These Boys Will Rock Pebble

Brock Dowdy and Davis Bryant will play with the pros in the Nature Valley First Tee Open.

Dowdy, Bryant and 80 other juniors were selected from a field of 148 applicants by The First Tee based on golf skills, written essays, interviews, recommendations and overall character. They learned about their selections July 1 during “Morning Drive” on the Golf Channel, which will televise the tournament September 24-27. Neither has played Pebble Beach before, but when they do, they’ll be following in the footsteps of Aaron Woodard of The First Tee of Denver, who won the inaugural First Tee Open with Craig Stadler in 2004, and six other Colorado First Tee golfers, including 2013 participant Kobe Padilla, who is currently an Evans Scholar at the University of Colorado.

An eight-year participant in The First Tee of Denver, Dowdy has progressed through golf skill classes, the Players’ Club competitive tournament series, and even employment as a junior coach where he has worked for three consecutive summers. Currently a 17-year-old senior-to-be at Denver East High School, Dowdy made the varsity golf team as a freshman, crediting instructor Trent Wearner and Colorado Golf Fitness Club’s Dee Tidwell with his success.

He fell in love with the game when his maternal grandfather gave him a cut-down 9-iron, and his passion for playing and teaching the game has him looking at a Professional Golf Management (PGM) programs such as the one at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, where he can also get a degree in business. “My other option is to go somewhere and play D-I or D-II golf,” says Dowdy, whose lowest competitive score is 70.

Like all the juniors in the Nature Valley event, Dowdy won’t know which Champions tour player will be his partner until September 22. “It would be great to play with Brad Faxon, one of the best putters known, because I could learn so much,” he says. “But I’ve always been a fan of Tom Lehman and Fred Funk.”

For Bryant, the choice of partner is easy. “I was named after Davis Love III,” says the 15-year-old son of Matt Bryant, the PGA general manager and director of golf at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, and Julie Bryant, the executive director of The First Tee of Green Valley Ranch and director of member services for the Colorado Open Golf Foundation.

The Eaglecrest High School sophomore has participated in The First Tee of Green Valley Ranch since he was seven, the same age at which he scored the fi rst of the nine aces he’s had on GVR’s Par 3 Course. Playing in the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach will cap off a fabulous season that started in April, when he won the Colorado Junior Golf Association’s Pueblo Spring Championship, and continued with runner-up and top-ten finishes in numerous CJGA events, including the CGA Junior Stroke Play.

He shot a 69 at Boulder’s Flatirons Golf Course to win and qualify for the Optimist Junior Golf national championships at PGA National in Florida, but was unable to compete because the dates conflicted with the prestigious U.S. Junior Amateur at Colleton River Plantation Club in South Carolina. Bryant qualified for the latter at the Fox Hill Club in Longmont by grinding out rounds of 72-71 and birdieing the third playoff hole to earn the final spot.

Then, right after the Junior Am, he traveled to Pine Canyon Club in Flagstaff, Ariz., where he competed in the boys Junior America’s Cup July 28-30. Both he and Dowdy have gotten to know each other and look forward to representing Colorado in Monterey. Having caddied for John Elway in the HealthONE Colorado Open, Bryant won’t be starstruck by all the big-name golfers.