Paula Merritt /The Meridian Star
To Meridian father Tony Polizzi, it seems like just yesterday when he first brought his two-year-old son Ross to the golf course with him. Seven years later, he is still sharing memories, as he caddied for Ross who took home the gold in the State Games of Mississippi's U9 junior golf tournament.
Ross trailed Madison's Owen Abney by one stoke after Day 1 but rallied on Thursday, shooting 3-over to finish at 84 for the tournament and crush Abney by eight stokes. The gold medal was Ross' first in the State Games as he finished with a silver last year.
“He has grown a lot,” Tony Polizzi said. “He hits the ball a lot further, and you can see a big difference between this year and last year. He shoots a lot better scores, and he has got a lot stronger.”
Ross' interest in golf centers around his idol, Tiger Woods. He said he likes how Tiger was able to achieve success at a young age and hopes one day soon he can find that same success for himself.
“He loves Tiger Woods,” Tony Polizzi said. “When Tiger's on TV, he's watching it, he keeps up with every tournament he plays in, he wears Nike stuff. Ever since he was two, he just wanted to be Tiger Woods.”
The extra time with dad is also a plus for the budding golfer.
“It's fun,” Ross Polizzi said. “It's just nice going out there and having a lot of fun with him.”
At nine years old, this year marks the last time Ross can compete with his father on the golf course, as players 10 and up are not allowed a caddy. Though he will miss caddying for his son, Polizzi said Ross is more than ready for the next level.
“He can do it by himself now,” Tony Polizzi said. “He knows his yardages and what clubs to hit. I'm just there to kind of keep his emotions in check, but he doesn't even really need me out there anymore.”
The victory comes just three days before Father's Day, and Polizzi said watching his son succeed on the golf course was a nice early gift. However, Ross quickly reassured his dad that there could be more championships to come as the two will travel to Columbus on Monday for the Coca-Cola Junior Tour.
“I'll try to win another one for you there on Monday too Dad.” he said.