01/09/08 — Warriors' Ham signs with Mount Olive

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Warriors' Ham signs with Mount Olive

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 9, 2008 3:51 PM

Sound fundamentally.

Room for improvement.

Continues to work hard.

The comments read like a coach's scouting report on a player, don't they?

Not hardly.

It's Kyle Ham's critique of his own golf game.

"I do need to continue to work hard ... have room for improvement in all areas of my game," said Ham, a senior at Eastern Wayne. "I have not reached the level that I want to achieve, yet."

Despite his personal criticism, Ham's talent and his untapped potential haven't gone unobserved -- especially by Mount Olive's Chip Spiron. One of the most-successful coaches on the Division II level, Spiron signed Ham to a national letter-of-intent.

Ham courted offers from Division I UNC Greensboro and East Carolina University, as well as perennial Division III power Methodist College. But he couldn't pass up the opportunity to play close to home.

"Mount Olive has a competitive golf team," said Ham, who plans to study the chemistry and clinical research fields. "I also know some of the current team members and felt it would be a good fit for me. I have confidence in my game, and I know that if I continue to work hard, I should be able to contribute."

Ham gave up playing baseball at 11 years old to concentrate on golf. Since then, his game has blossomed through practice rounds, regular-season high school play and tournaments.

He keeps the ball in play off the tee, has better-than-average distance and scrambles well on the green. His ability to maintain his composure on the course has helped him avoid big numbers, and made him one of the most-consistent performers on the Class 3-A scene.

Ham has earned all-Eastern Carolina Conference accolades each of the past two seasons and qualified for three N.C. High School Athletic Association championship meets. He earned All-American status this past summer, along with teammate Nick Barrow, while competing in the National High School Coaches Association National Open Golf Championship.

"(My) toughest challenge is staying mentally focused for 18 holes," said Ham, a 2007 Wendy's High School Heisman state finalist. "It is very easy to lose focus and make a big number. I work very hard at staying in the moment and taking one shot at a time."

That approach should help Ham on the collegiate level.

He joins a program that is slowly gaining recognition on the region and national level. The Trojans made their second straight postseason appearance a year ago after posting a seventh-place finish in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference tournament.

Spiron plans to adjust Ham's practice routine and help strengthen his mental game. The two have discussed continuing to play in the offseason. Ham ended up third in the 2007 Wayne County Junior Amateur and third in the Lane Tree Golf Club Championship.

"I just need to continue my practice regimen, work hard and I should be able to compete," said Ham, the Warriors' MVP each of the past two seasons.

The scouting report proves it.