There are many cases of injuries that cause people to change careers in sport or sport, from former England footballer Jimmy Bullard to Olympic silver medalist Rebecca Romero. What every athlete has in common is the constant pursuit of competition. The same can be said for St. Joe grad student Wills Montgomery.
The Exton, Pennsylvania product was determined to play baseball in elementary and middle school, but after suffering a serious foot injury leading into his freshman year of high school, he had to find another sport. Unable to run with the injury, his doctor told him he was still able to twist his foot, which led Montgomery to return to golf during his recovery.
A disadvantage of golf, however, is that the sport is primarily an individual competition, unlike basketball, soccer, or other common team sports. But Montgomery not only didn’t care about this aspect, he thrived on it.
“I could only blame myself if I didn’t play well and if I played well it was because of the work I did,” Montgomery said. “There’s a quote that I’ve stuck with, and I’m paraphrasing here, but it says golf is a lot harder than baseball because in golf you have to go get your foul balls and play it from of the.”
It wasn’t until his second year of playing that he realized he could have a bright future in the sport after appearing in a 2014 ChesMont League Championship playoff.
“I remember standing on the tee during the sudden death playoff with the other three playoff guys, all seniors who were going to play at the next level; one had a scholarship to play at the University of Notre Dame,” Montgomery recalled. “So after that, I realized I could play at the college level.”
The business intelligence and analytics major ended up finishing second overall in the event while averaging 78.1 strokes per round. His high school career is studded with impressive accomplishments ranging from winning medalist honors at the Central Dauphin Invitational and Hershey Invitational as a senior, to representing Pennsylvania at the 2016 Williamson Cup and winning the 2015 Hickory Valley Championship and of the 2016 Junior Tour of Pennsylvania Indian Springs title.
When Montgomery landed at Hawk Hill his freshman year, his high school success accelerated to the college level. He was named Atlantic 10 (A-10) Rookie of the Week twice, posting three top 20s and one top 10 in all ten events while averaging 75.36 strokes per round over 25 rounds.
You’d think one of those individual accolades would be Montgomery’s favorite memory of his golfing career, but it was instead when the Hawks won the 2019 Columbia Invitational.
“It was the only team win I’ve been in and it’s something I’ve been striving for ever since,” Montgomery said. “It was a special moment to share with all my team-mates and it’s something I will never forget.”
A common misconception is that golf can’t be a team sport because every player competes directly against each other, but Montgomery wants to put that narrative aside and explained that ultimately every player on the roster is still has the same goal of contributing to wins.
“I get asked all the time how golf can be a team sport and how it’s organized that way,” Montgomery said. “We all know how we play on a certain day won’t influence how other team members play, unlike a sport like basketball where players can improve other guys on the court with their way of playing, but that being said, there are still individual accolades that we all set out to achieve. Whether those goals and accolades come from within or without, the primary concern is the success of the team. »
The grad student still intends to keep improving his game, as St. Joe’s has just four events left before the end of its regular season with the A-10 Championship just around the corner.
“I hope to improve my consistency in the future,” Montgomery said. “I believe my ‘good’ golf can rival anyone in the country, but it all depends on how often I can play my ‘good’ golf. Playing a single round of good golf in a 3 round tournament isn’t going to accomplish anything so putting on stronger rounds and doing it over a long period of time is something I’m looking forward to seeing if I can achieve .”
This article was first published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on April 5, 2022 as part of the Inquirer’s Academic Correspondent Program.