By Roseanna Smith (@AJGASmith)
Brad Dalke has made headlines for more than seven years.
They began in 2010 when he became one of the first (and youngest) to make a verbal commitment to college as a seventh grader.
They continue this week as he comes full circle on a dream to compete in the Masters.
It’s no surprise that the University of Oklahoma sophomore has played his way into the pairings so quickly.
Dalke might be the youngest player in the field at 19, but everything about his golf trajectory was early: he first tested golf at 11 months, played (and won) in his first junior event at age 3, made his first (and final) college commitment at age 12, and at age 13, became the youngest AJGA Invitational winner and third-youngest boys’ winner in AJGA history at that time.
Still, the PGA TOUR’s youth movement favors Dalke’s dreams. Even in Augusta where experience is king, the average age of the five amateurs competing in the Masters is 21.
It’s an interesting turn of events for the five-time, first team Rolex Junior All-American, who shared a few future dreams with Golfweek as a 12-year-old.
“I want to be the Jordan Spieth (of my era),” he said. “I have always looked up to them, and I would love for kids to look up to me when I am 17 or 18.”
The latter goal is materializing in a big way this week as golf’s next generation of new fans watch the amateur every step of the way. They’ve already seen him play practice rounds with Spieth, Bubba Watson, Steve Stricker and William McGirt. (View photos from this week's practice rounds.)
On April 6, the world will see him on the biggest stage.
The state of Oklahoma will be well-represented in the gallery by Sooner alumni and current players cheering for their favorite golfer. Parents Kay and Bill, who were college athletes at Oklahoma, a gaggle of family, and his college teammates will cheer Dalke on as he competes against golf’s biggest names. (Many from Oklahoma are also watching from afar).
He brings a great resume into the weekend: prior PGA TOUR experience at the 2016 Valero Texas Open and consistent college play. As a freshman, he helped lead the Sooners to match play at the NCAA Championships for the first time in school history.
Dalke also amassed an impressive junior golf resume with the AJGA from 2010-2015. In addition to his record-breaking Thunderbird International Junior win at age 13, the Dallas native captured victories at the longest-running boys event, the CB&I / Simplify Boys Championship at Carlton Woods, and season-ending PING Invitational.
He represented the West during the Wyndham Cup five consecutive times (most all-time from 2011-2015) and earned 12 career points, tied with Tiger Woods for most all-time among boys. The match play experience didn’t hurt as he bounced back from 2-down to win his semifinal match at the 2016 U.S. Amateur to earn the invitation to Augusta National.
“It will be the week of my life,” Dalke told Golf Digest at the time, words that still must ring true.
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