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Champ in One

USC College alumnus & PGA Tour hopeful Tom Glissmeyer aims high (and shoots low).

USC College alumnus Tom Glissmeyer will draw on his education as an economics major to manage his promising golf career. Photo credit USC Sports Information.
USC College alumnus Tom Glissmeyer will draw on his education as an economics major to manage his promising golf career. Photo credit USC Sports Information.

As Tom Glissmeyer '09 teed up at the U.S. Open Championship in 2003, he had plenty to be nervous about. This was his first PGA Tour event and, at 16, he was the youngest player in contention. Tiger Woods was one hole ahead of him, Vijay Singh one behind.

Glissmeyer first picked up a club at age six, and by 11 he was competing in youth league tournaments in his native Colorado.

“Golf is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve always been drawn to it for that,” he said.

But nothing yet compared with facing men twice his age — golf greats he grew up admiring. Between the stiff competition and constant media attention, Glissmeyer knew he had entered a whole new world.

“It was overwhelming,” he said. “As much as you think you know at that age, you’re going to be in a little bit over your head.”

He didn’t make the cut that week, but now, six years and a college degree later, Glissmeyer is ready to give Woods and Singh another run for their money.

“I learned so much about myself,” he said of the 2003 U.S. Open. “I can still take a lot away from it today.”

Now 22, Glissmeyer spent the past four years playing for the USC men’s golf team. He was consistently one of the team’s top players, and earned a PING All-American honorable mention in 2008.

He garnered four top 10 finishes in 2009 alone, including a tie for first at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate in March. At the NCAA Championships last month in Ohio, his impressive third-round score of 66 placed him third individually, and helped the Trojans secure a third-place finish overall.

Glissmeyer recognizes how far he has come, both athletically and personally, since his last PGA appearance. For starters, his game is more consistent. During his four years of collegiate play, he has gained ground in technique and discipline. “I’ve really grown in my understanding of the game,” he said.

Key to Glissmeyer’s golf philosophy is a patient and thorough approach. “Playing great golf is a process,” he said, “and not necessarily a quick one.”

While some of his teammates elected to leave college early to turn pro, Glissmeyer decided to complete his degree before making golf a full-time occupation. A USC College economics major, he plans to draw on his business knowledge as he courts sponsors and manages his career — a career that is off to a promising start.

On June 15, Glissmeyer competed against 200 amateurs, all vying for 14 openings in the Fort Smith Classic. The tournament is a stop on the Nationwide Tour, the developmental arm of the PGA Tour. After a tense play-off, he finished the qualifying round with a 4-under-par 67 — clinching his spot in the competition at Hardscrabble Country Club in Fort Smith, Ark.

This success brings him one step closer to his goal: a PGA Tour card. Beginning in September, he will compete in various stages of the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament or “Q-School.” The fourth and final qualification stage is slated for December 2009 in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Glissmeyer plans to be there.

“It’s about how well I can stick with that process of playing well, focusing on taking it one shot at a time, staying in the present and not getting ahead of myself,” he said.

His talent attracted early attention, but it is Glissmeyer’s patience, perspective, and persistence that give him his staying power. As he pursues his dream, this Trojan is confident in his ability and optimistic about the future. “I like my chances this year.”