BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
WOODS CROSS – Peyton Hastings’ golf career started almost as soon as he got out of diapers.
Since first picking up a golf club at the tender age of four, Hastings’ has won an individual high school golf title and helped the Woods Cross Wildcats golf team win a team title, all in the same season.
Since moving on from the high school ranks, Hastings hasn’t stopped pursuing a golf career that might someday propel him to the PGA Tour. If he does that, he’ll join the likes of other Utahns such as Daniel Summerhays and Mike Weir.
Playing under the American Junior Golf Association, Hastings has posted top 20 finishes in each of his four events this season. His top 5 finish at the Ryan Moore Classic, held recently, propelled his ranking to 185th among his class, and he is in the top 550 among all golfers in the Association.
Challenges in tournaments start with qualification. Fields are limited, so competition is fierce. Furthermore, success in multiple tournaments can be required.
“The level of competition is the biggest difference (between high school and the AJGA),” he said. “High school golf was competitive and Utah has great golf talent, but in the AJGA you’re playing against the best golfers from every state. It really opens your eyes to the level of golf that can be played at this age. I love being out here competing against the best.”
As difficult as it is to play in a tournament, it’s even more difficult to stick around in the Association. The 2013 campaign marks his final season under the AJGA (because the association only goes up to age 18 for the golfer), and therefore the recent Woods Cross High School graduate said he will test his skills in college, and “see what happens from here.”
The work ethic it takes to play golf at a high level is what keeps him sharp during tournaments, he said, and traveling from one tournament to another is just a small piece of what it takes for Hastings to make the most of his opportunities.
“You have to be willing to spend time away from your family and friends,” he said. “It takes a lot of hard work and dedicated practice to become better, but it also takes good physical and mental preparation as well.”
Hasting said he is a Tiger Woods fan due to that man’s drive, work ethic and skill, but said he also enjoys watching Phil Mickelson, a fellow left hander, whenever he can.
“Although I admire Tiger,” he said, “I also enjoy seeing the sportsmanship and creativity which Phil heavily possesses and is known for.”
For now, Hastings plans on playing in the Optimist Tournament, being held later this month in Florida. he has a U.S. Amateur qualifier in his sights as well.
He’s also applied for other AJGA events, but is unsure of which he will play between now and the end of the season.
He has already played in four events, and the association allows for a five “open tournament” maximum.
Although his goals remain lofty at the moment, he said the competition and the drive to improve are some of the biggest reasons he still plays today.
“Ever since I was a kid, competition is what has driven me to be successful,” he said. “I would like to compete on the professional tour, and hopefully be able to move to the highest level at some point.”