Kyle's best shot in the US
BALLINA golfer Kyle Underwood is a step closer to a professional career after being accepted into the prestigious Long Island University in New York on a four-year scholarship.
The 18-year-old is one of the best junior golfers to come out of the Northern Rivers in recent years and always looked destined for bigger things.
"I've always wanted to be a professional golfer and this is the best opportunity I have to take my game to the next level,” Underwood said.
"It's a going to be a long time to be away from home but I'm definitely ready for the challenge.
"It's pretty amazing to think that I'm about to go from Ballina to playing regularly all the way over in New York.
"I had an idea about three years ago that I wanted to play college level in the States and we went through a recruitment agency.
"The coach at Long Island University showed a bit of interest and there were some email exchanges, and that's how it came about.
"The college is really well known for high results in its academics and other sports but I'm hoping to help put golf on the map there in the next few years.”
Underwood has had a big year already, having played in the British Open qualifying rounds in Scotland in June.
He made it through to the final qualifying tournament and finished sixth in a field that included 1100 professionals, making it further than any other Australian amateur.
On the home front, he finished Year 12 at Emmanuel Anglican College in Ballina last year and had to sit a separate exam on top of his HSC to gain the scholarship.
He will be doing a Business and Sport Management degree in New York and hopes to do an internship at an NBA or NFL club.
Ballina Golf Club has been there for him from the beginning, with his grandfather Neville Budd first giving him some plastic clubs when he was four years old.
He has had a PGA professional coach in Richard Woodhouse and has played around the country for the past six years with the support of his parents, grandparents and the Ballina club.
"I work in the pro shop and all the members and people here have been really supportive,” Underwood said.
"It's a long way to go and a fair way from home but I'd like to think anything is possible by doing this.”