PDT Sports Editor
As the summer weather heats up, so does the golf scene. Most local citizens play for leisure and relaxation, but for one local teenager the competitive nature of the sport really fuels the fire.
Mitch McFarland knows a thing or too about competitive golf and his recent tournament performance has him in the hunt for another trophy.
“It’s fulfilling to walk off the 18th green as the winner,” McFarland said.
The Wheelersburg High School standout is competing in the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior tournament at the Bellefonte Country Club in Ashland, Ky. The tournament is an American Junior Golf Association event.
“(To have a chance to win) My goal every tournament is to play bogey free,” McFarland said.
McFarland shot a 77 during the first round on Wednesday, which ranked him in a tie for 71st out of 108 players. On day two, the 15-year-old shot a 70, a par round, which gives him a legitimate shot to win the tournament heading into the final round on Friday.
“I’ve played fairly well,” McFarland said. “I would have liked to play better yesterday but I had a good comeback today. I’ve learned how to comeback (in tournaments). I’m shooting for a 67 (in the final round). “
The AJGA is one of the premiere junior tours in the country. It’s treated much like the PGA tour. Players can only be invited to the tournaments, which is based on different factors such has tournament performance. This is the 30th year for the AJGA tour.
Regardless of the final results, McFarland as loftier goals for himself and his future.
“My goals in golf are to continue improving each and every day,” McFarland said. “I want to improve on my lowest tournament round of 68 and to win an AJGA event soon. I want to play Division I golf at a good academic school and graduate. After graduation, I hope to play on the PGA tour.”
McFarland currently as a 3.5 GPA at Wheelersburg. Aside from his academic achievements, McFarland his preparing for his chance to play golf at the highest level.
His coach, Bob Sowards, is a PGA professional coach. Sowards graduated from Minford High School in 1986.
“He is one of the greatest coaches,” McFarland said. “He has taught me so much. Most of the game is mental. He has taught me to play one shot at a time and to keep a positive attitude, can’t have anger.”
Before he becomes a professional golfer, McFarland is being recruited Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Wake Forest, Michigan, Northern Illinois, Akron and Illinois. The Illini recently won their fifth consecutive Big 10 title and finished runner up in the NCAA tournament this past season.
During 2012, McFarland set several records with the Pirates. He broke the school record for an 18-hole match, set the school record for a nine-hole match and broke the school record for most pars and birdies.
Along with the school records in 2012, McFarland was named Southern Ohio Conference Player of the Year as a freshman and was selected as a first team All-Southeast District member.
McFarland has a list of accomplishments to accompany his love of the game. He his a Golfweek Midwest Tour first year team all Midwest for 2012 and 2013, Golfweek Midwest Junior Tour player of the year champion in 2012, Golfeek Midwest Junior Tour player of the year in 2011, Tri-State Junior Golf Tour player of the year in 2011 and 2012, Junior All-American — Plantations Junior Golf Tour in 2010, and Southeast Ohio District Golf Coaches Tour Player of the year, among many other accomplishments.
McFarlands next golf outings are listed below:
AJGA NRP Open at Bellefonte — June 11-14 in Ashland, Ky.
AJGA Junior All Star at Red Tail — June 17-20 in Avon, Ohio
Ohio Junior at Oasis — June 24-26 in Cincinnati, Ohio
USGA Junior Am at Moundbuilders — July 1 in Newark, Ohio
AJGA Memorial at OSU Scarlet — July 15-18 in Columbus, Ohio
AJGA Stonehenge — July 29 - Aug. 1 in Warsaw, Ind.
Chris can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.