Tennessee junior golf star commits to UM

Joe David will play golf at Ole Miss for a number of reasons. But one seems to stand out above all the others.

"I just felt at home there," said the two-time Tennessee state junior champion golfer.

But the high school senior's list of reasons is longer than that.

"I liked the campus and the coaches. I liked the players that I met. It just had a homey feel that I really liked," said David, who will turn 18 on Sept. 20 and will sign with Ole Miss in November.

David, who plays at Goodpasture Christian School in Madison, Tenn., had strong overtures from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Central Florida, among other schools. He visited all three as well as Ole Miss.

"I just didn't feel as strong about Tennessee," he said. "Central Florida was beautiful and I liked their coaches. They were young. But it was too much like being at a resort all the time for me, like a place you would want to stay a couple of weeks and that's it.

"Kentucky, like Ole Miss, has a great program and great head coach and assistant coach. But Ole Miss was just more my type of place. I just fit in better there and felt like it was the place I wanted to spend four years. I already know some other students there."

The middle Tennessee area has been good to Ole Miss golf over the years. Former All-SEC Rebel golfer Haymes Snedeker was from there. So was Chris Rogers, who as a senior last year helped lead Ole Miss to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since head coach Ernest Ross returned to the program in 2004. Currently on the team from that area is Clark Brewer who will be a junior this year.

Add David's name to the list now. David is currently ranked among the nation's top 120 junior golfers. He made it to the U.S. Junior Match Play where he was seeded seventh.

Last fall he won the prestigious Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award, presented by the American Junior Golf Association to the one player nationally who exemplifies outstanding qualities both on and off the golf course.

David played in several AJGA events this summer and finished fourth and second in two of them. His Goodpasture team won the state Class A-AA title in 2005 and was runnerup in both 2004 and 2006.

The 5-foot-11, 160-pounder, who plays at Farm Lakes at Riverside in Old Hickory, Tenn., and at Old Hickory Country Club, averages 310 to 315 yards off the tee, so he would definitely be considered a long hitter. But he's accurate, too, and that will help him become an effective player on the collegiate level.

"My strength is striking the ball," David said. "I hit it long but also hit a lot of fairways, usually 10 of 14 or like today (Tuesday) 13 of 14. I believe I'm one of the biggest hitters in the area, and my ball-striking has improved so much. I need to improve on the greens. I usually have 31 to 33 putts a round. I can still shoot par or under with that many putts because I keep the ball in play."

But David will have plenty of time between now and next August to work on his game and become even more ready for college golf. And playing at that level is something he is really looking forward to. He is excited about playing for Ross and assistant coach Jonathan Dismuke at Ole Miss.

"Coach Ross is a heck of a guy, and Coach Dismuke is a great recruiter and helps to keep the players' games on track," he said. "I know I will enjoy playing for them. Ole Miss is just far enough south of here (Nashville, Tenn. area) so that the weather will be a little better. I can also come back home on occasion since it's not too far.

"It's just the right fit for me. I really liked the campus, the coaches and the players I met. I'm really looking forward to it."

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