Golf

This 7-year-old one-armed golf prodigy is ‘defeating stereotypes’ and inspiring others

Tommy Morrissey, a 7-year old golf wunderkind from Palm Beach Gardens.
Tommy Morrissey, a 7-year old golf wunderkind from Palm Beach Gardens.

Tommy Morrissey’s story has gone viral and been a source of inspiration for the past four years.

The 7-year-old golf wunderkind from Palm Beach Gardens was born without most of his right arm, but that hasn’t stopped him from being one of the best young golfers to ever play the game.

His talents will be on full display this week once again as he makes his third appearance at the U.S. Kids World Championships at Pinehurst in North Carolina. The first of three nine-hole rounds begins Thursday. Tommy is the only child who has a limb difference to qualify for the world championships once — let alone three times.

“He’s defeating stereotypes,” said Tommy’s mom, Marcia Morrissey. “He’s got one arm and he’s competing against kids with two arms. ... He’s hanging with them and beating a majority of them. He’s inspiring a lot of other people.”

For Tommy, he’s simply playing a sport he loves at the highest level he can.

His attraction toward golf started at 14 months old when he would watch the sport on television. By 18 months, he began imitating the greats.

By age 3, he had his own set of golf clubs and was a regular on the golf course.

Nowadays, he’s out on the course four days a week. When he’s gearing up for a championship competition — like this week — Tommy will go out for two sessions a day.

“I thought I was going to be not that good,” Tommy says now. “But I actually did really good.”

Good very well might be an understatement.

Tommy tied for seventh out of 72 competitors in the 6-and-under category of the kids world championship field last year. His three-round, 27-hole score of 2-over par was two shots off first place.

His smooth swing rivals that of some of his idols — a list that includes Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler, Jordan Speith and Justin Thomas. He loves to putt, a part of the game that has been the demise of even some of the top pros.

“People always said ‘How is this kid going to play at this level?’” Marcia Morrissey said. “They watch him hit the ball and they’re like ‘wow.’ Then they’re the ones who are intimidated.”

On Tuesday, Tommy will be featured on the YouTube series “No Days Off,” which highlights Generation Z youth who “posses an extraordinary talent.” The show, produced by the digital media company Whistle Sports, in on its second season.

Joe Morrissey, Tommy’s father, said the film crew came to South Florida and spent two days with the family to get the footage for the episode.

“As a parent, it’s great to watch people come into Tommy’s life and be so engrossed in the story and tell it in a way that’s going to positively affect others,” Joe said. “Their hearts were truly in the right place.”

And while Tommy’s athletic ventures center around golf, the youngster also enjoys a slew of other sports. From baseball, soccer, football and lacrosse to bowling, fishing and ping pong, Tommy is always up for a challenge.

“I like to compete,” he said.

As for school, the second grader unsurprisingly loves P.E. and also has an affinity for math and science.

But the playground? Not so much.

“The only thing we can do there is just play kickball and tag,” Tommy said.

No need to worry about that right now. This week, the focus is on the golf course.

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