PGA tour wondered as well and created a rule where no player under the age of 18 could compete on a full-time basis.
Tryon can, however, play up to seven events under sponsor's exemptions before turning 18 on June 2nd.
Tryon - There's going to be people that think it's not the right decision for me. I mean, I totally expected that when I was going to do it.
Of course when I first came out, you know, since I earned my card and I got there, I was a little disappointed in it. But it worked out well because how could I really still, like, pursue my education in high school and finish school if I'm out there playing every week? It wouldn't happen. I mean, it would be really tough and I think I might have got tired out a little early.
It's a long season out there, so I think it worked out really good and we just looked at it as kind of an advantage for me.
Van Pelt - The reduced schedule allows Ty to continue high school this year, but next year he'll be eligible to play a full schedule of tour events if he is qualified. And if that's the case, how does he go back to high school for his senior year?
Tryon - I don't really know. Somehow I'm going to do it, but I'm just focusing on finishing this year first and then kind of taking things one step at a time. That's kind of how I've taken it the last few months.
You know, I just had this opportunity that not many people have, and that's the reason I did it. Because, I mean, I have to sacrifice a little to kind of gain a lot, I feel.
Van Pelt - Tryon isn't your typical kid. Nor is he your typical child prodigy. He wasn't destined for stardom from the crib, like Tiger Woods. He's simply seen both his body and his game mature at an amazing rate over the past 18 months.
On a sponsor's invitation last March he played in the Honda Classic, where he made the cut, becoming the second youngest player to do so in PGA tour history. That let him know he could compete with the pros, but he didn't dream he'd join them this quickly.
Tryon - No way. No way. I thought maybe if I played really well I wouldn't have to go to like four years of college, or something. I'd go to like two years of college, if I really kind of improved my game and just played well in some amateur tournaments and some pro tournaments. But I would have never guessed now, no way.
Van Pelt - There is little empirical data to study when it comes to 17-year-old professional golfers. Very few have done it.
Justin Rose was 17 when he finished fourth at the British Open in '98. He turned pro shortly thereafter and struggled mightily on the European tour, missing 17 consecutive cuts.
Now 21, Rose has seen his game come together.
David Ledbetter, renown golf instructor, worked with both Rose and Tryon in their formative years and he believes Ty is ahead of the learning curve.
David Ledbetter, golf instructor - I think that at this stage, that Ty is far ahead of him technically, and I think physically and even mentally. I just felt that Justin, when he went out on tour, wasn't actually ready and they pushed him way too early. He played too many tournaments.
I think that Ty is going to be obviously managed to a point where, hey, he's got a good team around him. He's not going to be pushed too much. He's going to only play a few tournaments to start the year. And I think pacing himself like that is almost like a two-year-old racehorse. You don't put a two-year-old in every race, no matter how good he is.
Van Pelt - Golf's version of the two-year-old's is at the junior and amateur level, and although Tryon won junior tournaments, he wasn't dominant. In fact, he never made it to the top 64 or match play portion of the U.S. Amateur. Still, Tryon's goals for this year are lofty.
Tryon - Of course I want to go out there and win. But I think a really good year for me would be top 50, I feel. Keeping your card is the first priority, but top 50 goes to the Master's and that's, like, that would be a kind of dream come true.
Van Pelt - Having already realized one dream, Tryon attempts to keep his day to day life as normal as possible, balancing homework with the occasional autograph request from a classmate. He is after all still in high school.
And while the PGA tour is pretty cool, it won't keep him from a certain social obligation this spring.
Tryon - My girlfriend is a senior, so, I mean, I don't want to miss the prom. I haven't been to a prom yet, either. I'm missing out on college already. I don't want to miss out on high school.
Ley - Well, coming this Thursday, Ty Tryon moves from worrying about the high school prom to the pressure of big money golf shots.
It is five-and-a-half years since Tiger Woods turned pro when he was 20. Tryon is 17. The question then for his now-peers, is it too early?
Unidentified Male - That's a good question. That is a very good question. That's a little early, and of course the things that he's going to miss in life are the things that a person 17 or 18 years old should be able to enjoy, his friends and some of the things that are just natural for young people to have.
I expect that he will miss some of those things, and maybe later in life he'll look back and maybe wish that he hadn't.
On the other side of that whole coin, what an opportunity it is for him.
Unidentified Male - You just don't come out and things kind of fall into your lap. You learn as you go, and that's why your first year is very difficulty, is learning the ropes, where to go, when to play, when not to play. You know, stuff like that, that off the golf course things will be difficult. And we'll help him along there. But on the golf course, he'll be just fine.
Ley - Scott Hoch, entering his 24th season on the PGA tour, a 10-time champion on the tour, several months ago had these thoughts.
He said, quote, "I think it's a joke. I know Ty. It's a terrible decision. What baffles me is that he's actually picked up some endorsement contracts. People are encouraging him to do this. I think that is indefensible."
Well, we are joined this morning by Scott Hoch, the golf pro, from Orlando. And Scott, good morning.
Scott Hoch, golf pro - Good morning.
Ley - Good morning. You said that a couple of months ago. Has your thinking evolved, or is that pretty much where you are now?
Hoch - Well, I guess that was a little harsh to begin with, but the thing is, when I said that, that was before he actually qualified, and to me, you know, I didn't think he had a chance to qualify.
But, there again, I eat my words again.
Ley - But you said...
Hoch - It's tempered a bit from what it was. I still think it's definitely a mistake, but to say a joke -- obviously, it's not a joke since he went through just what everybody else had to and qualified. I mean, his play showed that he's good enough.
Ley - And he earned his way on, that Q school.
Hoch - Yes, exactly.
Ley - Let's bring in the other members of our panel.
David Ledbetter, we heard from him in the piece, one of golf's most renown teachers. He has worked with Nick Faldo and Greg Norman among his many students. Now he's working with Ty Tryon. David this morning joins us from Monterey, California, where it is quite early. Thanks for joining us.
Dr. Bob Rotella is a sports psychologist. He has worked with many golfers and among his recent books, "Golf is a Game of Confidence." Bob Rotella joins us from Charlottesville, Virginia.
Gentlemen, thanks and welcome aboard.
David, why is he, Ty Tyron, good enough to make this move beginning Thursday?
Ledbetter - I think he's absolutely ready, Bob. I think here's a kid who is not a normal 17-year-old. If people realized the preparation that's gone into getting to where he is right now, it's amazing.
His dad, Bill, has really prepared the ground, really, for many, many years. And he's way ahead of his time.
Let's face it, we're in the era where kids are a lot more advanced than they used to be, so technically, mentally, physically, Ty, I feel, is ready. I think it's a challenge that he'll accept willingly.
Ley - Scott, is he that mature?
Hoch - Well, he must be. I mean, David knows him better than I do, although he is a friend of my sons and he's been to the house a number of times. I know him. I don't know him that well. But, to do what he's done and he seems very mature to talk with him, and a very nice kid.
So, whoever has been working with him has done a real good job.
Ley - Well, Bob Rotella, you've worked with a number of athletes. What is the biggest challenge that he's going to face? Is it off the course or on the course?
Dr. Bob Rotella, author - Well, I think he's going to face some challenges in both places. But I think it's great that a kid who is this single-minded has a place to go.
I mean, one of my concerns for a lot of college golfers is that some kids are going to play college golf, and they really shouldn't be in college. They don't care about academics, and all they do is practice and think about golf. And it's really a lie that they're student athletes.
I think in his case, if he loves golf this much, it's probably a very healthy thing that he's going out and saying all I want to do is play golf.
Ley - Now, Scott, you've made the statement in the past that on the PGA tour we've got college guys out there. I think you said educated people. You've drawn an analogy with the NBA. Do you still stand by that?
Hoch - Well, I think the difference in the tour is, well, the NBA, many of them went pro because of economic reasons. And I know that's not the case this time. And it's just because he wants to.
But I think that Ty should have gone on to college for maybe a couple of years and then decided. If he's good enough now, well just think how good he'll be in two years. And if it was a mistake and he just happened to play great that one week, you know, in two or three years he'll know that.
But I don't think by going to college for an extra couple of years will hurt his game or set him back, because this is a long -- this is a sport that you can play for a long time. So I really don't see the hurry to get out there.
Ley - Well, he's proven he can play golf.
Bob, let me read you a quote from John Cook, we heard from him just a few moments ago. Recently, he said "physically, Ty's got no problems, but there's another side to this, the emotional part, and I just don't think there is a teenager on the planet who is ready to deal with all of this, emotionally."
Rotella - And the big difference on tour is, all of the sudden, for the first time in your life, you go out there every week and if you don't finish in the top 10, you start getting beaten up and you start questioning yourself.
Clearly, Ty's got a real good group around him that is going to help him, but I think that's the difficulty, is you start questioning yourself, you start doubting yourself. And because of NCAA rules, if you get beaten up, he can't go back to college. He can get his amateur status back if he wanted.
But there's also a good chance he'll make it, and if he does, he'll probably be a role model for a lot of other young players who are as single-minded as he in today's world of golf.
Ley - Well, you talked about -- go ahead, please.
Ledbetter - I think we all realize that Ty is in it for the long-term. I think the fact is how he played in Phoenix is really immaterial as well as what's going to happen over the next two or three years. And we're all looking at it from a standpoint of let's see where Ty is three years down the road, and what greater arena could he have to really learn his trade?
I mean, it's almost like he's going to college. It's the way he's going to earn a living. And I think he might as well jump in the deep end. I mean, he's got the skills, he's got the talent, and he can only improve from here on in.
Rotella - As long as they maintain that philosophy, I think that will help the young man incredibly.
One of the statements I make to players all the time is it's not a race to see who gets there first, it's a race to see who gets there and stays there the longest. And if he can keep that long-term perspective, I mean, it does give you a chance to compete and measure your game and it'll help him in terms of developing at a quicker pace.
If he can keep his mind and his emotions together and if he can keep life in perspective, he'll probably be fine.
Ley - If there is an adjective, though, that is constantly applying to the sport, it is humbling. And it is echoed in the words of criticism from Dale Walker, he's the head golf coach at San Diego State. Let's hear from him for a second.
Dale Walker, San Diego State - I believe golf is learning to cope with failure. That's what golf is. And Ty Tryon to this point hasn't seen much failure. The question I would ask is, how is Ty Tryon going to cope with missing two cuts in a row, or three cuts in a row? And how is Ty Tryon going to cope if he doesn't achieve what he thinks he can achieve?
Ley - Scott, how do young golfers, young pros, when you're playing -- and of course, he's got endorsements, he's not living check to check -- but when you are young on the tour, how do you cope with failure? It's a humbling game.
Hoch - Well, I agree with a lot of that. I mean, you live week to week and mentally it's a frail game. I mean, you can have a couple of weeks in a row where you play poorly, and then you start getting in a rut, and it could be tough.
And at least for me, when I came out, I had some college experiences to fall back on. Obviously, Ty has, well, junior and amateur experiences to go by and to bring him out of it. And he does have a lot of good people behind him to help him with everything.
But, the younger you are, the tougher it's got to be. But yet he must be mature beyond his years. So in that way he is advanced, but it's -- you know, I agree with what the coach said. It's going to be the telling factor when he gets out there and doesn't have all the success that he's had in the past.
Ley - David...
Ley - Go ahead, Bob.
Rotella - One of the challenges is, you're always trying to get tour players to walk this healthy balance between being very self-reliant and independent and on the other hand being dependent upon some people who are there to guide and help. And it's good that he's got a great team.
But he's going to mature very early, and very quickly, what I see with young people who turn pro early, that the challenge is, he's going to start wanting to make his own decisions and he's going to start believing he's capable of making those decisions with such things as, you know, I want to take the next two months off to do what I want to do. I just don't want to play this week. And are people going to allow him to do what he wants to do?
And again, as long as the people around him have their act together and listen to him, that's just as important as him listening to the people around him.
Ley - David, in a phrase, how soon will we know if this is working out correctly for him?
Ledbetter - I think you'll see some signs at an early stage. I don't think necessarily he's going to content. I think he'll make a couple of cuts. I mean, it's a learning process that's going to be very different for him.
But I honestly think that we'll see some flashes. I mean, as long as people don't put too much pressure on him.
And I think we have to remember too, traditionally, if you look at other countries, Europe in particular, you go way back when to...
Ley - A lot of young kids overseas.
Got to wrap it right there. Yeah. Langer at 15.
Gentlemen, thanks all. Scott Hoch, David, you got up real early. We appreciate that. And Dr. Bob Rotella. Thanks all for joining us.
Rotella - Thank you.
Ley - When we continue, a first person account of turning pro at a tender age from a woman who understands the issue as few others. She joins us live when Outside The Lines continues.
Ley - Ty Tryon embarks on the PGA tour at age 17.
Youngsters in the pro world are accepted in the NBA. Kwame Brown went directly from high school graduation...
Kwame Brown - NBA, here I come.
Ley - To the top pick of the draft and playing with Michael Jordan.
And the athletes have gotten younger and younger.
Last week in New Zealand, Jae An played against Tiger Woods and made the cut, at the age of 13.
Last year, Morgan Pressel qualified for the U.S. Women's Open. At the time, she was 12.
Aree and Naree Song Wongluekiet played LPGA at the age of 13 and Bobby Convey debuted in Major League Soccer playing with and against full grown men when he was 16.
Ley - If any sport is known for producing young teen professionals, it is tennis.
And joining us now, Andrea Jaeger. She was 14 in the early 1980's when she turned professional and carved out a career that brought her to the number two world ranking with 10 championships and two appearances in Grand Slam finals. She retired at the age of 21 with a shoulder injury.
And she joins us from the Silver Lining Ranch this morning in Aspen, Colorado. Good morning.
Andrea Jaeger, former tennis pro - Good morning.
Ley - It's a familiar discussion and debate - a kid making a living in the adult world. What do you think of Ty Tryon?
Jaeger - Well, I think there's a lot of interesting things to look at.
One, what's so important and it's already been talked about on the show, is that he's earned his place. And that's so important. And when I was turning pro at age 14, I went through pre-qualifying, qualifying -- I ended up winning 13 matches in a row and a pro tournament and then another pro tournament, and then I turned pro. So, I earned that path.
And what's so unique in golf is he'll have to make his card, he'll have to make the cuts. And so, therefore, a lot of it will be dictated if he can earn it and if he can keep up that play.
And so it's a lot different than just joining a team sport and having a contract for 10 years. He'll be out there on the course every time having to prove himself.
Ley - Is there something about the nature of gold that he seems like an incredibly well-grounded young man, and also the nature of the sport, though, that might help him deal with this pressure?
Jaeger - Absolutely. I mean, golf is a sport that people actually do to relax and get away from the rest of the world and their job, and he's able to do that as a profession. And that's so important.
One aspect, though, that I think hasn't really been touched upon is a lot of these athletes, when I turned pro I was 14, but everyone looks at the age that these athletes are turning pro. But what needs to be looked at is what are they doing the 10 years before that. That's where the childhood may be lost.
And in my instance, I chose to do that. I chose to miss. I missed my prom. I missed graduation.
Ley - Did you regret it?
Jaeger - It's interesting, because I work with children with cancer, and we bring kids from all around the world, and in kids in other countries, a lot of times we send medical supplies and we send things that they need, because if you don't show kids certain things, how will they know that they've lost it?
Like, if a child is in Croatia and they have, you know, no toys or nothing, how will they know to miss Disney World if they don't know Disney World exists?
So, in my case, I never went to my prom, I never went to my graduation. My whole peer group growing up my entire childhood was practice and results. So, I don't really think I missed anything because I don't understand what I've missed. I've never had it.
So in that aspect, I think maybe internally there's a part of it that says OK, I didn't have that, let's make sure these kids with cancer get it, because I don't think a child should live without a true essence of your childhood.
Ley - Is the advantage to Ty being able to pursue his dream like that worth what could be the damages to the kids who follow him, who may not be so well adjusted?
Jaeger - Oh, there's definitely factors. And when you hear Ty, I've heard him in interviews and seen a couple of articles about him -- he does seem to be exceptional in a lot of areas, not just on the golf field.
But in any sport and in any life, if your focus is just on that, you're going to lose out on some other areas. Because his focus is playing a sport that he loves, he may lose spiritual or emotional progression. He's going to nurture his raw talent, but what does that do later in life, for you to be a well-rounded individual?
Ley - We'll begin to see on Thursday. Absolutely.
Jaeger - Yeah. And I think the other aspect that's really interesting...
Ley - We've got to go, for time, I wish we had the time.
But, Andrea, thanks so very much for joining us and continued good luck with the Silver Lining Foundation out in Colorado.
Jaeger - Thank you.
Ley - Next, your thoughts on last week's topic of orchestrating records in history in the wake of the disputed sack record in the NFL.
Ley - Nykesha Sales became Connecticut's all time basketball scorer with this pre-arranged and undisputed basket. Last week's topic, the choreography of records, in light of the Michael Strahan/Brett Favre debate.
And a lot of debate in our e-mail in-box. From Indianapolis - "Cynthia Cooper made an excellent point. You can't have it both ways. Nykesha Sales' coach pulled her from numerous games in which they were blowing out the opposition in a show of approved sportsmanship. If he had followed Chuck Foreman's philosophy of 100 percent all the time, he would have left her in a lot longer in some of those blowouts and she would have obliterated the record."
And this observation - "I can't imagine a competitor such as Cynthia stating publicly that staged events are correct and don't effect the game. It appears her philosophy is get close and someone should give it to you. Her actions give us insight into the apparent beliefs of many of today's players - I'm close, I'm entitled."
Well, that program and all our Sunday morning programs are online at ESPN.com, keyword OTL WEEKLY with streaming video and transcripts. And we await your e-mail at OTLWEEKLY@ESPN.com.
Announcer - Outside The Lines is presented by State Farm Insurance. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Ley - SportsCenter in 30 minutes. Much more on the disputed replay in the Pats' game last night. Now, John Saunders and "The Sports Reporters" form the ESPN Zone in Times Square.Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
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