The Orion

Golf alumnus swinging toward tour

Kevin Lucena

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Chico State alumnus Kyle Souza after winning the 2014 Northern California Open Championshp. Photo credit Kyle Souza

Kyle Souza looked 489 yards ahead from the tee box at the Northern California Open Championship. Already having posted three 18-hole rounds in the 60s, the Chico State alumnus stood on the tee 20-under-par, tied for the lead of the professional title with UC Davis alumnus Matt Hansen.

“I striped a drive down the middle, then cut a 3-wood onto the green about 30 feet from the hole,” Souza said. “It was a pretty straightforward putt: uphill with not much break and I hit it on a great line and it dropped. Hansen actually had a shorter eagle putt than I did but he was coming downhill with a lot of break and missed the putt.”

That title was one of several that Souza claimed over the summer. He is attempting to live out his dream of earning his PGA Tour card so he can compete against the best golfers on the biggest golf tour in the world, week in and week out.

Starting at the California State Open qualifier June 17 and finishing with the Northern California Open Championship Sept. 10, Souza entered in eight different tournaments and finished no worse than tied for second in any.

Souza was introduced to golf by his father at the age of 7 and began entering tournaments when he was 8. He won every tournament he entered that year.

After attending Livermore High School and leading their golf team, Souza played at Chico State in the fall of 2008 as a member of men’s golf Coach T.L. Brown’s first recruiting class.

“One day he painted his ball black with a magic marker until he lost it in the leaves in the fairway at the end of the front nine…then he shot a 32 on the back nine to still qualify,” Brown said. “He really learned how to win consistently after he figured out how to use his emotions to his advantage on the course.”

In 2011, Souza was part of the Chico State team that won the stroke play portion and reached the final round of the team match play portion of the NCAA Division II championship in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Souza won the Arnold Palmer Award, which is presented annually to the individual national champion, after defeating Daniel Young of Lynn University on the third playoff hole.

Chico State career

  • Six individual college tournament wins in 2012, most in the nation
  • Named Chico State Male Athlete of the Year in 2011
  • Finished in the top 10 in 11 of 12 tournaments in 2011
  • Career-low 66 round at the Dave Stockton Coyote Classic in 2010
  • Qualified for every tournament all four years at Chico State

Recent Rounds

  • 49 under par in last nine tournament rounds
  • T1 Web.com Q-School pre-qualifying stage
  • Currently T1 in the 2014 Sand Hollow Open, heading into final round after shooting 64, 65 to open

Kevin Lucena can be reached at @[email protected] or @theorion_sports on Twitter.

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Golf alumnus swinging toward tour