SOUTH PORTLAND – After winning the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national golf championship last October, Tommy Stirling of Southern Maine Community College set his sights on gaining a Division I or II scholarship.
Stirling’s efforts were rewarded Wednesday when he signed a letter of intent to play golf at Division II Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla. With his parents alongside, Stirling, 19, signed during a ceremony in SMCC’s Hutchinson gymnasium.
“I’m excited,” said Stirling, who played at Gorham High. “It should be a great experience.”
Stirling shot 72-68 in the USCAA tournament to win by four shots at Penn State.
Stirling said his biggest improvement is something not associated with a swing.
“My confidence is huge,” he said. “I’ve played well in my past Maine Amateur tournaments but I never had a good opening round like I did at the nationals. I was interested to see how I would react in the second round.”
People took notice.
“A lot of interest started coming in for Tommy after that event,” said Matt Richards, SMCC’s athletic director. “He did it on a Division I level course. Tommy is a local kid who I think flew under the radar a little bit as a golfer coming out of high school. He decided to come to Southern Maine Community College, where he has blossomed as a student, a golfer and a person.”
Stirling will have two years of eligibility remaining. A sports management major, he plans to study business administration and marketing.
Stirling credited SMCC Coach Tom Cloutier for preparing him.
“He took me to his home course, Purpoodock, and we played a few rounds. He kept encouraging me and building my confidence. The greens were exactly like the ones we played on at Penn State,” he said.
After researching some Division II golf programs online, Stirling discovered Southwestern Oklahoma State had openings on its roster. Stirling then received an invite from Coach Marc Chandonnet, a Massachusetts native, to visit, which he did on his March break. Stirling played two rounds, one with the coach and another with a player.
“I shot 76 on a par-72 course in steady 40 mph winds playing with the coach,” said Stirling. “He liked how I played.”
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: