2006: Practice turns Hack into contender

Picture a top male junior golfer and a vision leaps to mind: Broad shoulders, 28-inch waist, flies it 300 yards, if a little crooked. In short, a Tiger Woods wannabe.

One of the nation’s hottest young players, Jhared Hack, makes his teacher reach for a comparison that’s as unanticipated as Hack’s rise to prominence has been sudden.

“Jhared’s a steady, unassuming player, but he gets the job done,” says Sean Hogan, who along with David Leadbetter, coaches Hack. “He’s a very confident young man with a quietly competitive nature – sort of a Jeff Maggert type.”

It’s nice to know someone was watching those “I am Jeff Maggert” commercials.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Hack recently has joined the fitness-focused set, with an emphasis on cardio, as well as some light weightlifting and flexibility work. But he remains a delightful throwback in many ways, from his signature bucket hat to an insistence on calling everyone older than him “sir” or “ma’am.” He is a grinder – putting in six or seven hours per day this summer when not in competition – but no range rat, preferring to invent short-game drills and practice mainly on the course. Perhaps most telling, despite his Leadbetter Academy connection, Hack is pretty much the opposite of the silver spoon-fed, coach-reliant teen star.

“He’s a very low maintenance-type junior, which is refreshing,” Hogan says. “For a young player, he does well with a little amount of coaching each month. And he’s a hard worker who takes responsibility for his game.”

Entering his senior year of high school and verbally committed to the University of Central Florida, Hack may be old school, but he has a touch of New Age, too. His mother has convinced him to read positive-thinking books, his favorite of which is “Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting,” by Lynn Grabhorn.

“I’ve never been negative or one to slam clubs or anything,” says Hack, of Heathrow, Fla. “I’d just get a little down on myself when I would make a couple of bogeys at the start. Now I realize that you can make two or three bogeys and it’s still possible to shoot 65.”

Hack sometimes will pretend to be 5-over par when he tees off on the first hole, making a game of trying to work his way back to even. Keeping the

game a game, says Hack, is part of what has made him successful, and kept him passionate.

“Some of the guys I play with don’t look like they’re having fun,” he says. “That’s one thing I’m proud of. I always have fun, even on bad days – everybody has them.”

Those have been few and far between lately for Hack, winner of six tournaments in the last year, more a Woodsian than Maggert-like record.

“I’ve always considered myself a dark horse,” says Hack. “But I think people notice me a bit more now, especially after winning the Western Junior. I feel like that put me in the category of the best players in the country.”

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