In 2016, I was selected as a finalist for the Ben Hogan Award. That was my junior year at the University of Texas. I won six college tournaments and only finished outside the top 10 once during the season. Needless to say, it was a breakout year. Looking back, it’s even more eye opening than when I first accomplished it.
I was fortunate to grow up in Southern California where the weather cooperates for golf about 360 days a year. Also, the competition at the junior level was as strong as anywhere in the country, and so I was able to get a strong evaluation of where I stood to my competition at any given age. Then going to Texas allowed me the opportunity to expand my repertoire of skills to a whole new level. Playing golf courses with Bermuda grass, more severe weather, and against arguably the strongest day-to-day competition of any team in the country was a whole new challenge.
I enjoyed every minute of college. With that said, it sure wasn’t a walk in the park. I had to earn every spot in the lineup, and it was a struggle to be the best player on the team. Balancing an undergrad business track, maintaining a social life, and getting all of the necessary practice and preparation to be successful on the course was a full plate. Luckily, I have always been beyond fortunate to have the support team that I have. From my parents and family, to coaches and mentors, I have been blessed to be around people who have my best interest in mind. There is no way I could be where I am today without their tireless efforts. Their support and my hard work was validated when it was announced that I was a Ben Hogan Award finalist.
When I arrived at Colonial Country Club for the Ben Hogan Award reception, seeing the list of past finalists and winners of the Ben Hogan Award was eye opening. It’s been a “who’s who” of the PGA TOUR for the past few decades. To be considered in that same company is an honor. The evening itself was a magical experience. Being alongside fellow finalists Maverick McNealy and Jon Rahm at the award dinner was a pleasure. They’re both outstanding golfers and enjoyable people to be around and I have tremendous respect for both of them.
The nomination as a finalist was a strong validation for how I saw myself at the time: the best amateur in golf. It proved to me that I was on the right track to getting on the TOUR and accomplishing things that I’ve dreamed about since age 10. It gave me the confidence that I could put together a strong career and become the best in the world at the highest level in the future. I’m beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to be in Fort Worth, and for everyone who made the night so special for all parties involved.
Coincidentally, one of my sponsors, Konica Minolta, is also the presenting sponsor of the Ben Hogan Award, and as such ensures that this special evening is possible—providing more future golf stars to experience the same validation, pride, and honor I experienced as a finalist. In golf, sponsorship is massively important – essentially crucial to success. Organizations like Friends of Golf (that established the Ben Hogan Award), golfers, and the PGA TOUR itself couldn’t survive without support from their sponsors. Konica Minolta is an organization known for excellence in their industry and giving back to the community, and I’m proud to wear their logo on my sleeve.
In golf, you’re always looking forward to your next shot, the next tournament, and your next opportunity to cement your place among golf’s greatest legends. With hard work and dedication and the support of my loved ones, I know, like Konica Minolta, I’ll always be pushing towards constant improvement and success in the future.