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Nick Chadbourne | NCAA.com | May 24, 2014

Chadbourne: Daley embraces move to Iowa State

  Sam Daley didn't focus exclusively on golf until he was 17 or 18 years old.

HUTCHINSON, Kan. -- It's never easy moving from the big city to a small town. But that's what Iowa State golfer Sam Daley, junior, did three years ago. He moved from a city of more than 2 million to Ames, Iowa, a city of about 60,000.

Oh, and the big city he came from was Brisbane, Australia.

"I wouldn't change it for anything," he said of his decision.

Daley, like most golfers at this level, started playing golf at a young age. His father and grandfather introduced him to the sport at six-years-old, but said he didn't consider it his focus until about a decade later. He was an avid rugby player growing up, and played cricket as well as competitive swimming. (He played for his Queensland's high school cricket team and for his district team in rugby.)

"Golf really wasn't my main objective until I was 17 or 18," he said. "Its kind of taken over my life from there."

While his focus was on rugby and cricket for most of his teenage years, he slowly realized his potential as a golfer when the accolades began piling up in high school. There, Daley began golfing for his state team, Queensland, where he would depart as the Brisbane junior champion and ranked as the third best Australian junior. During his high school years, he also played for the state's cricket team and his district's rugby union team.

He found himself at a juncture: pursue golfing or rugby.

Golf won out.

Daley's father, a school principle in Australia, suggested he parlay his golfing ability into an American education. Daley, a finance major, said if he stayed home, he likely wouldn't have grown as a golfer and academically. At home, his main focus would've been making it as a professional golfer.

"Australian golf academies don't really offer the academic side, but they offer the golfing side," he said. "I was more after the academic side, to make sure I have a backup once I turn pro."

Daley said he garnered interest from a few universities in America, but Tank won his commitment in the end. Tank discovered Daley through his connection to a manager for Golf Australia, the country's governing body for golf. Tank sent Daley an email asking if he'd be interested in coming to Iowa State.

Soon after, Daley packed up to move 8,600 miles away from home and boarded a roughly 21-hour flight to Iowa. He moved from the third most populated Australian city to a midwestern state -- holding a total population of only one million more than the entire population of his hometown, Brisbane.

"Coming to an agricultural state like Iowa was very different, kind of a bit of a culture shock, especially with the winter as well, so it was a lot different," he said.

No longer would he ride the bus or a train to travel around town. He traded the sarcastic-wit of his people for the more serious American demeanor. His favorite food, meat pies, were no where to be found. He was Iowa State's only Australian at the time. It was all something he embraced.

"You kind of throw yourself in the deep end and try different cultures and see how you can adapt. I've grown a lot as a person," he said.

Since arriving at Iowa State, Daley's list of accolades has only grown. His runner-up finish at this year's Big 12 tournament was the best finish in school history. He's nationally ranked by Golfweek, and represented Australia at the prestigious Spirit International Amateur Championship. All of which he's accomplished this year as a junior in college.

He's excelled in the classroom as well. He's earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors two years in a row. He knows that while his future in golf is bright, he's preparing himself to utilize his finance degree if it doesn't work out.

"If [my pro career] doesn't work out, I'll happily use my finance degree," he said.

With the honors bestowed upon him on the course and in the classroom, it seems that whichever option he chooses a year from now, he can't lose.