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Home » NCAA Champ Hiroshi Tai Aims for U.S. Open Title After Unique Journey

NCAA Champ Hiroshi Tai Aims for U.S. Open Title After Unique Journey

Hiroshi Tai is no stranger to challenges. Making his major debut at the U.S. Open this week, the reigning NCAA individual champion has a background that sets him apart from the 156-player field at Pinehurst No. 2.

Tai, a 22-year-old junior at Georgia Tech, previously served 22 months in the Singapore navy. Born in Hong Kong and a Singapore citizen by his father, Tai spent his service time as a weapons specialist on the R.S.S. Tenacious, a stealth warship. He even took on the role of gunner, firing machine guns at floating targets as part of his training.

Tai’s journey to professional golf was anything but ordinary. After graduating early from Windermere Prep in Orlando, Florida, in December 2019, Tai entered basic training for his mandatory national service. His dedication was so intense that he often spent months without touching a golf club. When he did get shore leave, he would sneak in a few rounds or hit balls into a net on his back patio. On occasion, he would send swing videos to Georgia Tech head coach Bruce Heppler, who offered supportive but realistic feedback.

“He was so concerned that he’d forget how to play,” said Heppler. “He’d send me those videos, and he’s barefoot hitting into this tiny net, and I said, ‘Look, I think you’re looking at this the wrong way. The things you’re going to learn in that scenario are some of what I’ve would’ve tried to teach you when you got here.’

After completing his military service, Tai joined Georgia Tech in Spring 2022. Although he redshirted that semester, he practiced and even qualified with the team. He quickly shook off any rust by the following fall, winning twice, including the prestigious Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate. Last month, Tai clinched the NCAA Championship at La Costa, defeating top-10 amateurs and securing spots in both this year’s U.S. Open and next spring’s Masters.

During the NCAA Championship final, Tai showcased his resilience. Despite a triple bogey on his penultimate hole, he managed an up-and-down par from 40 yards to win the title. His tenacity also helped his team, Georgia Tech’s Yellow Jackets, advance into match play as the eighth seed, even without the world’s number one amateur, Christo Lamprecht, due to injury.

Tai’s former teammate, Bartley Forrester, now caddying for him at Pinehurst, praised his elite distance control with irons, a skill crucial for success on Pinehurst’s demanding greens. “With how these green complexes are, you need to hit your targets,” Forrester said.

Reflecting on his journey, Tai is grateful for the opportunity to play golf at this level. “What that made me more than anything was more grateful that I get to play this game.” His experience on a warship seems to have prepared him well for the pressures of professional golf.

As Hiroshi Tai steps onto the course for the U.S. Open, his unique background and unwavering dedication make him a player to watch. From a navy weapons specialist to an NCAA champion, Tai’s journey is a testament to resilience and passion.

Source: Nbcsports ˙ Twitter


Paul Lewis is a lifelong golfing enthusiast who has dedicated his life to the game he loves. With a passion that has fueled his journey, Paul's unwavering commitment to golf has shaped him into a knowledgeable and experienced individual in the world of golf.

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