Grant Smith wasn’t thinking about winning when he began play in the Kids Teen World Golf Championship in Pinehurst in July.
But when Smith, a rising eighth grader at Charlotte Country Day, broke through with a second-round 6-under-par 66 at Pinehurst No. 6, his expectations quickly changed.
“I was just hoping for a good finish,” said Smith of his chances in the 14-year-old division. “I wanted to hit fairways, every green and make some putts. But after the second round, I thought I had a chance.”
Smith’s second round featured six birdies (including three in a row). And after finishing with a third-round 69, his 9-under 207 total was good enough to edge Ryggs Johnston of Libby, Mont., by a stroke for the title.
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Smith, who plays out of Charlotte Country Club and is on Country Day’s middle-school team, was already plenty accomplished before winning the Kids Teen title. He’s ranked No. 1 in the state in his age division, 19th nationally and 20th in the world, according to Junior Golf Scoreboard. Earlier this year, he won Charlotte’s Metro Junior championship, as well as the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour’s Augusta Shootout.
He won several titles in 2013, including the Tarheel Junior Golf Tour’s Vantage South Bank Junior Open and a Tarheel Youth Golf Association tournament at Irish Creek in Kannapolis.
He also has three holes-in-one (including earlier this year at Roaring Gap Country Club). Smith also is the starting shooting guard on Country Day’s middle-school basketball team.
“It wasn’t surprising, him winning the Teen World title,” said Andrew Shuck, the pro at Charlotte Country Club. “I can’t see many 14-year-olds better than Grant. He handles himself so well. He’s a young man amongst men.”
Smith, who is 5-foot-6, 102 pounds, doesn’t drive the ball very far yet (averaging 240 yards). He said he makes up for that with an excellent long-iron game.
“Since I don’t drive it too far, I’ve got to get the ball on the greens with my long irons,” he said. “I do that pretty well.”
Smith said he patterns his game after Luke Donald and Adam Scott. His long-term goal is to play at Wake Forest. That’s not because the Deacons’ program has produced such golf stars such as Arnold Palmer, Jay Haas, Curtis Strange and Webb Simpson. He said it’s because his parents, Scott and Granice Smith, are both Wake Forest grads.