If you talked with Hale Furey three years ago as a freshman, he gave you the impression that he would rather golf at Corona del Mar High.
In the fall of that year, when he ran cross-country, Furey talked golf. When he played basketball in the winter, Furey continued to chat about golf. During the spring, when Furey competed in track and field, golf remained his favorite topic.
At one point, Bill Sumner, the cross-country and track and field coach at CdM, pulled Furey aside in the spring of his ninth-grade year.
"Why you here?" Sumner said. "Hale, you belong in golf. I'd love to have you on my track team. You'll probably run in college if you stayed on my track team, but you're a golfer. You breathe golf. You talk [golf]. Go play golf."
Sumner hated sending one of his best distance runners away. As a freshman, Furey ran the mile in 4 minutes, 47 seconds.
The following year, Furey left all the running, on dirt, on the court, and on the track, behind for a slower-paced sport at CdM. On a golf course, Furey still found a way to break away from the pack, especially in his senior year.
Keeping up with Furey during last week's Pacific Coast League individual championships proved to be tough. Furey claimed the title for the first time, firing a two-day total of three-under-par 139.
Furey won the event at San Juan Hills Golf Club in San Juan Capistrano by five strokes. Shooting a five-under 66 in the first round, his first bogey-free round of his career, and collecting five birdies gave Furey a fast start. The next day, Furey went out and avoided a bogey for the first 12 holes, producing three birdies, and finished with a two-over-par 73, becoming the first of seven golfers from the league to qualify for the CIF Southern Section Southern Individual Regional.
The windy conditions at the next tournament at Skylinks Golf Course in Long Beach caught Furey by surprise on Monday. The gusts affected Furey's putting, costing him a chance to move on to the next tournament. Furey, who shot six-over-par 78, missed the cut by one stroke.
The season isn't over for Furey. He's preparing with CdM for Monday's CIF Southern Section South Coast Team Divisional at Talega Golf Club in San Clemente. The Sea Kings aim to win the divisional for the third straight season, the first involved Furey a couple of years ago.
Last season, Furey spent it away from the team. He had a lot going on as a junior, an academic load with five AP courses and a traveling schedule with a dozen national golf tournaments to compete in to gain exposure. Mike Starkweather, CdM's golf coach, respected the decision. It paid off for Furey, on the course and in the classroom. In June, Junior Golf Scoreboard ranked Furey No. 32 in the country for the Class of 2014. Furey's best academic year turned out to be as a junior, when he boasted a 4.9 grade-point average.
Last week, Furey said he found out that he's one of seven valedictorians at CdM, where he has a 4.457 cumulative GPA that almost mirrors his time in running the mile as a freshman. Sumner was right, golf is Furey's future. Furey is bound for Harvard. His father, James, who went to Princeton and played golf, likes to joke that Harvard is enemy territory.
Family comes first in the Furey home. There is another Furey on the CdM team, Chase Furey, who's a freshman. The brothers usually play in the same group during league matches and push each other.
"I would hate to be living in their house," Starkweather said of the siblings, adding that the two have earned medalist honors five times each. "They're about as competitive as you can get."
The younger Chase was unable to make the league finals because he couldn't afford to miss school for two days. Just like the older brother, Chase is committed to school. Scores on a test are more important than the ones on a scorecard.
Unlike Hale, Chase began to golf during his first year at CdM. Hale said it's scary how good Chase will be, as he's already ranked No. 11 in the nation for freshmen.
"Chase is all into golf," said Hale, before looking back to when he talked with Sumner and decided to focus on golf after his freshman year. "Coach Sumner told me, 'If it was anyone else, I would say you're crazy for dropping running. You ran a 4:47 mile, but I fully support you because golf is your passion.' He got behind me. He has given me great guidance."
Born: Nov. 17, 1995