Tommy Burns, PGA  golf professional with the Selma Country Club, awards the Paul Grist Trophy to Thomas Morris of Selma for his play at the 52nd annual Bud Burns Dixie Junior Championship. Morris finished sixth in the 11 and 12-year-old B-division after shooting 88 and 96 in two rounds of golf.--Daniel Evans
Tommy Burns, PGA golf professional with the Selma Country Club, awards the Paul Grist Trophy to Thomas Morris of Selma for his play at the 52nd annual Bud Burns Dixie Junior Championship. Morris finished sixth in the 11 and 12-year-old B-division after shooting 88 and 96 in two rounds of golf.-- Daniel Evans

Morris wins Paul Grist Trophy at Bud Burns Championship

Published 4:34pm Saturday, June 22, 2013

By Daniel Evans
The Selma Times-Journal

On Tuesday, PGA golf professional Tommy Burns was set to award Thomas Morris, 12,  the prestigious Paul Grist Trophy for his play at the 52nd annual Bud Burns Dixie Junior Championship, but Morris was nowhere to be found.

Not knowing he had won the trophy, Morris was already at baseball practice — ready to work on swinging the bat after swinging golf clubs for two days. For a youth that plays baseball, football, basketball, and golf, changing from sport to sport in the blink of an eye is just part of an impressive daily routine in which he wears many hats.

Once he found out the award was his, Morris stripped off his baseball uniform, put his mind back into golf mode, and hurried back to Selma Country Club to accept his trophy. The honor goes to a Selma golfer that exhibits excellent sportsmanship, tremendous character, and continues to put in hard work on his or her golf game, all attributes Burns says Morris exemplifies.

“It is about rewarding sportsmanship, good character, your work ethic, your attitude and your love in God and country,” Burns said. “[He’s a] heck of a kid. We have lots of little boys that deserve it, but what made him stand out to me this year was his improvement and his great attitude.”

For Morris, who is entering sixth grade at Morgan Academy, the trophy came as a complete surprise.

“My grandmother picked me up from baseball, but I didn’t know what it was, so I was just freaking out,” Morris said after being told what the trophy stood for.

Morris continues to improve his overall golf game. He’s made Selma Country Club like a summer home since school let out.

“Every single day since school has been out, he has been going over there playing,” his dad, Caleb Morris, said. “When I say every day, I mean every day he is in town or when the club is open. This week he played Saturday, Sunday, a practice round Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then took [Friday] off.”

As if playing four sports is not enough to keep him busy, Morris is also spending a lot of his free time this summer learning how to play piano.

“He takes piano lessons. That means more to me than anything,” Morris’ dad said. “If he wants to play other sports, we will do whatever they want to do. He’s well-rounded and his little brother [Andrew] is the same.”

At the golf championship, Morris played well during Tuesday’s first round, including a birdie at the par 4, 7th hole.  He shot 88 in round one, leaving him only ten shots behind eventual 11 and 12-year-old B-division winner Drew Smith. Morris followed that up with a 96 in round two, on a day where scores were higher for many of the players in his age group. In the end, Morris tied for sixth overall in the 11 and 12-year-old B-division boys standings with a total score of 184.

“He’s a real competitive child. He always has been. His first word was ‘ball,’ his dad said. “He’s a sweet child. He’s not going to go out of his way to hurt somebody or do it his way. He just likes to compete.”

After not playing as well as he would have liked last year at the Bud Burns Dixie Junior Championship, Morris was proud to compete again and achieve better results.

“The first day I ended up with an 88, which I was glad for, because last year I wasn’t doing very well, because it was my first year and I shot 116,” Morris said. “On some of the holes, my friends encouraged me to keep trying when I was down, and they helped me a lot. “

He says he likes golf because “it is calm” on the golf course and it gives him a reprieve from the rest of the world. He’s hoping that in the future he can start playing in more tournaments.

“I am going to try to keep playing in more tournaments,” Morris said. “My mom [Camille] said ‘You’re doing good, but you still need to keep two tournaments,’ because I am only playing here.  Hopefully next year, I’ll be playing in more tournaments.”

Until then, basketball, football, and baseball might keep him occupied. But if those fail to do so, there’s always piano.

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