OCEANSIDE, Calif.—A golfer from La Jolla Country Day High School earned the Junior Player of the Year award and will compete at the Farmers Insurance Open later this month.
Anthony Paolucci stands 6-feet, 2-inches tall, but when it comes to golf, the 18-year-old stands head and shoulders above all other juniors.
"That was one of my goals starting the year," Paolucci said after a recent practice session in Oceanside. "It crossed my mind previous years that it would be really great award to win."
Anthony said he started golfing at 18 months when his parents gave him his first set of plastic clubs. He graduated to a set of sawed-off clubs at age five and by age 12, he won his first big event - the Future Masters tournament.
The Paolucci family moved to Rancho Santa Fe in September of 2009 and soon thereafter, Anthony started training at the Titleist Performance Institute in Oceanside under Dave Phillips.
"Anthony's an exceptional young man," Phillips said. "He's intelligent. He understands what it takes to be good. He's not afraid to practice and try to do different things but he doesn't get caught up in trying to have the perfect golf swing or the next great thing that comes out in a golf magazine. He understands that he's an individual, and that's very rare at his age. A lot of young kids I deal with, they're constantly looking at the best players in the world and trying to be them. What I'm trying to make is Anthony."
To improve his game, Anthony does a lot more than just hitting golf balls. He also goes through rigorous workouts with his strength trainer Milo. One of the workouts includes pushing his car while Milo rides inside.
"The workouts get pretty intense," Paolucci said. "A lot of times we'll have people watching us work out and they'll come up to me and say, 'Oh, so you're training for football?' I was like, 'No, this is golf.'"
Anthony has an entire support staff working with him at the TPI: a golf coach, strength coach, chiropractor, and sports psychologist.
To retain his amateur status, Anthony's parents have to pay for all these services. In return, Anthony earned a scholarship to USC and a sponsor's exemption to the Farmers Insurance Open starting January 27 at Torrey Pines Golf Course. His goal is to join the PGA Tour full-time.
"I'm very fortunate," Paolucci said. "If it wasn't for (my parents), I wouldn't have done the things I have done and be in the situation here. I thank them every day, especially the move out to California here to be able to work with these guys and be able to work out at a facility like this."