Golf

Hobbled Ty Strafaci finishes ninth in Future Masters

Tyler Strafaci was the medalist in a qualifier for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.
Tyler Strafaci was the medalist in a qualifier for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. For the Miami Herald

The name Future Masters is not just another fancy, made-up title for a golf tournament.

The name means exactly what it says — the elite of the future playing in Dothan, Alabama, and possibly in the future at Augusta, Georgia.

The tournament brings together the world’s best junior players — golfers who are expected to go on to win major championships.

And just a week ago, South Florida’s Ty Strafaci — despite being hobbled by an injured heel because of a stress fracture and severely bruised tendons — left his mark at the Future Masters.

Strafaci, 16, limped his way to a 9-under-par 63 to lead after the first round and then ended up finishing ninth in one of the world’s most prestigious junior tournaments.

“It was a good tournament for me,” Strafaci said. “Actually, everything is good right now.”

That would be an understatement, particularly because he hardly played any golf because of that irritating heel injury the four weeks before the Future Masters.

The history of the Future Masters reveals a lot. In the past, players who have gone on to win majors have cluttered the field.

Larry Mize competed in the event as a junior golfer and went on to win the Masters. U.S. Open champions Hubert Green and Jerry Pate played in the event. PGA Championship winners Bob Tway, Mark Brooks and Shawn Michel all were participants. British Open champion Ben Curtis also competed in it.

The event is a staging ground for the best junior golfers.

Now, Strafaci, with the Future Masters completed, is off to compete in the Florida Junior Championship at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto this week. A year ago he won the 13-15 division.

Lately, Strafaci has been on a cautious walk — the heel is still too tender to make that a sprint — toward his golf future. He has already qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, shooting 69-69 to earn medalist honors in the qualifier in North Carolina by a comfortable four strokes.

From a well-known South Florida golf family, Strafaci helped Plantation American Heritage High School win state championships in two of the past three years.

Now, with the graduation of Jorge Garcia (he will play for the University of Florida in the fall) and Kristian Caparros (orally committed to UF but decided to turn pro instead), it will be Strafaci’s job to help make it three titles in four years for Heritage.

Of the high school team, considered a national power, Strafaci said, “We’re going to be good, and we should have a good shot at winning state again.”

What will Strafaci’s role be in that quest?

“I definitely need to be a leader,” he said. “Last year, I was the younger kid on the team, and now I’m the older kid.”

He is comfortable with both that status and with his game at this point.

And, as for the injured heel, he said, “I’m nearly back to 100 percent. I am ready to go.”

THAT’S A FACT, JACK

Chad Pfeifer will make history this week when he plays in the Web.com Tour’s Albertsons Boise Open.

Pfeifer, who lost his left leg above the knee while in Iraq, will be the first amputee to ever play in a Web.com tournament. The Web.com Tour is a major stepping-stone for getting onto the PGA Tour, which Pfeifer assures everyone is his intent.

“Golf saved my life,” Pfeifer said.

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