Thaddeus Wier III has moved back to Myrtle Beach after five years away from the area with the intention of improving his golf game to make a run at a pro career.
He returned two months ago, has reunited with Royer, with whom he took lessons for a year following high school, and has begun his pro career with a few events on the Grand Strand-based SwingThought.com Tour Carolina Winter Series.
His first multi-round pro event was at The Pearl and he finished sixth at 1-under par. He finished fourth at 3 under at Sandpiper Bay last week, and on Monday he opened a 36-hole event at Black Bear Golf Club with a 6-under 66 and is a stroke behind Casey Johnson of Georgia entering Tuesday’s final round. He has also played in a couple one-day pro events.
Wier, who turned 24 in September, lived in Myrtle Beach for a year following his graduation from East Aurora High School outside Buffalo, N.Y., and was a pupil for that year of area instructor and former PGA Tour player Hugh Royer III.
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“I wanted to play golf in the south and didn’t have a resume built up to play at a Division I or Division II school,” Wier explained. “My grandfather lived here and said he had a place I could stay.”
He worked intensely on his game with Royer in 2009 and accepted a partial scholarship offer from NCAA Division II Lander University in Greenwood. “It was really about getting down to the south so I could play year-round and it was my dream to have a golf scholarship.”
After a year at Lander he transferred to Division III St. John Fisher College outside Rochester, N.Y., and spent the past three years there. “It was a [weather] trade-off but it was the right move I think,” Wier said. “It was about getting better and improving as a player. I didn’t see myself getting better and bringing my game to another level because I didn’t have the coach to work with. I kept in touch with Royer but he was too far to continue lessons.”
The St. John Fisher program is perennially one of the best in Division III, and Wier played in three consecutive Division III national championships and won a pair of Empire 8 Conference individual titles.
Wier was able to receive instruction a handful of times from famed Oak Hill Country Club teacher Craig Harmon, the brother of Butch Harmon, as well as an instructor at his home course of Springfield Country Club outside Buffalo.
“Hugh taught me a pretty simple swing that I could repeat,” said Wier, who has athleticism in his family as his younger brother, Stan, was the Buffalo area high school basketball player of the year. “After you build confidence the results start to come. If I get off [the swing] I get help with it.”
Wier believes he raised his level of play while at St. John Fisher, and benefited by further learning to play in difficult conditions.
“Probably the most beneficial thing of going to St. John Fisher was there were a lot of playing opportunities and they played against some good competition,” Wier said. “It opened my eyes to see I could do it and what the best at this level was.”
He said his team’s scoring average ranked among the top 100 schools in all NCAA divisions. “We had a pretty good squad,” he said.
Wier graduated in May with an economics degree, and practiced daily and/or played in amateur events over the summer.
Wier intends to play the SwingThought.com Carolina Winter Series through mid-February and may play in national SwingThought.com Tour events afterward, though he’s also eyeing the qualifying tournaments of both the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica and PGA Canada Tour.
The son of a father who works in collections and mother who works part-time has an issue shared by other touring pros on the Strand – funding. “I kind of need a sponsor to help with that,” he said. “I’m still searching for a sponsor. It’s great if you can get it but it’s difficult to find one.”
He hopes to play extensively over the summer in preparation for the 2015 Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament. Getting a part-time job is “a last resort,” he said. “Golf is full-time right now. I want to focus purely on golf right now and get as good as I can.”