Church soon to be a Senator

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR STAFF
jbirchfield@starhq.com

   Tyler Church's career as a championship-winning golfer at Elizabethton High School has ended, soon to take his talents on the links down to Morristown and Walters State Community College. Church made it official on Tuesday inking his name to the Senators.
   "I definitely think I'll like it a lot," said Church about his choice for higher education. "I'm going to get to live off-campus with me and a few of my friends. I like the idea of it being a junior college where I'm not stuck for four years, but will be there for two."
   While there is optimism concerning his future surroundings, Church can also look back to this past season with fondness after winning the Region 1 golf championship.
   "It was a big deal," said Church. "I played well that day considering it was a real up and down round. I made a bogey, a double bogey and had six birdies."
   His high school coach Dave Rider says that on the golf course, Church was who the Cyclones always turned to for a strong performance.
   "He was our leader all year long," said Rider. "He consistently did the things he was supposed to do. He has a tough work ethic on himself. He wants to win.
   "This day and time a lot of people have ability, but don't want to work at it. If you don't work at it, you will lose it. You like to be around kids like him that enjoys working hard. It makes it fun for the kid and fun for the coach."
   It was Rider's influence that helped to spark interest in Church.
   "He gave me advice on how to send out letters and get scholarships," said Church. "He cares a lot about it. As players, he makes sure we're doing our best when we're practicing. It's just going to be a different game, competitively in college."
   Rider insists Walters State is fortunate to bring Church into the fold.
   "Tyler is a real good kid," said the EHS coach. "He's a hard worker, who's only going to get better. He's got a good attitude, a joy to be around.
   "People have to know about you. I just tell them the truth. People are looking for kids with good attitudes and talent. As long as I'm around and know the coaches, I'll try to help them get in schools."
   For Church, his game has been honed on a challenging hometown course.
   "Elizabethton is my home course," said Church. "It's one of my favorites, I like to play. Mountain Glen in Newland is another course I like.
   "It will be pretty big to learn to play at all the new courses in college. I'll have to learn to adjust quicker, since I won't be familiar with the courses. Being at Elizabethton, you're playing on greens that are ogolated. Down in West Tennessee, you don't need to adjust your shots as much."
   Asked about the areas of strength and where he needs the most improvement, Church answered: "My iron game is the best part of my game, although it's starting to be putting. I got a new putter a few days ago and that's helping out. It's an Odyssey 2-ball putter that has two big white dots that make it easier to line the ball up.
   "My biggest work is coming off the tees. I average about 270 on the drives, but it's a matter of hooking a little bit."
   This summer it's a sure bet that Church will work to correct that aspect of his game, as he prepares to make his inaugural season as a Senator a true success.