When David Lawrence steps on the first tee to begin a round of golf, his mind finds a new gear that he insists he never before had.|
"Every time I tee it up, I feel I have a chance to win," said Lawrence.
That mentality helped the former Moline High School prep finish his collegiate career at Eastern Illinois University on a high note. In the fall portion of his season, he won two tournaments. He capped his senior season two weeks ago with a second-place individual finish in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. He left his mark on the tournament, too, posting a final-round 3-under 69 at the 6,959-yard GreyStone Golf Course just outside of Nashville, Tenn. That left him at 3-under for the tournament after opening with rounds of 71 and 73.
That was also the best individual finish by a Panther at the OVC Meet in school history, and his fourth top-two finish of his senior season automatically earned him all-tournament team honors. Prior to the season-ending event, he was named First Team All-OVC by virtue of having the best season-long scoring average (72.2).
"My only goal going in was to win the conference," said Lawrence, a bit dejected by his runner-up finish. "I really put myself in a tough position after the first two rounds. I was hitting it well enough, but just didn't get anything out of it. Going into the final round, being seven shots back, I knew I had to make a charge. I was able to make that charge on the back nine. That was a lot of fun."
It also marked the end of quite a road the 22-year-old has traveled the past few years.
"I made a total transformation," said Lawrence of his game. "I was very fortunate to get a spot to play at Eastern Illinois, and I can't thank my coach (Mike Moncel) enough for giving me that chance. I was one of the worst players on the Division I level and fighting not to be dead last in every tournament. That first year was kind of a wakeup call that I needed to do something drastic to improve."
A retooling of his swing and approach to the game were just part of his new direction. He said he amped up his physical training and made a mental overhaul that keyed his transformation.
"The biggest difference is my short game," said Lawrence of his on-course game. "My short game was always OK, but now it's to the point to where even if I'm not hitting the ball well, I'm still going to be in contention."
That confidence — inspired by Dr. Bob Rotella tapes — also has him bringing a different approach to the course.
"I used to look at everyone and say 'Wow, they have more talent than I do' and 'I wish I hit the ball as far as he does,'" said Lawrence. "Now, I step onto the tee and I love my own game."
It's a game that Lawrence hopes takes him to the next level in the near future. He said he plans on playing an extensive schedule of amateur events. Among those will be a number of Quad City Amateur Tour events in hopes of earning that group's spot in the PGA Tour John Deere Classic qualifier. He also is hoping to play in the U.S. Amateur Championship.
After that, it's turning pro and chasing his dream — even probably playing at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament in the fall.
"Things have come quicker than I expected," said Lawrence. "I'm prepared to go to (Florida) and play the mini-tours and work hard on my game. I've never been able to practice for an entire year — always having the winter to contend with. I feel I have a lot of room for improvement."
But he feels as if he's ready for that shot — both with his clubs and with his education (a marketing degree from EIU) to market himself and make this a viable venture.
"I feel like I'm much closer than I ever have been in the past," he said. "It's always been a dream of mine to play professional golf. But now, I feel like it's actually realistic."
The self-called late bloomer feels as if his best golf is still ahead of him, too. He knows first-hand that you can't give up on any dream.
"It's hard to put time limits on things," he said. "In four years, I went from one of the worst high-school players to one of the best. In four years, I went from being one of the worst college players to being one of the best. Realistically in four years, I see myself out there playing well."
Where he will be playing, though, is still to be determined.
Moline, IL Details
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