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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – On the eve of the AJGA’s Junior Players Championship, a reporter asked a cloud of people waiting out a rainstorm under the porte cochere at TPC Sawgrass if any of them had seen Tommy Morrison, the 17-year-old early commit to Texas who had nearly stolen the title a year ago with a Sunday 67.
“Just look up,” one junior’s parent said with a smile. “He’s pretty hard to miss.”
At 6 feet, 10 inches tall, Morrison does indeed stand out from the crowd. From birth – he weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces despite arriving a couple of weeks early – he’s been a big boy.
“From first grade to now I was always the tallest in my class and everyone told me I should go play football,” Morrison said.
He played a little bit of everything until age 12, including basketball, and was good enough to compete on an AAU travel team coached by former Duke star Mark Alarie. But then, in 2017, Morrison went wire-to-wire to win the boys age 12 division at the U.S. Kids World Championship at Pinehurst Resort.
“On the airplane ride home, he said (of golf), ‘I just love this.’ I saw something different in his eyes,” his mom, Alison recalled. “After that, he didn’t want to go to basketball practice. He wanted to practice golf until dark.”
Tommy Morrison, AJGA Class of 2023, has verbally committed to attend University of Texas. Photo by Adam Schupak/Golfweek
Morrison’s grandfather, a college basketball player and an avid golfer, deserves credit for introducing him to the game. (His great-grandfather was a former catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, among other teams, and also influential in teaching him the mental side of sports and how to play at an elite level.) At age 9, Morrison began working with instructor Bernie Najar, the director of golf at Caves Valley. It was Morrison who made the decision to commit his efforts to golf. Why did the game win out over all others?
“I love the feeling of hitting a good shot and spending time on the golf course,” Morrison said. “I love spending time around the green, possibly too much time. It’s what I do.”
Morrison, a junior in high school, chose wisely. He’s gone on to win the 2020 Southern Junior Championship and was selected to the Rolex Junior All-American team last year. This year, he skipped several junior events to try his hand at the next level of amateur competitions. He hasn’t recorded a top-10 finish since March and as a result his Golfweek Junior Ranking has slipped to No. 20, but the long-term benefits of playing against tougher competition may outweigh the short-term setbacks.
Likewise, he’s elevated his instruction team, adding Jamie Mulligan, who is coach to FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay, as a consultant since the beginning of the year. Morrison, who moved to Frisco, Texas, two years ago, has been traveling frequently to Southern California to be under the tutelage of Mulligan at his home club, Virginia Country Club.
“He’s mature beyond his years not only physically but mentally,” Mulligan said. “When you talk to him, he sounds like a 25-year-old man the way he looks at golf and looks at life. He reminds me of a young John Cook or a Paul Goydos or even a Patrick Cantlay.”
Tommy Morrison, far left, during a practice round ahead of the AJGA Ping Invitational at Karsten Creek (Courtesy Alison Morrison).
Mulligan has evaluated a lot of junior golfers in his day and he hasn’t been wrong too many times. He sees Tour-caliber talent.
“His potential is unlimited,” Mulligan said.
So are Morrison’s ambitions. He dreams of someday being World No. 1. But first things first – finding golf shoes that fit.
“He’s got a size 17 foot and Nike only makes up to 16 in golf shoes,” his mom said. “He has this dream of meeting Michael Jordan some day and asking him to create a golf shoe in his size so he can wear the Jump Man logo.”
Even Morrison’s dreams are oversized.