WACO, Texas — Coming out of high school, Groves native Braden Bailey was destined for greatness.
A three-time first-team all-state selection and four-time district champion, Bailey got his college career off to a blazing start by becoming the third freshman in program history to lead the team in stroke average (72.61).
“I learned how to be more professional in a way I guess,” Bailey said. “Be more disciplined. The biggest thing was growing up, maturing and managing your time.”
In four years, Bailey was a two-time All-American. His 18 career top-10 finishes rank 5th in program history while his 72.17 stroke average puts him seventh. Bailey also won the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in the fall of 2016 and Arizona Intercollegiate tournaments in 2018.
“I loved it and I give a lot of my credit to my coaches, Coach (Mike) McGraw and Coach (Ryan) Blagg,” Bailey said. “I not only grew a lot as a golfer but as a person under them so it was a lot of fun. All my teammates, all the guys I got to meet along the way just learn from them and become friends for life with them. It was a pretty cool experience.”
In 2019, Bailey was a finalist for the prestigious Byron Nelson Award, which is given to the top senior men’s college golfer. He became the first Baylor player in history to appear in the NCAA Championships in all four seasons.
“The four national championships is really special to me, especially being the first player to do that,” Bailey said. “That’s the goal every year. I remember my freshman year, we haven’t been in a while and the seniors haven’t been to a national championship yet and they were so pumped up.”
Bailey was named to Baylor’s All-Decade first team last week. He is one of five players to receive that prestigious honor.
“It was actually a pretty cool surprise because we’ve had a lot of good players kind of come through, definitely in the last decade,” said Bailey. “Baylor golf has gotten really good and obviously right now, they are still really good so it’s an honor to be on that list for sure.”
Since graduating, Braden has played on the All-Pro Tour. Last summer, he played in three tournaments, finishing tied for 3rd, 4th and 3rd.
In March, he tied for 4th at the Coke, Dr. Pepper Open in Alexandria, Louisiana. Last week, he tied for 21st at the Fore the Kids Classic in Brownwood.
“It’s hard right now because there’s really not much opportunity with guys without status right now with the corona and everything has happened,” Bailey said. “But I’ll still be able to compete and play all summer in some mini tour events.”
Bailey is set to play next week in the Supreme Lending Classic in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
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