COSTA MESA -- From San Antonio, Texas, or Queensland, Australia, for Tyler Thurmond or Myoung Kim, two different stories on two different parts of the globe ended with the same result ... home at Orange Coast College and an opportunity for an individual state men's golf title.
Both of these Pirate sophomores will be wrapping up their OCC careers at the California Community College Athletic Association Men's Golf State Championship at Napa's Silvarado Resort on Monday and both will be moving on to four-year opportunities following this season.
The road to Costa Mesa was quite a different path for both of these young men, but the goals were both one in the same.
For Tyler Thurmond … he grew up in San Antonio, TX and was one of the top 50 golfers of his age in the state when he graduated from Ronald Reagan High School in 2017. He decided to stay local and attend the University of the Incarnate Word, a small, private Division I program in San Antonio, but after one season, the program went through some drastic changes.
"After my freshman year, our coach was fired and when a new coach comes in, scholarship money was altered and changed and it just wasn't the same place as it was when I got there," Thurmond said. "I wanted to keep playing golf and I thought, 'what better place to play than in Orange County' so I started looking at schools. I looked up some schools in the area and saw OCC had had success for years in men's golf, so I contacted the coach, gave a little prayer and decided to come to Coast."
Thurmond's one year at OCC was a bit up-and-down, even by his own admission, as he started off the season ranked fifth on a very experienced and talented Pirate squad. "Coming from Texas, I always heard about the 'California laid back style' of life, but when I got here, it was really go-go-go so that took a little bit of getting used to," Thurmond said. "I really had to limit distractions and focus on just playing golf. I had to get back to playing a more patient style, keep my head in the match and stay mentally strong."
Over time, Thurmond's scores improved as the season rolled on, including a 2-under-par, 70 on his home course of Costa Mesa Country Club on April 1. After helping the Pirates qualify for last week's Southern California Regionals, Thurmond shot a 1-under-par, 73 at Los Serranos' South Course and followed that up in the afternoon with an eye-popping, bogey-free, 2-under 70 on the North Course for a two-round total of 143, which tied him for seventh among all of the golfers in the field. His afternoon 70 was third-lowest among the field for the final round.
"I wasn't hitting it all that well, but my putting was on fire so that was the key," Thurmond said. "I just kept telling myself to give myself opportunities out there and to really stay patient on that course."
OCC head coach Sean Collins had this to say about Thurmond ... "Tyler has come a long way, literally. I'm not sure he was prepared for the high level of competition here in the CCCAA. That being said, he has put in his time and has dedicated himself to this time-consuming game. He is playing is best golf right now and should be a blast to watch him on Monday at the state finals."
Thurmond gives Collins credit for helping him with his TX-to-CA adjustments. "Coach Collins really helped the team limit the distractions and to set the bar high," Thurmond said. "I was shocked at how good our team was and thought at first it would be a little easier. But Coach has really helped me grow from my time in Texas to California and he made the transition so much easier."
Thurmond's hard work has paid off as he will leave OCC and return to Texas, where he will attend Texas Tech University in the fall and pursue a career as a sports broadcaster. But for now, there is one more task at hand ... the State Finals. "Of course I want to win, but I know there will be lots of good players in the field," Thurmond said. "Like I've said, I just need to stay patient and give it my best with no excuses."
For Myoung Kim … his road to Coast began in Korea, where he was born into a golf-playing family. "My mom is a professional golfer, so I got into the sport very early," Kim said.
After traveling abroad with his family, Kim attended high school in Queensland, Australia, but knew that to play better golf, he needed to make his way to the United States. "I wanted to play at the Division I level out of high school, but I knew I simply didn't have the experience or exposure, so none of the schools knew who I was," Young said. So, I decided to look into the community college level and saw the success the OCC program has had. It was the best decision I could have made. It's been a great two years here and I've really enjoyed my time with Coach Collins and my teammates. It really is one of the best programs in the state."
Kim joined a talented OCC squad in 2018 and helped the Pirates advance to the State Finals, where they finished third overall. This year, Kim has been near the top of the Orange Empire Conference leaderboard, shooting three rounds under par, including a 6-under-par, 66 in the opening round of the OEC Championships on April 29 at Royal Vista. His 72.8 average score per round was third-lowest among all OEC competitors.
At the SoCal Regionals, Kim opened with a 2-under-par, 72 and followed that up with a 2-under 70 on the North Course for a two-round total of 142, which tied him for fourth-lowest total of the Regional. "Myoung is one of the best players I have ever coached," Collins said. "He has achieved about everything there is to be had at this level and will be excited to see how much of it he brings on Monday. He is definitely one of the favorites to win the individual state title."
With such high expectations, how has Kim handled the focus and the nerves that come with top-level golf? "It's funny, I'm actually more comfortable when I am nervous," Kim said. "To me, being nervous shows that I care about what I'm doing and that I really love to play golf, which I do. Unfortunately, we aren't competing for a team title, but I know Tyler and myself want to represent OCC and help continue to be a good example for this program."
Following his Coast career, Kim will be attending Chico State, where he will major in geography. "In Australia, it's a bit more of a loose environment, both in sports and academics, so when I came to America, I really saw a difference," Kim said. "Here, it's more intense, both in class and on the golf course, so I really had to made that adjustment of thinking quick and acting quick with an emphasis on working as hard as possible."
As a team, the Pirates came up just short of qualifying, but with Kim and Thurmond in the mix on the individual side, there will be a plenty to smile about at the State Finals on Monday.
"It's really been a special season, not only with Myoung and Tyler, but with the entire team," Collins said. "It was unfortunate to come up short at Regionals, but to have these two guys at the final competition of the season, I couldn't be prouder of either one of them."