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How a 16-year-old golf phenom will approach his tournament with the pros

Playing in a Korn Ferry Tour occasion nonetheless feels surreal for Reed Lotter.

It was simply a few weeks in the past when the 16-year-old Savannah Country Day golfer came upon he had acquired a sponsor’s exemption into the area of the Club Car Championship at The Landings Club, which begins Thursday at the Deer Creek Course.

Lotter will step onto the No. 10 tee at 2:30 p.m. in the final group to go off in the first spherical, able to stay his dream and embrace the whole lot that comes with it.

It’s simply one other tournament. Except it isn’t. Lotter is certainly one of simply 13 individuals below 17 years previous to ever play in a Korn Ferry Tour occasion and is simply the fifth in the previous 10 years. He’ll play alongside skilled golfers who journey week in and week out all through the 12 months, a few of whom have received on the PGA Tour.

He has performed a four-day tournament just one different time in his life, and that was not wherever near the Korn Ferry degree.

That’s the problem dealing with Lotter this week: tips on how to deal with this as one other tournament when it’s something however.

“The way I look at it, I still have to hit a round ball and get it into the hole,” Lotter mentioned. “It’s an unbelievable experience, but I’ve been given this experience, and I still have to come out and play like it’s another golf tournament.”

No matter what occurs this week, Lotter is aware of he desires to play sometime on the PGA Tour, and he’ll have a lot to glean from enjoying in the Club Car Championship — from tips on how to put together to tips on how to conduct himself throughout the tournament to tips on how to deal with the media highlight.

Getting ready

In October, Lotter performed in the Billy Horschel Junior Championship, an AJGA occasion held on Fleming Island, Florida. Reed’s father, Chris Lotter, recalled how Horschel gave a speech to every of the individuals about what they might count on in the event that they ever hoped to show professional in the future, and what they should begin doing now to make that occur. He mentioned younger golfers need to deal with three issues: golf, social life and teachers, and somebody can solely be good at two of these issues.

“I always ask him, ‘Do you like that?’ ” Chris Lotter mentioned. “Is that something you want to do? It’s hard work. You wake up at 5:30 in the morning and go to the gym, then you go to the course and warm up. You eat, come back and practice again, then you go play, go to an early dinner, go to bed early. It’s a job. There are times when you don’t go to a prom or some social event that you want to do.”

Savannah Country Day golfer Reed Lotter will be enjoying with the pros in Club Car Championship later this week at the Landings Club. (Savannah Morning News)

It’s a life-style that Reed Lotter is already embracing. He wakes up early every morning and goes for a run and works out earlier than beginning his faculty day, then he will get in as a lot follow at the vary as he can earlier than he does homework and goes to mattress.

Chris Lotter mentioned he by no means needed to instill any type of self-discipline for Reed to develop this routine. It has at all times come naturally to him.

“He always loved the game,” Chris Lotter mentioned. “It wasn’t anything for him to have to go to the course and practice for hours. I didn’t have to ask him, ‘Hey did you practice today?’ ”

Lotter has loads of individuals to go to for recommendation about tips on how to play in a skilled tournament. He is pals with Savannah native and resident Tim O’Neal (additionally enjoying in the Club Car Championship), has robust relationships with The Landings’ skilled workers, and works on his swing with Savannah Harbor director of golf instruction Andrew Rice.

Rice mentioned he isn’t shocked to see Lotter in the Club Car area this 12 months. Lotter virtually made it in October, when the 2020 occasion was held, after falling one stroke wanting making a playoff in the Monday qualifier.

“He’s truly a joy,” Rice mentioned. “He gets up early and works out before he goes to school. He loves the challenge of the game. He knows how to work hard at everything he does. He’s always shown a passion for the game. He loves golf so much, he cannot go a day without doing anything to further grow his golf game.”

Staying optimistic

Preparation can solely go to this point. Some issues can solely be dealt with via expertise, and touchdown in a troublesome state of affairs throughout the tournament could also be certainly one of them.

“As long as I feel prepared on that first tee, like I couldn’t have done anything more, then I’ve got to live with the results,” Reed Lotter mentioned. “My only goal is to stay positive through the whole thing. I know there’s going to be some doubts and gremlins that come in, but if I can keep positive thoughts going through my mind, I know this course better than anybody, so I think that’s going to be key to me.”

Lotter mentioned shaking off a dangerous shot or a dangerous gap can generally be a wrestle for him, however certainly one of the gamers he seems as much as in that space is Rickie Fowler and the manner he goes about his enterprise, capable of put every shot behind him and transfer onto the subsequent one.

Savannah Country Day golfer Reed Lotter reacts after his chip shot finds the cup throughout the Club Car Championship Pros vs Pros Challenge Monday at the Landings Club Deer Creek Course. (Savannah Morning News)

The excellent news is, if Lotter does wind up in a tight spot, he’ll have somebody standing subsequent to him to go to for recommendation. Phil Haug, a Landings resident who usually performs with Reed, will be his caddie.

“It’s going to be a nice comfort,” Lotter mentioned. “Not only are you looking for a caddie who knows how to read greens and give yardages and carry the bag, you want someone who in stressful situations you can talk it through, and he’s going to give you the best advice to hit the shot. I’ve played a lot of golf with Phil. He knows how far I carry my clubs because he’s about the same distance as me. And he knows me as a person, too.”

Haug, a 40-year-old regional supervisor for an insurance coverage firm, had deliberate on making an attempt to get into the Club Car Championship via the Monday qualifier, however he backed out when he heard Reed had acquired his exemption. He approached him on the vary in the future and requested if wanted a caddie, Haug mentioned.

“I’m more honored to have the opportunity to be a part of it,” Haug mentioned. “I don’t think he’s going to need (much advice) because mentally he’s wise beyond his years the way he approaches the game. Having a friendly face will help, but mentally and physically he’s ready.”

Handling the highlight

Thanks largely resulting from junior excursions like the American Junior Golf Association and the rise of younger gamers ascending to stardom, Lotter is rising up in an age of golf through which the greatest junior golfers get loads of protection from the media. Golf writers and analysts are at all times on the lookout for the subsequent Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth or Rory McIllroy.

The Rolex AJGA rankings at the moment has Lotter as the No. 154th ranked junior participant in the world, and he’s being recruited by a few of the high school golf applications in the nation. But Rice mentioned it doesn’t matter a lot the place Lotter is ranked now, and that’s the greatest cause for Lotter to take pleasure in the second and study what he can from the expertise.

“I’ve said to him for a long time, you don’t want to be the best 15-year-old golfer in the world,” Rice mentioned. “You want to be the best 25-year-old golfer in the world. That works out much better.”

Lotter isn’t afraid of any of the consideration. In truth, he thinks it makes him a higher participant.

“The good thing about it is, it prepares you,” Lotter mentioned. “If you look at (Jordan) Spieth, and Rory (McIllroy), some of those big names, they’re so good when they’re under the mic. They’re trained. It helps you learn how to talk in front of people. That’s part of it. You kind of have to just embrace it.”

And in relation to the gallery, the greater the higher, Lotter mentioned. He expects to have the largest following he’s ever performed in entrance of this week.

Savannah Country Day golfer Reed Lotter will get some follow in at the Landings Marshwood course as he prepares for the Club Car Championship later this week.
(Savannah Morning News)

“I feel like I thrive when there’s people watching,” he mentioned. “I just focus more. Instead of intimidating, I kinda like it. I don’t want to play bad, so much to the point that it makes me play better. I’m just a little bit sharper.”

Lotter additionally owned the Deer Creek course file of 63, which he carded at age 14, till October when Julian Etulain shot a 62 in what was then often called the Savannah Golf Championship.

With a house crowd on his house course, it might appear Lotter has a lot going for him coming into Thursday. But he received’t know something for sure till he steps onto the No. 10 tee.

“You don’t want to set the bar too high, but I think for the first day my expectations are to just feel it out, embrace that you’re in this, and not let it get to your head and just take it one shot at a time,” Lotter mentioned. “If I’m right there with the leaders, that’s great, but if I miss the cut and bomb it, I’m going to learn from it.”

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