David Byrne credits UDM for success

At age 9, David Byrne separated himself from other kids.

While most his age only worried about having fun, Byrne was helping provide for his single-parent household by working multiple jobs.

The extra work helped him develop determination, he said.

Byrne applied that determination to every aspect of his life, especially golf, his favorite sport.

This past summer, it all paid off.

Byrne, a 2010 UDM graduate, won the Golf Channel's reality hit show, "Big Break Indian

An underdog in the competition, Byrne surprised many when he hoisted the trophy on the last episode, which aired in July.He was the show's youngest competitor and had to survive four elimination rounds en route to the title.

Byrne's former coach wasn't surprised, though.

"Since I began recruiting David, I noticed he had an insatiable drive to compete," said Mark Engel, the Titan golf coach for the past 21 years. "I keep an eye out for those

Byrne said he's grateful to Engel for helping launch his golf career.

"Coach Engel gave me an amazing opportunity to play golf in the states on a scholarship," he said. "He saw something in me that many other people didn't see.

"I was never really any good coming to UDM, definitely not a

Luke LaFave, Engel's assistant, disagrees.

He said Byrne was an instant standout.

"David's always possessed a killer instinct on the golf course, he just needed to realize how good he was," LaFave said. "He just needed confidence, and coach Engel giving him a scholarship was all the confidence he

As soon as Byrne entered UDM, he wanted success.

"(His) determination set him apart from the rest of the team," LaFave said. "He had a work ethic that was unmatched. (He) thought about all the aspects that would improve his game and worked at them.

"He practiced reading greens, his short game, his long game and he read books about

Byrne kept much of what he learned at UDM with him when he turned pro.

affects everything I do in small ways; I take my experiences with me everywhere," he said.

Byrne said that UDM taught him life lessons he applies to his golf game.

"The days while filming ("Big Break") were exceptionally long. Going to UDM, a small Division I school in the north, taught me patience on the golf course because of the weather that we would have to play in," he said. "I feel as if that patience really got me through the

He learned a lot away from the links, too.

"I loved the size of the school," he said. "Everyone knew everyone and I always felt a sense of community which I hope to take with me wherever I

Byrne calls UDM his second home and is thankful for what it gave him.

"It's a special place that made me learn to just be me," he said.

In the end, Byrne is thankful to UDM, but UDM students are thankful to Byrne, too.

Christopher Nemes, a junior accounting major and UDM lacrosse player, feels confident after watching Byrne's success.

"He made me proud to be a Titan," Nemes said.

Byrne will make his PGA debut April 23, 2012, at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, La.

Staying true to his UDM roots, he'll keep LaFave as his coach.

"Coach Luke is now my full-time swing coach, mentor, one of my best friends and someone who I plan to grow my golfing business with," Byrne said. "I run everything I do by him, get his advice on all facets of my life. And he is a big reason as to why I improved so much the last few