“Chip,” more than just a shot for UK golf

Kentucky during the second round of the Southeastern Conference Championship at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course in St. Simons Island, Ga., on Saturday, April 16, 2016. (Photo by Steven Colquitt)

John Morgan Francis

In the game of golf, the word “chip” is used for a short-type of shot usually played around the green. In Lexington, the UK has a practice facility 25-30 minutes from campus. The university’s golf team makes multiple trips to the facility each week to practice their game. At that facility, and the many tournaments UK plays in, the word “chip” means more than just a short-shot.

Tyler McDaniel is a junior at UK, playing in his third season on the golf team. Around the team and the tournaments they play in, McDaniel is usually referred to as “Chip.”

Growing up on a nine-hole golf course, McDaniel began his golf career at Clay County middle school. Transitioning to high school and into his senior year, McDaniel won the 2013 Junior PGA Championship. He rode that momentum into his freshman year at UK, starting in 11 tournaments that season.

“It was pretty cool to experience immediate success,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel was second on the team in stroke average at 72.12 and was later named to the All-SEC Freshman Team, of which he said he was honored.

Following his freshman year at UK, McDaniel saw an even larger increase of production on the golf course. As a sophomore he led the team with a 71.76 stroke average, but this was just one of many polished accolades he achieved that season.

Related: New UK Baseball stadium approved by Board of Trustees

McDaniel was selected to the 2016 PING All-America Third Team and the 2016 All-SEC Second Team. However, when asked about his best moment of his second season on the team, he said it was taking runner-up in the SEC Tournament.

Following the SEC Tournament was the NCAA Regional, in which McDaniel caught the eye of everyone around him. He placed fourth, granting himself an entry to the NCAA Tournament.

“It gave me a lot of confidence that my game was trending in the right direction,” McDaniel said. “It gave myself and the team a lot of confidence heading into the postseason.”

McDaniel went on to tie for 26th place in the NCAA tournament with a score of +7 over-par. UK sent four other golfers to the tournament, as the team finished 13th overall.

“It was really cool. Just to be there was an accomplishment,” McDaniel said when asked about his NCAA tournament experience.

Following a strong finish to his sophomore year, McDaniel said he was struggling coming into the fall season of his junior year. By practice and hard work, the veteran hopes he and his teammates can trend in the right direction as they transition from winter break to the spring season.

“Experience is definitely a factor in any sport you play,” McDaniel said. “When it comes down to the post season, a veteran team is very important.”

Related: UK adds three-star QB commit to 2017 class

McDaniel also gave high praise to the university for the family-like culture, as well as the team being a brotherhood and more than just golf.

“Having a good team is nice. You can push each other while practicing. Off the course, it’s nice having people who you like and who provide positive energy,” McDaniel said.

“Chip”, growing up on a nine-hole golf course, said the facilities at UK are like a gold mine.

“When it gets cold in the winter, the indoor facility helps us prepare for the spring,” he said.

Following graduation, McDaniel has strong intentions for a golf career.

“I definitely plan on playing after college,” McDaniel said. “I feel like I owe that to myself after putting this much time into golf.”

Tyler “Chip” McDaniel has definitely made a statement as one of the best players in the country. He’ll look to further establish his place in the rankings as he heads into the winter break and then to the spring season.