Northridge Middle School Golfer Takes Top Prize at Annual Tom Bell Memorial Classic
Tuscaloosa's Graham Patton, an eighth grader, outscored over 70 high school golfers, taking home first place in the 12th Annual Tom Bell Memorial Classic.
Patton, who plays golf for Northridge Middle School, was recruited to participate in the tournament by Northridge High School's golf coach, Andrew Kniphfer, to play with the high school team due to his strong golfing abilities.
Ryan Ballard, Northridge Middle's golf coach, said Patton competed against some of the top high school golfers in the state, some of who already have college athletic scholarships.
During Patton's 18-hole game, the likelihood of him taking home a prize was low, but soon enough, things changed.
"While at hole 16, he doubled, which put him out of it, of winning, but then he bogeys the next hole," Ballard said. "He comes back on the last hole and gets a birdie and wins everything, which is unheard of. I've been coaching for seven years and I've never seen anything like that."
Patton said he was honored with the opportunity to play in the tournament and said he was thankful to take home the top prize. Patton will be playing for Northridge High School next year.
Ballard nominated Patton for the Will May Award, which honors exemplary student athletes at Northridge Middle, which he said Patton is deserving of based on his good sportsmanship and character.
"Graham is probably one of the easiest kids to coach," Ballard said. "I also taught Graham when he was in sixth grade so I've seen him in the classroom. Also, the best part about his golf game is his mental state. He doesn't let bad shots ruin him. He doesn't have a bad attitude. He has the perfect mindset to be a good golfer. He's like that in the classroom and he's like that wherever he goes."