Sky is the Limit for GSU Golf Alum
STATESBORO, Ga. -- Aron Price was the guy to beat during his collegiate career at Georgia Southern, receiving Southern Conference Freshman of the Year honors, being named the league’s best golfer his junior year, and finishing among the top 10 at the NCAA Championships as a senior.
“He brought that standard of excellence into every tournament you went to,” said Price’s former head coach Larry Mays, who continues to maintain contact with his former pupil. “Each tournament you talked about the player to beat, and that was him. He not only elevated himself, but his teammates as well. Everyone got better.”
In three-and-a-half years at Georgia Southern, the Sydney, Australia native garnered 12 individual tournament titles, including seven collegiate medals and five on the amateur circuit, while also helping the Eagles win three team championships with the program’s first of two Southern Conference titles coming in 2003.
He was a Golf Coaches Association of America Ping Third Team All-American his junior year and, as a senior, was named to the GCAA Ping All-America First Team after finishing tied for seventh at the NCAA Championships, shooting a 3-over 283, seven strokes behind the winner.
Along the collegiate journey, Price accumulated an abundance of experiences, each one strengthening his ties to his alma mater.
“I had so many good memories here,” said Price. “In the end I was just so glad I came because the community is a college community. All the people love the college and they follow it so much that you have so much support outside of just your college friends. I thought that was awesome. I’m not used to that.”
“I’m from Sydney, and in Sydney, you’re sort of off on your own and nobody knows you.”
No less did his experiences on the links provide wisdom and fuel for the future.
“On the course, my greatest memory is probably the NCAA tournament because I knew it would be my final tournament. We played well, we finished 13th, we had a great team and it was a great course up at Cave Valley (Baltimore, Md.).
“But it’s hard to pinpoint one for golf; I had so many good memories here. It was a relaxed community and a relaxed atmosphere.”
But after turning pro upon graduation, new challenges emerged onto the horizon.
Price now finds himself competing against not only the best golfers in the US, but also a field of competition that spans the globe with the same goal in mind.
Price’s goal: “Just to play on the PGA Tour every year.”
“There’s no set amount of time,” added Price. “So I think when I get into a position, there’s no reason why I couldn’t win a tournament in the next three or four years. And once you get out there, you sort of fall on your feet, and sort of get in your comfort zone and you feel comfortable out there. If you feel comfortable it’s going to feel like your playing a miniature event. It’s all how you perceive it and how comfortable you are.”
But Price knows he has to pay his dues.
For the past two years since turning pro, he’s competed in the European and Nationwide tours. Currently ranked No. 14 (May 8) in the Nationwide tour money list, Price hopes to qualify for the PGA tour in the next three or four years.
On the European circuit, he competed at the Johnnie Walker Classic at Blue Canyon C.C. in Phuket, Thailand, March 4. There he finished tied for 16th place among a strong field of the world’s top golfers close by the likes of Retief Goosen, Mike Weir, Ernie Els, and Colin Montgomerie, while finishing one stroke better than Adam Scott, who currently holds the No. 4 spot in the World Golf Rankings (May 6).
“It was good to be playing against them,” said Price. “I just wanted to not focus on them, but focus on my game; think about process, rather than outcome; think about what I’ve got to do, and that I can compete with the best not day in and day out, but hopefully soon. But on my day, if Ernie Els isn’t playing well and I am playing well, then I’m going to beat him. That’s just the nature of golf.”
For Price, it’s just as much mental skill as it is physical.
“I’m almost trying to use reverse psychology. When I was playing good I was trying to think, Well, this doesn’t even count as a Nationwide event. This doesn’t even matter.’ Sure it did matter, but I was trying to psyche myself out of it and keep myself down and calm. But that’s probably the best I’ve ever hit the ball. I felt pretty good. I felt more comfortable than I did at Livermore (Apr. 1).”
One month later, Price finished tied for second at the Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship in California, one of the toughest events in Nationwide tour history. He trailed the leader by just two strokes at the end of the tournament with a 2-over 290.
Rubbing shoulders with the top-notch caliber of players, Price finds himself comparing his game to that of the competition.
“I definitely do,” said Price. “But there are so many different ways to get it done. There are so many different guys who are so much better than me who never even made it to the Nationwide. Its pretty much the space between your ears is where it’s played.”
The future looks bright for Price, but he will not soon forget his beginnings in the land down under.
Price is a pioneer of sorts. At the age of 12 his grandparents first put a golf club and ball in his hands. He quickly developed his skills and soon found himself attending the prestigious Australian Institute of Sport.
By the end of 2001, he started looking at going to college in the US and quickly turned to acquaintances to get his foot in the door.
He had some friends from Australia and New Zealand who had already migrated to the US to play college golf, including Brett Folkes, who was sporting the GSU blue and gold at the time.
“Brett said there was a spot that opened up and a scholarship was available here, so if you want to come in January’ because I was finishing in December at the Academy you can come here and see how it goes.’ So I said: perfect, I’m sold.’”
Coach Mays heard great things about Price and eventually signed him sight unseen.
“It was awesome because Brett showed me the ropes, he showed me what to do, what not to say,” added Price. “So that was a big part of me being here. I’m not sure if I would have ended up here if it wasn’t for him.
Price is the first in his family to play golf at the collegiate level.
Now almost 13 years since turning his childhood pastime into a profession, Price has proven he’s on the right course.
“If you can win a Nationwide event you can definitely win a PGA tour event. And the guys on the PGA tour will tell you that,” said Price. “It’s just consistently getting out there and feeling comfortable against the best in the world... Hopefully, if I can just get better and better every year although I’m a very impatient person at the end of the day, if I’m progressing every year, I’m going to get to where I want to be.
Years at Georgia Southern: 2002-2005
Education: BS in Sport Management (2005)
Birth Date: 6 May 1982
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
Residence: Sydney, Australia and Jacksonville, Fla.
Turned Pro: 2005
Highlights while a GSU student-athlete:
Team & Individual
◊ 2005 Honors & Achievements→ T-7th NCAA Championships→ 1st Courtyard by Marriott Intercollegiate (NC State)→ 1st Hyatt Plantation Intercollegiate (Georgia State)→ 1st Ashworth Collegiate (Southern Cal)◊ 2004→ 1st Coca-Cola Collegiate (Tennessee)→ 1st Western Amateur Medal→ 1st Players Amateur→ 1st Rice Planters Amateur→ 1st US Amateur Sectional Qualifying◊ 2003→ Team finished 1st at Southern Conference (Forest Heights CC)→ 1st Coca-Cola Collegiate (Tennessee)→ 1st Pacific Invitational (Pacific)→ Team finished 1st at Pacific Invitational (Pacific)→ 1st Kiawah Island Intercollegiate (College of Charleston)→ 1st Western Amateur Medal◊ 2002→ Team finished 1st at Ron Smith/USF Invitational (South Florida)◊ 2005 Ben Hogan Award finalist
◊ 2004-05 GCAA Ping 1st Team All-American
◊ 2004-05 All-Southern Conference 1st Team
◊ 2004 US Amateur Sweet 16 Finalist
◊ 2003-04 GCAA Ping 3rd Team All-American
◊ 2003-04 Southern Conference Player of the Year
◊ 2003-04 All-Southern Conference 1st Team
◊ 2002-03 All-Southern Conference 1st Team
◊ 2001-02 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year
- Category: Golf
- Published on Wednesday, 09 May 2007 00:21