Kyle Underwood named NC Academy of Sport athlete of the year
MCLEANS Ridges' Kyle Underwood has come a long way from putting plastic golf balls in his grandfather's backyard as a wobbly two-year-old.
The 14-year-old has been awarded the North Coast Academy of Sport Athlete of the Year and, subsequently, the Newton Golf Titleist/FootJoy Scholarship.
Speaking with Kyle at Ballina Golf Club, his regular course, the Emmanuel Anglican College student was excited, but decidedly modest.
"Dad found out and sent me a text yesterday afternoon when I was on the golf course," he said.
"I was a bit surprised when I got it. I know there's a lot of good golfers out there."
Kyle conceded there will be some additional pressure from securing a sponsor, but he's adamant it won't affect his game.
"This is a great step. It means Titleist have got their eyes on me," he said.
"They'll be watching me and seeing how I perform now."
Picking up his first (plastic) club aged two, it seemed Kyle's destiny lay in the gentleman's game.
"So we were in his (grandfather Neville Budd's) backyard with plastic golf clubs and balls and just started hitting them around," he said.
"Didn't go very far, but I started to get into it. Those balls were just like hitting air really.
"I just did it because I enjoyed it. I just love hitting golf balls and never want to stop."
These days, he spends most afternoons training and competes on weekends.
"My school's very supportive and now daylight saving has come I get extra time in the afternoons to train," he said.
"I practice out here most afternoons after school and after games I stay and practice for a bit.
"I hope to become a touring pro someday, but you never know. Something else could happen.
"Being a club pro in America would be pretty good."
Kyle listed his best moment in the sport as "Probably when I broke par and had 69 shots at Wollongong".
His worst came: "When I got close to the lead and got close to the hole and hit the water a few times".
"Some days are good, some bad, but you can't change that. It's all good fun," he said.