TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - Every shot that Hayden Buckley takes; every putt that Hayden Buckley rolls is a reminder that his journey to professional golf wasn't easy.
"I didn't really have much (interest from colleges) out of high school," said Buckley. "I had one D1 offer in Houston, Texas at Rice University."
Undeterred, Hayden used a personal connection to get to the SEC.
Chris Harder, Buckley's swing coach, reached out to Missouri head men's golf coach Mark Leroux. Harder had played college golf for Leroux at Austin Peay University. Harder convinced Leroux to take a chance on Buckley, sight unseen. Buckley was awarded a two percent scholarship for books.
"That was the life-changer," said Buckley. "The coach had never watched me play golf, never seen me hit a shot, really probably didn't know what I looked like."
Buckley may have flown under the radar when he arrived in Columbia, but he left Missouri as one of it's most decorated golfers. Buckley won four tournaments his senior season, and shot 61, the lowest single round in program history.
"By my senior year I really started to compete," said Buckley. "That was the point where I kind of realized this might be something I could do as a career."
Armed with confidence, Buckley turned pro shortly after his senior season. In October, 2018, Buckley parlayed a sponsor's exemption at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson into a tie for 63rd place and his first professional paycheck.
In early April, Buckley went to Arizona and qualified for the Mackenzie Tour, a PGA sanctioned tour in Canada.
Buckley was a Monday qualifier for the Web.com Tour's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship in Prattville, Alabama. Buckley made the cut, and finished in a tie for 47th at even par.
Hayden Buckley is living proof that there are multiple roads to success.
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