Alabama native Wyatt chose golf over football early

USA's Bobby Wyatt with his caddie Kurt Sohn at No. 16 during the 2013 Walker Cup at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.

USA's Bobby Wyatt with his caddie Kurt Sohn at No. 16 during the 2013 Walker Cup at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.

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SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – So, is he the only young man in Alabama who isn’t a football player? Bobby Wyatt laughed when asked.

“Guess so. I’m one of them, anyway,” he said.

Not that it was always this way. Way back in sixth grade, for instance, he was a tight end for his school team. Again, he laughed.

“But I lasted no time. Half a year,” he said. “I think you could tell I had no future in football. I wasn’t the fastest guy around.”

True to the passion of his beloved home state, however, Wyatt is a massive ‘Bama loyalist, as are his parents, and just about every member of his family. “I’ve watched every game every Saturday my whole life,” Wyatt said. “It’s a staple on Saturdays in the fall.”

Not this Saturday, however. It’s an off week for the Tide – “A&M next week,” Wyatt said with a smile – and so perhaps that can shift Alabama’s sporting interest toward this majestic piece of seaside real estate called The National Golf Links of America. After all, four golfers tied to the University of Alabama golf team will be on stage in the opening day of the 44th Walker Cup Match between the United States and Great Britain & Ireland.

But whereas three of them – Justin Thomas, who will leave to turn pro; Cory Whitsett, a senior-to-be; and Gavin Moynihan, an incoming freshman – are imported talents from Kentucky, Houston and Ireland, Wyatt is the true-to-the-bone ‘Bama kid, born and raised in Mobile.

That point was emphasized during a practice round Thursday when President George W. Bush played four practice holes with members of Team USA and talked up Mobile with Wyatt. “We have mutual friends with him and the First Lady,” Wyatt said. “They are very good friends with family friends of ours and we talked about that.”

But unlike so many who call Alabama home, Wyatt didn’t immerse himself in playing football. “My father (Cliff) was a golfer and that’s what I always did,” he said. “It’s the path I chose.”

It has been a trail well blazed, too, from the still memorable round of 57 that he shot at the Country Club of Mobile to a string of impressive accomplishments while playing for coach Jay Seawell. Having been medalist at the 2012 U.S. Amateur where he advanced to the Round of 16, Wyatt made it to the Round of 32 last month at The Country Club and in between he was a first team NCAA All-America.

His 6-and-5 singles win having helped ‘Bama win the NCAA title, Wyatt will be back for one more year and clearly this decision to choose golf over the state’s official pastime, football, has never produced any regrets. Hard to argue that Wyatt isn’t on a path for professional golf, an assessment that was met with a nod of the head from a reputable source, veteran caddie Kurt Sohn.

A former wideout with the New York Jets, Sohn caddies at “The National” and has drawn Wyatt’s bag for the week. It’s an assignment he’s looking forward to.

“He’s very solid, very bright,” said Sohn. “He pays attention to details. He’s come out and done his homework on the golf course and he’s very comfortable on the golf course - or as comfortable as you can be at The National.”

During their practice rounds, Wyatt and Sohn have been able to make a connection in regards to University of Alabama football. Wyatt is a true fan, of course, while Sohn once caught passes thrown by Jets quarterback Richard Todd, a onetime Crimson Tide standout. Not that Wyatt remember Todd – “He was my parents’ age,” he said – but he is good friends with Richard Todd’s son, Gator, who plays the minitours, and daughter, Darbi Lou.

But their mutual football concerns put aside, Wyatt and Sohn will focus on the golf for the next few days. It will come early Saturday for both, as Wyatt and Whitsett have drawn the opening foursomes match against Nathan Kimsey and Max Orrin of Team GB&I.

If the chance to give the U.S. a rousing morning start is an honor, it will be doubled in the afternoon when Wyatt draws Neil Raymond in the first of eight singles matches.

So it will be a full day of golf, though ‘Bama born and raised, Wyatt knows football will soon enough be part of his lifestyle. Crimson Tide games are a must-attend.

“Every one I can get to, and some of the road ones, if I can get there,” Wyatt said.

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