The mere thought of golfer Callum Tarren ranking among the first-day leaders at the men’s U.S. Open has to rank among the memorable accomplishments by a Radford University athlete.
What’s more impressive is, he didn’t fade. After registering a 3-under par 67 in the first round at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., Tarren finished with a 69 and a tie for 38th.
He finished ahead of such PGA Tour notables as Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.
Mike Grant, named men’s golf coach of the year in the Big South Conference this year in his 18th season, had the pleasure of overseeing Tarren’s development.
Tarren, 32, is from Great Britain, not exactly a Highlander haven.
“It’s kind of a funny story,” said Grant, who is from Radford. “Our soccer coach at the time was recruiting a kid from Darlington [in England] and, somehow, Callum’s name ended up in my office and it was like, ‘Hey, this is a kid who’s been overlooked.’
“We took a chance on him and he was a super kid to have in the program.”
Tarren has played on a variety of tours in the U.S. and elsewhere, hopefully making good use of a Radford marketing major.
“It seems he’s gotten better every year,” Grant said. “Callum has exceptional length. He’s one of the longest players I ever saw in college. Until this day, I’ve never seen anybody who could hit the ball as far as he does.
“That’s a huge bonus for him on the tour and I think he’s learned how to control that length and use it more to his advantage.”
“He’s got enough experience now where you might see his name on any given week. He missed the cut a week before [the U.S. Open] so beware of the guy who missed the cut the week before a major.”
There’s no question that Callum ranks among the PGA Tour’s powerful hitters.
“I just found out that he leads the tour in coming out of the rough,” Grant said. “Callum is really, really strong and was really athletic. Another thing is, he has one of the fastest clubhead speeds on the tour.”
Grant played at VCU, where he was a 1991 graduate, before returning to Radford, where he had grown up. This was his 19th year with the men and he has coached the Highlander women for the past two seasons.
Grant played professionally for a while. He was an outstanding player in high school in the New River Valley.
Lanto Griffin, who moved from California to Blacksburg at an early age, played collegiately at Virginia Commonwealth. He shot 72-75 and missed the cut at the recent U.S. Open but has earned $1.71 million to this point. Griffin is looking for his first win of the season.
UVa’s top representative on the tour is Denny McCarthy, who is 40th on the money list, with earnings of $2.38 million for the year. He tied for seventh at the U.S. Open and a fifth in the Memorial Tournament in June was his best finish for the year. His sister, Michaela, plays lacrosse for Virginia Tech.
Virginia has taken a football commitment for 2023 from Amare Thomas, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound wide receiver from Pinson Valley (Ala.) High School.
Thomas is the fifth player to commit to UVa, whose class ranks 70th in the country at this point. The most recent commitment to Virginia Tech, which is ranked 43rd by the same service, is Layth Ghannam, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive lineman from George Washington High School in Charleston, W.Va.
Already committed to North Carolina and second-year coach Hubert Davis is 6 foot-9 G.G. Jackson from Columbia, S.C., who is rated the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 class.
Duke has two of the top 10-rated players in the class, 6-8 Mackenzie Mgbako from Gladstone, N.J., and 6-8 Sean Stewart from Orlando, Fla.