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A Tuel for success

Some people play golf.

For two months, Mike Tuel lived it.

After graduating from Fergus Falls High School in May of 2008, Tuel attended classes at North Dakota State University for one semester.

Things went OK, but there was just something missing from his life that he dearly wanted back (at least on an everyday basis):

Golf.

So, in February, Tuel packed his bags and headed down to Florida, enrolling in the prestigious IMG Sports Academy in Bradenton.

From there, he slept, ate and played golf.

Well, pretty much.

“We also did some classroom stuff and lifted weights,” Tuel said. “But yeah, it was pretty much golf all day, every day. There wasn’t really anything else to do. They set us right in the middle of a retirement area, so even if we wanted to get in trouble, we couldn’t have.”

At IMG, Tuel trained with several golf professionals and with what he calls “technical coaches,” refining his game and smoothing out his mechanics until the end of March.

“There is no doubt I improved my overall game in every aspect,” Tuel said. “But the rigorous schedule really pushed me to the edge and tested how much I really wanted to play college golf. I never questioned it though. I used the experience to gain the discipline needed to play this sport at a high level. ”

It was also in Florida that Tuel began making connections that would help him land at DePaul University.

“I did a lot of networking in Florida,” Tuel said. “I played with Ben Westly, who plays for (DePaul) and he put in a good word for me with the coaching staff. I took my official visit and really like it. I met with the team too; they seemed pretty cool. I’m excited.”

Tuel will have four years of college eligibility when he joins the Demon Deacons next year.

Since he began playing in the back yard with his older brother when he was four years old, Tuel says golf has always been a huge part of his life.

“I just fell in love with the sport,” he said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

As an Otter, Tuel qualified for a pair of Class 2A individual state tournaments. Though he hasn’t played on a team since high school, Tuel has remained busy on the course.

“To be honest, I’ve been golfing more now than I ever have,” Tuel said. “I’ve gone to places like California and Phoenix to play in tournaments. It’s pretty much non-stop golf.”

One of Tuel’s more exciting post-graduation moments came recently at Pebble Lake where he sunk a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole to qualify for the Minnesota State Amateur Tournament in July.

“That was exhilarating,” Tuel said. “I was getting pretty nervous, especially since I had just double-bogied 17. But when I got to the green, I just told myself that I have done this before and I can hit this.

“I kept my head down on the ball and looked up to see it sink into the middle of the hole. That’s why I play golf — for moments like that.”

Moments like that are only possbile after hours of practice.

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