NEWTON — After the first day of the biggest tournament of his life, Andrew Walker walked out of the scorer’s tent and sighed. Five hours of golf in the hot, August sun left him exhausted.
Walker planned on hitting the putting green, going out to dinner with family, then returning to his hotel.
“Where he’ll probably unwind by playing some video games and go to bed,” his father, Filmore, said.
A bit unusual for a participant in the nation’s most prestigious amateur event? Not if you’re 14 years old.
“It’s just games on my phone like Temple Run and Candy Crush,” Walker said. “You know, like most kids my age.”
Walker isn’t quite like most high school students. Not after he shot a 76 (6 over par) at Charles River Country Club Monday.
Walker, who turns 15 in October, became the fifth-youngest golfer to play in the US Amateur.
He is also the youngest African-American — edging Tiger Woods, who debuted in the event at 15, and won an unprecedented three straight Amateur titles.
Walker will, of course, draw comparisons to Woods.
It was especially evident on Monday when Walker — a gangly 5 feet 8 inches, 115 pounds — wore a straw bucket hat, almost identical to the one Woods often wore as a teenager.
“It’s not because of Tiger, my dad used to wear hats like that,” Walker said. “I’ve been wearing one since I was 8.”
That’s two years after he began playing competitive golf.
A prodigy from Michigan, Walker showed promise early on. He entered 13 tournaments as a 7-year-old.
“And I think he won half of them,” Filmore Walker said.
Walker always demonstrated poise beyond his years. Perhaps it’s discipline he learned from his other hobbies — violin and karate.
Walker, who attends a math and science magnet high school, sports a 4.0 GPA.
He is thoughtful when he speaks, often pausing a few seconds before answering questions. It’s not because he’s shy in the spotlight — the Walker family has been overwhelmed by media requests over the past four months, mother Nancy said. Rather, Walker is a student of the game.
“I’d like to play golf for the rest of my life,” Walker said. “I learned to be calm out there because that can affect how I play, most of the time, negatively. You see that with some golfers.”
Throughout 18 holes Monday, Walker’s composure never wavered. He was stoic, whether he missed a put — “and my putting game wasn’t too on today,” Walker said — or drove a ball far and straight down the fairway.
“He did set the bar high and people will have expectations for him,” Filmore Walker said. “But he has high expectations for himself. And I think that’s what drives him.”
Walker, tied for 179th place out of 312 participants, used his older brother, Filmore Jr., as a caddy.
“Andrew plays better with his brother with him,” Nancy said. “They joke around, which makes him feel relaxed out there.”
Throughout the day, Filmore Jr. — a junior at the University of Michigan — played the role of big brother and caddy perfectly. When the August sun baked down on the fifth hole, unguarded by shade, Filmore Jr. grabbed a Gatorade from the cooler and insisted his brother drink it.
They spoke softly between holes, often laughing, and often communicating without words. Filmore Jr. simply would point to a club. Little brother would nod, dutifully.
Another reminder of Walker’s age (and size): When others in his group used irons on shorter-length holes, Walker often opted for a driver for more power.
“I think he knows how big of an event this is,” Filmore Sr. said. “But I don’t know if he truly understands. That’s something he might not get until he’s older.”
Walker was one of Monday’s biggest attractions. About a dozen spectators gathered at each hole. When new fans dropped in, they often appeared surprised.
“That’s one of the golfers?” one woman mused. “He’s just so small!”
“But look at that drive,” a man responded. “He has such talent.”
“And poise,” another woman chimed in.
Hard to remember he’s just 14 — except when he flashes a smile.
“When you see the braces, then you remember,” said his mother.