Flashback Friday: Ty Tryon

The cautionary tale of former teen phenom Ty Tryon


Want to feel old? On June 2, former PGA Tour player Ty Tryon turned 32 years old.

William Augustus Tryon IV was nicknamed “Ty” after Ty Webb from Caddyshack. Ty seemed destined for stardom when legendary swing instructor David Leadbetter said Ty would be “the PGA Tour’s next star.”

After making the cut in the 2001 Honda Classic as a 16-year-old, Tryon promptly turned professional and headed to the vaunted PGA Tour Qualifying School that fall. After breezing through eight rounds of qualifying at the first and second stages, Ty advanced to the brutal final stage: six rounds of pressure-packed golf. The 16-year-old finished T23rd, earning him a full exemption on the PGA Tour. Tryon became the youngest player ever to earn exempt status on the Tour. Sponsors flocked to what seemed like the next Tiger Woods. The future star signed a multi-million-dollar endorsement deal with Callaway and set out to become one of the tour’s elite players.

Well, being a teenager is tough and being one on tour is even tougher. In his rookie year of 2002, the high schooler caught a nasty case of mononucleosis, which cut his season short. Tryon only made one cut in his seven starts.

In 2003, Tryon used the medical exemption he earned from his illness. Yet again, he found little success, earning a dismal $125,875, the 196th spot on the money list, and a ticket to the Nationwide Tour. In his 27 starts as an official PGA Tour member, Tryon had made just 6 cuts, his top finish a T-10 at the 2003 Bay Hill Invitational.

Tryon headed to the Nationwide Tour in 2004 looking to finish in the top 25 and earn back his Tour card. Deflated and searching for the confidence he possessed as a 16-year-old, Tryon struggled mightily, making the cut in just six of his 22 starts. He only took home a grand total of $9,054 on the season. Tryon’s lack of earnings ensured the once-prodigy a stay in pro-golfer purgatory: the mini-tour circuit.

Tyron’s life after tour status has seen only a few flashes of brilliance. In 2005, Tryon won his first professional tournament, the Hooters Tour Winter Series Event, earning him $11,000, more than he had made in his entire 2004 season on the Nationwide Tour. In 2008, he Monday-qualified for the Web.com Tour’s Fort Smith Classic and finished T-37. In 2010, he qualified for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by shooting 64-74 at sectional qualifying and even made the cut at the big event, finishing in a tie for 80th at 23-over-par. He again qualified for the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, but missed the cut by firing rounds of 84-73. Since then, he’s been seen on the Gateway Tour in Scottsdale and Monday qualifiers in Florida. As far as we were able to ascertain, his last professional win came at the Florida Professional Golf Tour’s 2011 Two-Man Best-Ball Team Championship, which netted him a whopping $1,800.00.

Tryon currently resides in Florida with his wife and child. He is still chasing the dream and the game that earned him his tour card in 2001 at the ripe age of 16.

The PGA Tour learned a valuable lesson with Ty Tryon and raised the minimum age of entry to 18. As good as he was, Ty perhaps needed to live a little more life in order to taste the true value of success. One could equate it to winning the lottery after being on welfare. Nowhere to go but down.