Mr. 57: Davidson golfer Alex Ross recounts magical round

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Mr. 57: Davidson golfer Alex Ross recounts magical round

Amateur

Mr. 57: Davidson golfer Alex Ross recounts magical round

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Davidson coach Tim Straub knew Alex Ross was playing at the Dogwood Invitational but hadn’t followed the action closely until another coach sent him a text asking if there was some sort of mistake with the online leaderboard.

Straub checked the scoring. He then texted Ross’ mother, who was at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta, to confirm the eye-popping score.

“And that’s when I was like, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” Straub said.

Ross’ mother wasn’t kidding. Neither was the leaderboard. At that point, Ross was 12 under through 13 holes at Druid Hills, well on his way to a record-breaking 15-under 57 in the amateur tournament. He shot 9-under 27 on the back nine, on which he started the round before turning to the front.

For Ross, a 20-year-old who will be a junior this fall, the 13 birdies and one eagle in his third round June 6 instills confidence as he gears up for a summer full of amateur events before returning as one of Davidson’s top players in the fall. He hopes the 57 — which broke the course record by three strokes — is a sign of what’s to come.

“Well, a 56 wouldn’t hurt, huh?” Ross said with a laugh. “Moving forward though, this is kind of good because I showed that I know how to take it super low. And hopefully I can put it all together in the future and build off this.”

Ross put together an impressive freshman campaign, finishing second on his team with a 74.55 stroke average during the Wildcats’ run to a conference championship. He earned Atlantic 10 Conference rookie of the year honors and tied for 21st at the NCAA Raleigh Regional. As a sophomore, he lowered his stroke average to 73.03 and was named to the Atlantic 10 all-conference team.

An Atlanta native, Ross had played the Druid Hills course before. He missed qualifying for the Dogwood Invitational by a shot last year, but the experience helped Ross navigate the greens this time around.

On June 6, with severe weather in the forecast, officials decided players would play 36 holes Thursday. Ross was used to playing 36-hole days in college, but he thought he had an hour between his rounds. However, after he signed his card from the first 18 at the scorer’s table, officials told him his group would tee off again in 15 minutes.

“It was a bit hectic,” Ross said. “I ran into player dining, kind of wolfed down some food and headed back out.”

From there, though, his drives found fairways, his irons found greens and his putts found the bottom of cups on the par-72, 6,836-yard layout. After shooting 75-73 in the first two rounds of the Dogwood, Ross thought he needed a 63 to make the 54-hole cut. Instead, he flew into a tie for sixth with his 57, a stunning 16-shot swing from his morning round.

‘I kind of had a lot pumping through me’

At 13 under on the seventh hole — Ross’ 16th of the third round — he faced an imposing approach from 188 yards, uphill and into the wind. He went for  the 7-iron.

“Under normal circumstances, no shot that gets there,” Ross said. “But I kind of had a lot pumping through me.”

His shot landed about 10 feet from the pin, and while he missed the eagle putt, he tapped in for another birdie. He ultimately tied for 11th with a 70 in his final round.

His coach characterizes Ross as an accurate player who hits his irons solidly.

But even Straub, who sees Ross play all the time, was shocked by the 57 at Druid Hills.

After Ross finished his spectacular round, he saw the usually even-keeled Straub had sent off an excited text to the team’s group chat. On the phone with his coach later that afternoon, Ross said Straub was ecstatic.

“You know, 63, 64, 62, you think is just amazing. But a 57 is just unheard of, actually,” Straub said. “He can go low when he starts making some putts, and obviously, he made a lot of putts.”

A look at Alex Ross’ round.

In 2010, 17-year-old Bobby Wyatt shot a 57 in the Alabama Boys State Junior Championship. Jim Furyk holds the PGA Tour record with a 12-under 58 shot during the 2016 Travelers Championship.

Before Ross’ 57, he said his proudest individual achievement may have been a hole-in-one he made as an 8-year-old.

“I was still kind of riding the high off that,” said Ross, who had started playing the game at 7.

Now, though, Ross has a new crowning achievement, one he hopes can build momentum heading into next season as he looks to pick up the slack after four of his Davidson teammates graduated. If he keeps progressing, finding greater consistency with his short game and putting, the collegiate track may one day yield to the professional circuit.

And his 57 at the Dogwood Invitational certainly put him on the map.

“He’s got all the physical ability,” Straub said. “I think the sky’s the limit. He’s got big aspirations, so I think he’s going to push himself, too. And I think this just helps him build his confidence and shows him what he can do.”  Gwk

(Note: The story appears in the July 2019 issue of Golfweek.)

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