Tyler Dierwechter was quite content playing football, basketball and baseball as a kid in Morgantown, W.Va.. Then a family vacation to Disney World when he was 13 changed him forever.
He had never picked up a golf club before tagging along with his father, Jim, for a round of golf at the Disney Resort. And he hasn’t been able to put one down since that day.
“I hit a good shot and I was like, ‘Wow, I want to do this,’ ” Dierwechter said.
Team sports were a thing of the past. Back in West Virginia, Dierwechter would hang out at the local course from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. all summer. In the winter, he and his dad would go to Pittsburgh every Sunday to practice in an indoor facility.
Just before his freshman year, the Dierwechters moved to Pinellas County. They became members at East Lake Woodlands, and Dierwechter joined the East Lake High golf team. As a sophomore, Dierwechter helped the Eagles advance to the region tournament.
After the high school season ended, he decided to devote himself even more to the game, playing on the Florida Junior Golf Tour, Hurricane Junior Golf Tour, American Junior Golf Association and International Junior Golf Tour.
It was on the latter that he got the opportunity of a lifetime. After scoring well in several tournaments, he was asked to join the U.S. team in the Euro Junior Cup in Scotland from July 31-Aug. 2. The United States competed against junior teams from Canada and Scotland on the historic St. Andrews Old Course.
“It was a great experience,’’ said Dierwechter, who was 3-3 in his matches. “Very different style of golf. Here, when you’re 50 yards out you can take a wedge and fly it to the hole. Over there, I had to take a 7-iron and basically putt it to get it close. It suits my style of play. I had to be creative with what I was doing.’’
Dierwechter will be home schooled for this junior season — he is also enrolled in 10 weeks of golf school at the Hank Haney Academy in Hilton Head, S.C., attending one week per month. — but still will compete with East Lake.
“I couldn’t miss one week of school each month, so we decided to home school,’’ he said.
Dierwechter said he has his handicap down to two. He is already looking at colleges and hopes to eventually play golf at the highest level.
“My plan is to play college golf,’’ Dierwechter said. “Then hopefully after that I’ll be good enough to turn pro.”
More intriguing golfers/teams for 2013
Countryside: Seniors Donald Wasoff, Jay Dixon and Ben Fisher make the Cougars one of the stronger teams in the area.
Blake Dyer, St. Petersburg: Now a junior, Dyer should be the top Green Devil golfer after Jack Maguire and Jake Kevorkian graduated. He was second-team all-conference last season behind a pretty good group of golfers.
Fivay: The Falcons lost almost all of the top players from last year’s district runnerup team. Junior Travis Isabella is the only returning player and will be expected to lead Fivay’s rebuilding process.
Donnie Gabrelcik, Mitchell: The junior won the Sunshine Athletic Conference title last fall. He’ll be joined by district champ Anthony Swinford and strong sophomore Mike Spinger to lead a deep Mustangs team that should be strong, again.
Ajani Liggins, King: This Lions junior, four strokes off the top spot at the Class 2A, Region 3 tournament last season, appears poised for a breakthrough autumn.
Newsome: The Wolves return three top-11 region placers from a team that ultimately placed third at the state tournament. Junior Tyler Bakich, who tied for fourth at the 2A tourney with a final-round 67, heads the nucleus.
Anthony Quintessenza, Northside Christian: Perhaps the best golfer in Pinellas, Quintessenza is capable of shooting some low numbers. He had a 67 to tie for first at the Vinoy Invitational last season and shot 72 to win the A-15 district championship. Look for a big senior year.
Saddlebrook Prep: The top four players — including all-North Suncoast performer Ryoto Furuya, Joe He and Won Jun Lee — return from a team that finished sixth at state last fall. A top-five finish in Class A seems like a possibility.
Mike Stewart, River Ridge: As a sophomore, he earned all-conference honors and qualified for the region tournament individually. He and Mike Dodson should have good seasons for the Royal Knights.
Tampa Catholic: The Crusaders return every scorer from the squad that shattered the program record for a region tournament team score (by 22 strokes) and clinched the school’s first boys state tourney berth. Arguably TC’s deepest team ever.
Aug. 24-25: Sam Park Invitational, Belleair CC
Aug. 31: East Lake Invitational at East Lake Woodlands
Sept. 14: CVSA Tournament at Cheval
Sept. 16: Outback Invitational at East Lake Woodlands
Sept. 30: Sebring Invitational
Oct. 3: Mustang Invite at Seminole Lake CC
Oct. 5: Clearwater Central Catholic Invitational at Belleair
Oct. 7: Sunshine Athletic Conference tournament
Oct. 10: Green Devil Invitational
Oct. 14-15: District tournaments
Oct. 21-22: Region tournaments
Oct. 29-30: State tournaments
Compiled by staff writers Matt Baker, Joey Knight and Rodney Page.