DADE CITY, Fla. — Will Long didn’t look nervous playing the final round of the USF Invitational tournament.
The 19-year-old freshman golfer from Auburn University had no reason to fret, shooting a 68 on Tuesday, and an Auburn-best minus-8 under par for the tournament to finish 10th.
So if Long was doing just fine on the course then how was his dad, Alec, holding up?
“[I’m] a nervous wreck,” Alec Long said. “I live and breathes on every one of Will’s shots.”
Their relationship involves shared passion for golf that has brought them closer together. The USF Invitational was the first spring tournament that Alec Long was able to attend in 2014 after taking time off from operating his family’s warehouse business in Gastonia, N.C. His father’s presence at the tournament meant a great deal to Will Long.
“He’s been behind me [in] everything I do,” Long said. “He’s my main sponsor, my main supporter. He’s definitely the one who lets it happen.”
Long took to sports early on in life, noting that he played everything from football to soccer as a kid. Golf came in to the picture around age 10.
“[At first] I didn’t like it that much,” Long said. “I was just like every other kid, playing every other sport. [Then I] figured I wasn’t going to get much bigger, so I leaned towards golf. It turned out pretty well.”
Alec Long said there was no stopping his son once he knew his career path.
“Once he really got the itch to play golf, we started playing junior golf,” Alec Long said. “We planned our summers around it. He played all the time.”
Attending Forestview High School in Gastonia, Will Long continued to climb the golf ladder in his state. In his senior year Long had what he said was the best moment of his career when he sank a 20-foot putt on the 18th hole to win the state championship. His success in high school led to a scholarship at Auburn, where he and his family were welcomed with open arms.
And Auburn’s coaches were overjoyed to have Alec following Will this past weekend.
“When we recruit the kid, we recruit the family,” said Evan Osteen, Auburn’s assistant golf coach. “So it’s important to have them here. We welcome any of the families to come, and we really enjoy it.”
With his fine showing at the USF tournament, Will Long hopes to use this experience as a stepping stone to even more success. His has aspirations of a professional career after college, which his coaches believe can happen through hard work in the years ahead.
After the season ends, Long and his father will likely head to the local Gastonia courses to get some practice rounds in. And in those practice rounds, father and son will bond over their love for golf.
“He was more the encouraging father,” Will said. “He just wanted me to do whatever I wanted to do, so he didn’t really force me to do anything. It’s worked out pretty good.”