Maybe some day in the not too distant future, Davis Bryant will hear the roar of the crowd for his rapidly blossoming golf game.
For now, the Eaglecrest High School sophomore-to-be turns to baseball when he’s looking for the rush of applause and the backing of the masses, something he doesn’t generally get on the golf course.
A departure from today’s overwhelming majority of prep athletes specializing in just one sport, Bryant plays two sports and plans to stick with both all the way through his high school career, as he thrives on the balance between individual and team sports he’s forged.
“I really like the team part of baseball because I can play together with my friends from school,” Bryant said. “Going to the plate and everybody cheering for me is great. I like to be able to do both sports.
“There’s a lot more quiet on the golf course than the baseball field, which is good. I also like the quiet, but I like the loud and when everybody’s rooting for you, too.”
While the diminutive Bryant is a solid, but unspectacular contributor as an infielder and pitcher on the baseball field for Eaglecrest — he played on the freshman team last year — the sky seems to be the limit for him on the golf course.
On the heels of a freshman campaign in which he became the first Eaglecrest boys golfer to qualify for the Class 5A state tournament since 2006 and finished tied for 30th overall, Bryant has grown in stature and confidence, which has paid significant dividends.
“It’s been the best summer based on how I’ve played and how I’ve been hitting the ball,” Bryant said. “This is the most confidence I’ve had in a long time and I’m really believeing in myself.
“I’ve gained probably 20-30 yards of distance since last year, so it’s really nice being able to be closer to green.”
The difference has been noticeable to Bryant’s father, Matt — the general manager and director of golf at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club —who believes his son now “realizes that he belongs with the ‘big boys’” and that he is “believing in himself and his abilities to shoot great scores and do great things on the golf course.”
In Bryant’s biggest tournament of the summer thus far, those gains came up huge.
During his second round of a U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifier at The Fox Hill Club, Bryant hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and forced his way into a three-hole playoff. In his first extra holes since he was 10 years old, Bryant survived and qualified for the prestigious U.S. Junior Amateur July 20-25 at Colleton River Plantation Club in Bluffton, South Carolina.
Subin Lee from Cherry Creek, who Bryant sees in Centennial League play, plus Coby Welch of Valor Christian also earned their way into the U.S. Junior Am, which Bryant will play in instead of going to the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships in Palm Beach Garden, Florida.
“I don’t want to say I didn’t think I could qualify, I just thought it would be really difficult to be in the top three of 71 players,” he said. “I shot a 72 in the first round, which is OK, but I shot a 71 in the second round. I loved the playoff and that was probably my highlight so far.”
The highlights have been plentiful as, Bryant shot a 1-under-par 69 to win the Colorado-Wyoming District Optimist Junior Golf qualifier on June 18 at the Flatirons Golf Course and also received a spot on Colorado’s four-player team headed to the 43rd annual Junior America’s Cup boys tournament July 28-30 at Pine Canyon Club in Flagstaff, Arizona. He’ll join Welch, AJ Ott (Fort Collins) and Jackson Solem (Silver) to represent Colorado against 17 teams from a variety of Western states, Canada and Mexico.
The cherry on top comes Sept. 25-27, as Bryant is one of just 81 players from across the country selected to play in the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in California.
The Pebble Beach course has a special spot in golf lore and though Bryant hasn’t played it yet, he’s seen clips of the course online. He recently watched a YouTube video of Tiger Woods’ performance at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where Woods won by a record-setting 15 strokes.
“Tiger just tore it apart, but it looked so cool to play on that course,” Bryant said. “I’m really looking forward to that. My dad has played there twice and the other two courses out there and he says Pebble Beach is the easiest. It doesn’t look easy on TV.”
Following his whirlwind summer, Bryant returns to focus on his goal of improving on his 30th place finish at last season’s 5A state tournament.
Bryant set a goal for himself of a top-20 finish and didn’t quite reach it, while he’s revised his aim to a top-10 result at the Oct. 5-6 state meet at Fort Collins Country Club.
“My goal for this year is top 10,” Bryant said. “I don’t think the expectations change from last year. I definitely have the game to do it.”
Note: Grandview senior-to-be Morgan Sahm qualified for the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur, being played July 20-25 at Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Sahm is then headed to take part in the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where she’ll be joined by the Regis Jesuit duo of grad Sydney Gillespie and junior-to-be Jaclyn Murray. Mary Weinstein, who also helped the Raiders to a second straight 5A state championship in the spring, qualified for the Optimist, but instead will play in the girls Junior America’s Cup tournament representing Colorado July 28-30 at the Cheyenne Country Club in Wyoming.