Golf: Cazares gets national shot
Atascocita golfer Thomas Cazares, through his association with The First Tee of Greater Houston, was selected to play in the Nature Valley First Tee Open, a junior golf tournament at Pebble Beach.
Cazares heads to the famous course in California next month. The event runs July 8-10.
"It's huge," Atascocita coach Scott Bryant said.
"His mom kind of forced him to stick with First Tee, because the program is for beginners, but his mom convinced him to stick around and be a mentor, so he stayed involved and helped the little kids out.
"By doing that, as an older person, you get to be a candidate for some of these big events, and this summer — he's about to be a senior - he applied for two huge positions."
He got both.
The second event on Cazares' summer schedule is the PLAYer Advanced Academy, which runs July 20-27 in Richmond, Va., and was tougher to get into than the Nature Valley tourney, Bryant said.
Academy participants come from around the world and have demonstrated exceptional golf and leadership skills. They're nominated by their local First Tee chapters to attend the week-long camp.
The tournament is an official Champions Tour event, pairing 78 junior golfers with 78 professionals, and takes place at Pebble Beach and Del Monte and will be televised nationally on Golf Channel.
"They're out there with big names, even though they're older, and they're getting to play rounds of golf with them, and shoot, take away the big names, they're still getting to play Pebble Beach - five rounds, all-expense paid," Bryant said.
Cazares, 17, has played for Bryant since he was a freshman, Bryant's first season as the golf coach at Atascocita, so he knows Cazares' game well, and has seen its steady growth in high school.
"He's not very long, but his strength is he hits it pretty straight off the tee, doesn't get into a lot of trouble, and he's got really good finesse with the short game," Bryant said.
Cazares was behind only the graduated Logan Boatner and incoming senior Darion Daniels as a junior, a big leap from where he started as a 'B' team freshman. He was sixth or seventh this past season.
Bryant expects him to enter the season at No. 2 and challenge for the top speed. The main thing Cazares needs to work on is his mental game, which stands to benefit greatly from his experiences this summer.
"As Tommy's confidence in himself picks up, he could be fighting for Darion for the No. 1 spot," Bryant said.
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