Former Wildcat drives deep in tournament

Former Chico State golfer Kyle Souza drives the ball at the 10th hole of the PGA China Tour qualifiers on Feb. 6. Photo Courtesy of Kyle Souza.

Against the pressures of a long trip, language barriers and a foreign country, former Chico State men’s golfer Kyle Souza found a way to win the second round of the PGA Tour China qualifiers.

Taking home the first place medal of the second round qualifiers on Feb. 6 meant a lot more to him than just being a top contestant, Souza said.

Handling the pressures was easy for Souza once he stepped onto the course, he said.

“I feel like I’ve always handled pressure really well, in terms of golf,” Souza said.

On the golf course, it is easy for him to focus on what he has to do.

“It’s like a little sanctuary for me,” he said.

Souza feels confident knowing that he can travel and still maintain his ability to play during games, he said.

“Golf is the same everywhere around the world,” he said. “If I play well, I know that I can pretty much contend with the best of them no matter where I am playing.”

It was a long time coming for him to win the China qualifier because of his work ethic and grit, said T.L. Brown, head coach of the Chico State men’s golf team, who also coached Souza in college.

“He is focused on doing nothing but being successful as a professional golfer,” Brown said.

Golfing at Chico State under the guidance of Brown played a big role in Souza’s development in terms of the mental side of the game, Souza said.

When he first arrived at Chico State, Souza was a very aggressive golfer, said Eric Frazzetta, his former Chico State teammate.

“Now, he is a lot more conservative,” Frazzetta said. “He just plays smarter now.”

Brown expects the former Wildcat to work his way up to the PGA Tour in the next couple of years, he said.

While playing for Chico State, Souza was a Division I caliber player and his willingness to sacrifice his time for his goals separated him from the competition, Brown said.

“His heart as a competitor and his work ethic is probably at the top of any player I have ever coached,” he said. “He was there at the crack of dawn. He was there when it was pitch dark.”

Souza is now gearing up for PGA Tour China. The 13-tournament event is set to begin in April and end in November.

Souza hopes to place in the top five, in order to make it onto the competition. From there, he wants to earn his way into the PGA Tour, he said.

Dylan Wakefield can be reached at [email protected] or @dylan_wakefield on Twitter.