AUGUSTA, Ga. – Two years ago, Dylan Meyer won the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational in his first college start as a freshman. He expected the next victory to follow in no time.
He was wrong. During his freshman and sophomore seasons, Meyer still developed into one of college golf’s best players. Last summer, he won the Western Amateur and made a spirited run deep into match play at the U.S. Amateur before falling to local boy Nick Carlson in the quarterfinals.
But Meyer just couldn’t crack the winner’s circle in college – that is, until Sunday.
“I didn’t know it would take this long, but I knew it was coming,” said Meyer, who opened the 3M Augusta Invitational with rounds of 67-66 and then held on with a final-round even-par 72 to post a one-shot victory at 11 under.
Meyer has grown a lot since that victory two years ago at Olympia Fields. He has previously called his young self, at times, “a punk.” The older, more mature Meyer was the one who shows up to the golf course on most days now, including Sunday.
Meyer didn’t have his best stuff, but he got the job done. He made just two birdies, but also limited the damage with two bogeys. He made a big par putt on the par-3 16th to help him hold off a charging freshman from UCF named Bobby Bai and stay ahead of established junior Will Zalatoris of Wake Forest. (Zalatoris and Bai finished T-2 at 10 under.)
“My mindset is evolving to where I’m not being as emotional,” said Meyer, who now tries to use moments where he gets fired up positively instead of negatively. “Today was a good way to test my mental stamina because I didn’t hit it great, but I kind of stuck through it. If I did what I used to do then I wouldn’t be in this position.”
Meyer’s victory not only earned him some nice hardware; it also awarded him his first PGA Tour start. Meyer will receive a sponsor exemption to play next spring’s Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Fla.
“It shows the hard work that I’ve put in through all I’ve gone through in college,” Meyer said. “I’ve always wanted the chance to play (a professional event), some things just haven’t worked out, whether I haven’t qualified or I haven’t been able to get exemptions. This one I played my way into it, so it’s nice to have it that way.”
Meyer will ask teammate and fellow junior Nick Hardy for some advice once his Tour start gets closer. Hardy has already played in two U.S. Opens, making one cut.
“I’m going to talk to him and ask him how he goes about his practice rounds,” Meyer said. “Being out there and seeing those guys and instead of being starstruck, (I want to know) how you go ahead and take care of your business so you can play your best.”