This week, two West Portsmouth golfers were named “Player of the Year” in their respective age divisions in the Tri-State Junior Golf Tour. Twelve-year-old Brynden Roark was awarded the honor in the 10-12 Division, while 15-year-old Jordan Tieman took top spot in the 13-15 Division.
For Roark, this is his second straight player of the year award in his third year of competing on the Tour. He picked up the sport when his grandfather took him to Shawnee State Golf Course, where he works. Since then, the sport has been Roark’s favorite.
With a low 18-hole score of 79 and a handicap of 16, the Portsmouth West Middle School student has developed a mean short game. After playing nine holes on Tuesday, Roark said he went the entire round without three-putting. He estimates that the longest putt he’s made was around 90 feet.
After wrapping up Player of the Year honors after just five tournaments this year, Roark’s grandfather encouraged him to move up the 13-15 year old division to practice for next season. Though he knows he has work to do, he was happy with his performance in the tougher division.
“For my first time, I played pretty good,” Roark said.
Roark tried to model his game after his favorite golfer, Jordan Speith. At just 20 years old, Speith is one of the youngest players on the PGA Tour. It’s only fitting that 12-year-old Roark would look up to the young Texan.
“I like that he likes Under Armour and he got into the PGA at 18,” Roark said.
Tieman, a rising sophomore at West High School, has been a natural golfer his entire life. When he was just one-and-a-half years old, he picked up a golf club on his own for the first time.
“I would just take the club out and swing it around the house,” Tieman said.
It may have taken him four or five years to bring his golf game to the course, but he hasn’t looked back since. Tieman has an 18-hole low score of 67, and shot a 69 this year in a Tri-State Junior Golf Tour event at The Elks Country Club.
“I knew I had a pretty good score going, but I wasn’t trying to think about it,” he said of his performance at The Elks. “I just hitting all the shots like I was supposed to, and I just got on a roll.”
Tieman feels the greatest asset to his game is his driver. According to him, his tee shots can range anywhere from 280-300 yards. Though he has yet to reach the green on a par 4 in one swing, he says he’s come close.
Like Roark, Tieman considers Jordan Speith to be his favorite golfer. He hopes to follow a similar career path and qualify for the PGA Tour at the young age of 19. But before that, he has some other goals to accomplish, including leading the West golf team to a district tournament appearance this fall. However, more importantly he has his sights set on his old man.
“I want to beat my Dad’s record, which is 64,” he said. With his personal record just three shots away, it won’t be long before he passes his father.
“I’m close,” he said.
Alex Hider can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter