Throwback Thursday: Tyler Hall
March 22, 2012
Tyler Hall (Men’s Golf) 1999-2004
Hall came to Lawrence all the way from the Garden State in 1999. After redshirting his first year at KU, the Wayne, N.J. product burst onto the scene and immediately made his presence felt as a member of then head coach Ross Randall’s team. By the end of his senior season, Hall was looked upon as one of the premier golfers at KU. He further turned that perception into reality as he became a professional, during the fall of 2004. Hall’s crowning professional achievement came last summer at the Sleepy Hollow Golf Course in N.Y., where he won the Met Open Championship. Hall currently lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his fiancée Brianna Patterson; the couple will be married this coming April.
So how did a Jersey boy end up at Kansas?
“I used to tell people I followed the Yellow Brick Road. I started playing golf pretty late (in high school). I didn’t really have any experience and I didn’t have much of a résumé. I slowly built that up and had a breakout junior year. The fall of my senior year, my dad came home with a list of Division I universities. I wrote 126 letters and sent them out to anyone I thought would be interested. Of those, I received close to 40 replies. Then I pushed all the letters aside except for the handwritten ones because I felt that if a coach was going to take the time to personally write me back, that’s the kind of program I would be interested in, and Kansas happened to be one of them.”
“On the recruiting trip, Coach (Ross) Randall showed me around the campus. The very last night, I was waiting to fly out and coach (Randall) calls me and says he has one last surprise. He picked me up and drove me right to Allen Fieldhouse. KU was playing K State in a few hours, but he marched me right up to Roy Williams’ office. Roy was just getting ready for the game, but he proceeded to talk to me for a good hour. That really got my attention.”
What are some of your fondest memories during your time in Lawrence?
“Having the opportunity to be a scholarship athlete and attend a program like Kansas was truly a privilege. Once I got to Lawrence, I hit the ground running. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I give myself chills every time I talk to a kid about going to Kansas; just thinking about my experiences and how much fun it was.”
“Coming from New Jersey and not knowing anyone at all, it really helped having the foundation of a team and having my teammates around from day one. They became my best friends and they all seemed to be the same kind of person I was. We had a lot of fun, we worked hard in school and we got to play in some amazing places. It was such an awesome experience.”
What was your relationship like with former KU men’s golf coach Ross Randall?
“It was great learning from someone as great as Ross. He prepared me for my ultimate goal of turning into a professional. It made the whole process fun and exciting, and it gave me the drive to put my head down and make a career out of this. The biggest thing that stands out to me was going into my senior year, when Coach (Randall) said he was looking for me to lead the team and be the No. 1 player. The pressure got so thick that I broke down. I was terrified and after two events of struggling, I begged him to let me just disappear. He took a chance and let me go clear my head and be me. It was pretty unheard of to have a coach have faith in someone to get themselves back on the ground like that. That spring, I went through the qualifying rounds because I had always prided myself in earning things. That whole scenario of what Coach did for me stood out more than any single tournament or finish.”
How was the transition from playing collegiately to becoming a professional?
“After Coach gave me that breather, I wasn’t sure I would pick up a golf club again because I was in such a dark spot. I came out that spring with a renewed sense of determination and took off. I went on an All-American run. After I graduated, I thought I had what it took to compete at a national level in the Amateur Ranks. That summer, I had a breakout summer in the Amateur Ranks and almost won the Western Amateur. By the end of the year, I thought I had what it takes to pursue this. I got a few sponsors together and moved out to Arizona. I found myself in a very comfortable position because I didn’t feel like a complete fish out of water, and I think it’s because of that that I’ve stuck with it for so long and had success with it.”
What does it mean to you to now carry the title of “Jayhawk in the Pros”?
“It’s elite company. We’ve had some amazing players and it seemed like, during my time at school, all the people around me were turning professional. It’s a very difficult thing to do and it’s a hard life to live, but it was great to have that support system. Now, everywhere I go, I have a Titleist bag with a Jayhawk on it, and people asking, ‘Hey, do you know Gary Woodland, or Did you play with Gary Woodland?’ I’m very proud to be a Jayhawk and proud to be associated with the talent that’s gone through here. Even to this day, I’ll be practicing and people will yell out, ‘Rock Chalk.’ It’s a very flattering to be associated with such a great program.”
You recently had a bout of injuries, how hard was it to battle through those to get where you are today?
“Two years ago, I fractured a bone in my left thumb and I had surgery, which took a while to bounce back from. I finally did, but then 16 months ago I tore the labrum in my left shoulder. I went in for surgery a week before Thanksgiving, and then a week later I went in for surgery on my left wrist to have a mass removed from the joint. In the course of a year, I had three surgeries on my left side and I just didn’t know if I would ever be able to find what I used to have, as far as the physical strength in my swing. To battle through those injuries has been a long, painful process. Before the Met Open last year, I was ready to give up golf.”
But you didn’t give up the game and last year, you shot a final round 67 to capture the Met Open Championship title, how gratifying was it to accomplish that after all you had been through?
“Going into that event I actually had called my fiancée and told her that I was done and that I didn’t think I could play golf anymore. Funny enough she was on her way back from her bachelorette to surprise me the day before the Met Open and I had no idea she was coming. She showed up and said, ‘I’m here, don’t withdraw from the tournament because I want to see you play one last time and then you can walk away from it.’ So I told her I wouldn’t withdraw and I went out and pretty much played like it was my last one, because that’s pretty much what I thought it was. In the process I just found myself and found my game again and won it. I’ve been lucky enough to qualify for PGA tour events and Nationwide tour events, but to have won something of that magnitude; it’s one of the most prestigious trophies. Once I got my hands on it, the first four or five names on there are Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen and Tommy Armour, so to have my name cemented on that piece of history has been my crowning moment thus far.”
How long do you see yourself playing professionally?
|“I’ve always said that I would play as long as I have the means to do so and if I continue to believe in myself. After that win (at the Met Open), a few more sponsors came knocking on my door, which opened up more opportunities for me. I’m willing to play as long as it remains fun and I can sustain a living. As long as I have the support of my friends and family, I think I’ll be playing for a long time.”
Throwback Thursday Archive: http://www.kuathletics.com/throwbackthursday.html