French golfer makes most of Santa Barbara sunshine

French+international+student+Felix+Mory%2C+a+freshman+at+City+College%2C+basks+in+the+sun+on+April+13%2C+in+Santa+Barbara.+Mory+has+led+the+Vaqueros+golf+team+who+are+currently+second+in+the+Western+State+Conference.

Dani Novoa

French international student Felix Mory, a freshman at City College, basks in the sun on April 13, in Santa Barbara. Mory has led the Vaqueros golf team who are currently second in the Western State Conference.

STEVEN WELLBROCK, Channels Staff

On a Saturday morning, jogging through broken liquor bottles and fallen palm fronds, City College’s top golfer starts his pre-match routine, two hours away from tee time.

French international student Felix Mory is coming off a full night of sleep in preparation for his first Collegiate golf tournament. No one knows it yet, but a local sensation was about to hit his first golf ball in the Vaqueros red and black.

The six-foot-one, 157 lb. golfer rides a skateboard around Santa Barbara, blending in with the crowds. Yet he does the opposite on the golf course.

In his debut tournament with City College, he shot a three-under-par 69, earning medalist honors for the tournament and starting his college career off right. He now is shooting 72 on average and is sitting second in the Western State Conference.

“I knew he was a good player when I first saw him,” said head coach Chuck Melendez. “He’s one of the best players I’ve ever had.”

Born in the northern French city of Bourghelles, Mory first picked up the clubs when he was seven, thanks to his father, who has been an avid golfer his entire life. Mory’s father’s father was a golfer, and his father’s father’s cousins and sisters were golfers. So he had it in his blood, and once he picked up the clubs, he couldn’t put them down.

“It was pretty natural,” said Mory. “When I was 12-years-old I started getting more serious (about golf).”

Coming all the way to California only visiting once before, Mory was taking a risk. And when asked the hardest part of the transition to America, Mory was honest.

“There’s no good French food here,” Mory said with a grin. “It’s hard to find and when you find it, it’s expensive.”

But unlike the French cuisine, sunshine was everywhere Mory went.

“I can practice every day here and it will always be sunny,” Mory said.

The pressure in Mory’s early teens was even greater than the pressure he normally feels on the course. With an opportunity to attend a golf academy in France, Mory had to make a decision that would affect his whole golf career.

 “(The golf academy) sent me an email and wanted me to play for them,” said Mory.  “But its just golf, and you forget about your studies. It’s not like the U.S. where you go to a school to study and play golf.”

Felix set goals for himself of playing in the United States Amateur Tournament within the next couple years, and eventually the PGA Tour. He is confident he could become more successful in the U.S. than France, and deciding which school to attend came easy.

He picked City College because of its strong academic ratings, and the beautiful Santa Barbara weather. Picking a two-year college has helped Mory settle in to the U.S. balancing a college workload and the daily grind of being one of the conference’s top players.  Being over 5,000 miles from home, Mory still feels the support from his whole family.

“If I’m serious (about anything), I know they’re going to be supportive,” said Mory. “But If I’m not serious about school, I think they would make me come back.”

Mory, a business major, knows the importance of balancing school and golf. He must keep his grades up in order to have a solid chance to transfer to a four-year institution to further improve his game and hopefully prepare him for the U.S. Amateur Championship that takes place every summer.

Melendez has been at the helm of City College’s team for 13 years. He has seen a lot of players’ come and go, and a lot of athletes who’ve gone far in their golf careers. Mory, ranks right up there as one of Melendez’s most promising players he’s coached.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have coached Felix,” said Melendez. “Many (schools) will be interested in him very soon.”

With the high turnover rate being in charge of a two-year program, Melendez feels lucky to have a special player like Mory to represent City College.

Overall the move to Santa Barbara has helped Mory grow as a person and a player. Mory left home to pursue his passion, and is doing everything to put himself in a position to dominate California.

“I feel like I’m more mature with my game (now),” said Mory. “I play smarter.”

With three more league matches before regionals and state, Mory hopes to get his average score closer to 70, finishing the season strong. When the State Championships come on May 12, City College will be represented well, looking for its first state championship since 1997.