FAIRLAND -- The only thing keeping Oliver Gearlds from closing out his high school golf career with an appearance at the IHSAA State Finals Tournament is Oliver Gearlds.
“It’s my mental game,” said Gearlds when asked what part of his game needs the most work. “Sometimes I can get in my own head and that usually is what brings my scores up or (makes them) go low, it’s where my head is at that day.”
Gearlds, a Triton Central senior who has yet to advance out of the regional round of the postseason, estimates he needs a round of 73 or 74 at the regional to qualify for the 2023 state tournament. He shot 71 this summer on The Players Club course typically used for the regional.
“If I play my game, I can make it to the (state finals),” said Gearlds Wednesday afternoon. “It would mean a lot to me. When I was in middle school and even through high school, that is where I wanted to be. That would be the icing on the cake.”
Then he can focus on his college career.
Gearlds made his commitment to play golf at Indiana University Kokomo official Wednesday with a signing ceremony at Triton Central.
“I picked IU Kokomo because I have friends that go there. It’s big in Business (his intended major). And when I went on the visit, the golf program was amazing and everyone treated me great,” explained Gearlds.
Gearlds was joined by friends and family Wednesday to mark the occasion.
“This has been my dream. I am glad it finally happened,” he said.
Gearlds closed out a strong tennis career this fall with 17 wins at No. 2 doubles for Triton Central. Now he is preparing for one final golf season as a Tiger.
“I am focusing full time on golf right now,” said Gearlds. “There is a (golf) simulator here on campus. I will be in there most every day. And I am working out a lot more to gain yardage and accuracy.”
Gearlds has been playing golf much of his young life. He can recall swinging clubs as a three-year old and playing competitively for the first time while in fifth grade.
“It’s kind of a family sport for me,” he said. “My dad played (golf). My great-grandpa played it and I was just raised on the sport.”
The desire to get better led to early victories.
“When I first started out, I wasn’t very good,” he said. “I started putting in more practice and winning tournaments. That’s when I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”
Gearlds has three goals set for 2023 – win every nine-hole match he competes in, lower his scoring average to 1-over par, and qualify for the state tournament.
His offseason work in the coming weeks will get him closer to those goals. Then, come August, he starts all over as a member of the IU Kokomo men’s golf program.
“I’m not sure about that freshman part,” laughed Gearlds when asked whether he was ready to be a freshman again. “I am ready to be in college. I don’t know if I am ready to lead the freshman life again.”
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