There may not be many paths that lead out of Michigan's peaceful Upper Peninsula to the land of fame and fortune.

However, Bryson Mercier is familiar with enough determined natives who have gone down those roads to know that the journey can be made.

The junior at North Central High School in Powers, Mich., is all too familiar with the legend of "Izzo and Mooch" — aka Yoopers Tom Izzo and Steve Mariucci, former high school classmates at Iron Mountain High who enjoyed great success coaching college basketball and professional football, respectively. Mercier is also familiar with U.P. golf legend Becky Iverson, a native of Escanaba who made it to the LPGA Tour before settling down in Madison as the director of golf at Bridges Golf Course.

And, of course, Mercier doesn't have to look far for recent trailblazers from his neck of the woods. He plays "after-shift" rounds with two of them — NCAA Division I golfers Hunter Eichhorn of Carney (Marquette University) and Bryce Douglas of Gladstone (Detroit Mercy University) — at Sage Run Golf Club in Harris and knows he would not have been in position to earn the 2020 Wisconsin PGA boys player of the year honor without their examples.

"It is possible from a small area like up here to do some extraordinary things," said Mercier, whose success on the WPGA Junior Tour is similar to Eichhorn, who was a two-time WPGA player of the year (in 2016 and '17). "I can't start to talk about how (Eichhorn) has made my game better, just by being around and carving a path as well. Without him, college coaches probably wouldn't even step foot in the U.P. I can't thank him enough for what he's done."

At the same time, no one has worked harder than Mercier over the last two years to make himself one of the top junior golfers on the WPGA circuits.

2020 WPGA Junior Boys: Top 10 finishers

Pos. Player Points
1 Bryson Mercier
2022, Powers, MI
1,347.50
2 Ty Kretz
2021, Marinette
1,293.33
3 Benjamin Pausha
2021, Delafield, WI
820.83
4 Kyle Bengtson
2020, Woodruff, WI
805
5 Tyson Sparks
2024, Muskego, WI
751.25
6 Silas Pickhardt
2021, Madison, WI
698.17
7 Maxwell Reis
2022, De Pere, WI
682.14
8 Kaeden Nomm
2022, Minocqua, WI
647.5
9 Aiden Cudney
2024, Appleton, WI
644.67
10 Austin Georger
2021, Appleton, WI
641.24

After playing only a handful of WPGA events between 2015 and 2018, Mercier showed glimpses of potential in 2019 when he won a one-day event at Green Bay Country Club with a 73 and finished T3 in another on the Irish Course at Whistling Straits with a 76. However, he failed to contend in any of the three two-day events that season, finishing ninth at the Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin College Showcase on the Irish Course with rounds of 77 and 81 and 21st at a WPGA Players Tour event at Blackwolf Run (79-81) and the Morgan Stanley Tour Championship at Washington County GC in Hartford (74-83).

It was a much different story in 2020.

Mercier, whose sophomore season at Powers Central was canceled by COVID-19, began the summer with a playoff victory over friend Ty Kretz of Marinette at the WPGA Players Tour event at Blackwolf Run after shooting rounds of 74 and 73 on the Meadow Valleys Course. That would be a foreshadowing of a season-long battle between the two regional rivals the rest of the summer.

After finishing tied for 10th in his debut at the WPGA Junior Championship in Milwaukee, Mercier rattled off consecutive victories on the Irish Course at Whistling Straits in the weather-shortened GCAW College Showcase with a 74 and in a WPGA Junior Tour event with a 72. One day later, Mercier fired a 67 to win a WPGA Junior Tour event at Brown County GC in Green Bay — his personal-best round in competition and the highlight of a summer in which he never shot higher than 76 and averaged 72.5 in 14 competitive rounds.

The son of a successful high school basketball coach, Mercier grew up with a pretty good understanding of what it takes to be the best at a sport. Adam Mercier coached Powers Central to three consecutive Michigan High School Athletic Association Class D state titles starting in 2015 and a state-record 84 consecutive wins before stepping down as coach after the 2017-18 season.

"Practice, practice, practice — and more practice," Bryson Mercier said, when asked what allowed him to see such significant improvement during the 2020 golf season. "There's not much you can do. Fundamentals are fundamentals, but — at the end of the day — it comes down to how much you practice.

"It's kind of a cliché, but in golf you can always get better. That's the good thing about it. There is not one day where you wake up and said 'Nah, I'm too good at golf; I don't need to work at anything.' It's such a tough ... sport where you always need to strive to get better."

With scholarship offers from Detroit Mercy and UW-Green Bay and a personal commitment to "appreciate" the recruiting process and the attention it has brought him, Mercier promises to reinforce his work ethic as he looks forward to 2021 with the motivation to prove that 2020 was just a start for him.

"This is a huge summer for me to back up what I did last summer," Mercier said. "That was my first year of really bursting onto the stage like I did. It's definitely a huge year for me to back that up with some more solid places in big tournaments and to just play well over the summer (in 2021)."

Bryson Mercier, 2020 WPGA Junior Boys Player of the Year

Bryson Mercier, 2020 WPGA Junior Boys Player of the Year

Mercier need only look to Kretz, who finished second in the 2020 WPGA Junior boys standings in what was essentially a two-player race, to realize that there is a lot of work left to gain more college attention.

Kretz won his first three starts on the WPGA Junior Tour in 2020, a sizzling start during which he twice shot 64; finished in the top 10 of three majors on the Wisconsin junior calendar, and made the 36-hole cut at the Wisconsin State Amateur at famous Milwaukee CC, finishing T38. However, as recently as November, Kretz said his three college scholarship offers were from NCAA Division I South Dakota State and UW-Green Bay as well as St. Thomas (Minn.), which will begin transitioning to Division I after the 2020-21 season.

Saying he will expand his 2021 schedule to include more amateur and, possibly, national junior events, Mercier will patiently continue to build a resume that he hopes will overshadow his 5-foot-4 frame. He is coming off a 4.0 semester in the classroom and now has a 3.7 cumulative grade-point average. Mercier, the president of the National Honor Society at his school, has mastered the art of outreach via social media and email to college coaches and others in his effort to make them aware of the great results he has seen the past 12 months.

"The whole COVID thing has put my class and the grade above me and the grade below me in a very unfortunate situation," Mercier said, acknowledging the glut of golfers on college rosters due to extra eligibility awarded current college athletes who lost seasons due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. "(College) coaches just don't know what they've got coming back, what players are going to stay for the extra year and what they've got for scholarships. I'm just kind of taking it one day at a time with the recruiting thing. After all, I'm only a junior. I have plenty of time to choose where I want to go.

"I'm just going to keep sending out my emails to coaches to update them on how I'm doing. I'm just going to kind of let it happen."

In his corner of the golf world, that's how people get there from here.

2020 WPGA Junior Boys Player of the Year Standings

RANKPLAYERPOINTS
1
2022, Powers, MI
1,347.50
2
2021, Marinette
1,293.33
3
2021, Delafield, WI
820.83
4
2020, Woodruff, WI
805.00
5
2024, Muskego, WI
751.25
6
2021, Madison, WI
698.17
7
2022, De Pere, WI
682.14
8
2022, Minocqua, WI
647.50
9
2024, Appleton, WI
644.67
10
AG
2021, Appleton, WI
641.24
11
2021, New Richmond, WI
637.50
12
2020, De Pere, WI
625.00
13
2021, Plover, WI
572.50
14
2023, Verona, WI
571.07
15
2021, Middleton, WI
553.33
16
JJ
2022, Green Bay, WI
550.42
17
2020, Kenosha, WI
525.00
18
2021, Waukesha, WI
516.40
19
2020, Fond Du Lac, WI
515.00
20
2020, Madison, WI
503.00
21
2021, Nashotah
492.50
22
2024, Eau Claire, WI
469.58
23
2023, Neenah, WI
464.92
24
2023, Madison, WI
409.34
25
2024, Nashotah, WI
406.67
26
2022, Lancaster, WI
401.00
27
JC
2020, Houghton, MI
400.00
28
2020, West bend, WI
397.50
29
RB
2020, Cottage Grove, WI
392.00
30
2023, Middleton, WI
389.57
31
2022, Green Bay, WI
376.07
32
2023, Baldwin, WI
372.23
33
2020, Sheboygan, WI
350.00
34
2021, Williams Bay, WI
343.50
35
2020, Cameron, WI
323.50
36
2022, Cottage Grove, WI
308.83
37
QB
2020, Pewaukee, WI
297.50
38
2021, Darien, WI
295.33
39
2023, Wales, WI
292.30
40
2021, Holmen, WI
272.67
41
2020, Menomonee Falls, WI
271.00
42
2021, Mequon, WI
250.00
43
2021, West Bend, WI
242.83
44
KG
2020, Verona, WI
240.00
45
MP
2021, North Prairie, WI
227.83
46
NT
2021, Cedarburg, WI
217.94
47
2021, Baldwin, WI
217.50
48
BK
2023, Hartland, WI
213.00
49
2020, Trevor, WI
207.50
50
DR
2022, Marshfield, WI
205.00
51
2021, Mequon, WI
194.50
52
2020, Mequon, WI
185.00
53
2022, Beloit, WI
172.83
54
2022, Lake Delton, WI
165.00
55
2021, La Crosse, WI
162.30
56
BS
2021, Hudson, WI
155.00
57
2022, Wauwatosa, WI
147.50
58
CT
2021, Germantown, WI
146.00
59
TM
2022, Lake Nebagamon, WI
141.00
60
TB
2020, Pewaukee, WI
137.50
61
2024, Janesville, WI
136.13
62
AJ
2022, Waunakee, WI
131.00
63
2023, Eau Claire
130.00
64
LS
2021, Eau Claire, WI
126.75
65
MX
2021, River Falls, WI
123.17
66
NB
2023, Cambridge, WI
122.57
67
2023, Milton, WI
120.75
68
2023, Appleton, WI
118.87
69
2023, Middleton, WI
117.49
70
2023, Fond du Lac, WI
116.09
71
AB
2023, Chippewa Falls, WI
113.17
72
2021, Franklin, WI
108.33
73
AS
2022, Verona, WI
105.57
74
2024, Milton, WI
105.17
75
LL
2022, Mequon, WI
103.67
76
MS
2023, Sheboygan, WI
99.80
77
2021, Norway, MI
99.58
78
2021, Whitefish Bay, WI
99.44
79
CB
2020, Onalaska, WI
98.50
80
2023, Madison, WI
94.58
81
2021, De Pere, WI
90.88
82
2021, Warrens, WI
87.50
83
2022, Grand Chute, WI
86.75
T84
2020, Appleton
85.00
T84
2022, Glencoe, IL
85.00
86
2021, Appleton, WI
81.17
87
IR
2021, Birnamwood, WI
78.75
88
BB
2023, Chippewa Falls, WI
77.67
89
CS
2021, Thiensville, WI
77.50
90
2022, Pewaukee, WI
77.23
91
2022, Seymour, WI
75.10
92
2022, Elm Grove, WI
74.83
93
2022, Green Bay, WI
73.75
94
2021, Waupaca, WI
73.30
95
2024, De Pere, WI
72.50
96
2022, Beloit, WI
72.00
97
TF
2021, Kenosha, WI
70.83
98
LD
2022, Jackson, WI
70.00
99
2024, Middleton, WI
68.50
100
JD
2021, Onalaska, WI
67.50
101
JR
2021, Verona, WI
67.17
102
JW
2023, De Pere
66.75
103
2022, Madison
64.00
104
MB
2020, De Pere, WI
62.93
105
PI
2021, Cudahy, WI
60.67
106
2022, Kaukauna
60.00
107
2021, Rice Lake, WI
58.00
108
TJ
2022, Berlin, WI
57.97
109
SH
2022, Green Bay, WI
57.43
110
WB
2021, Whitefish Bay, WI
57.33
111
SS
2022, Brookfield, WI
54.83
112
2023, Onalaska, WI
52.67
113
DB
2023, Antioch, IL
50.50
114
2021, Durand, WI
49.50
115
TS
2023, Sun Prairie, WI
49.00
116
OG
2022, Milwaukee, WI
48.50
117
2024, Waunakee
48.16
118
2020, Waunakee, WI
47.50
119
2021, Delafield, WI
46.25
120
BB
2024, Elm Grove, WI
46.00
121
IP
2022, Eau Claire, WI
45.50
122
NG
2022, Marathon, WI
45.33
T123
GG
2023, Hinsdale, IL
45.00
T123
HZ
2022, Helenville, WI
45.00
125
2022, Onalaska, WI
44.80
126
KS
2022, Ladysmith, WI
44.33
127
KM
2022, Shawano, WI
43.75
128
2024, Menominee, MI
42.50
129
RN
2025, Houston, MN
42.00
130
MA
2022, Sussex, WI
41.75
131
2021, Cambridge, WI
41.67
132
2021, Fond Du Lac, WI
40.90
133
2021, Kenosha, WI
40.00
134
MH
2024, Minocqua, WI
38.50
135
DJ
2024, Middleton, WI
38.00
136
HM
2023, Sheboygan, WI
37.77
T137
MH
2022, Fond du Lac, WI
37.50
T137
2022, Menomonee Falls, WI
37.50
139
ED
2021, Jackson, WI
37.33
140
GS
2023, Madison, WI
36.51
141
2022, Richfield, WI
35.83
142
2022, Roberts, WI
35.50
143
2022, Wauwatosa, WI
35.00
144
MB
2022, Sun Prairie, WI
34.33
145
2023, Milton, WI
33.90
146
2023, Delafield, WI
33.50
147
TB
2022, Dodgeville, WI
33.33
148
DA
2022, Norway, MI
32.99
149
AC
2020, Kewaskum, WI
32.83
T150
2023, Beloit, WI
32.50
T150
JR
2024, Mincoqua, WI
32.50
T150
BH
2024, Middleton, WI
32.50
T150
CB
2021, Horicon, WI
32.50
154
JD
2022, Appleton, WI
32.34
T155
BC
2023, Eau Claire, WI
31.92
T155
2023, Middleton, WI
31.92
157
PH
2023, Waukesha, WI
31.83
158
2021, Neenah, WI
31.67
159
2022, Neenah, WI
30.15
160
AH
2020, Milwaukee, WI
30.00
161
CR
2022, Waunakee, WI
29.67
162
JD
2022, Muskego, WI
28.33
163
MD
2022, Appleton, WI
27.92
T164
2023, White Bear Lake, MN
27.83
T164
2023, Kohler, WI
27.83
T164
TM
2021, Colgate, WI
27.83
167
2022, Elgin, IL
27.65
168
2023, Fox Point, WI
27.50
169
AA
2021, Verona, WI
27.33
T170
2021, Grafton, WI
26.50
T170
2023, Mineral Point, WI
26.50
172
SD
2022, La Crosse, WI
26.00
173
AR
2024, Appleton, WI
25.67
174
2019, Oconomowoc, WI
24.90
175
JP
2024, Pewaukee, WI
24.34
176
WK
2023, Winneconne, WI
23.00
T177
NH
2021, Strum, WI
22.50
T177
SS
2020, Mosinee, WI
22.50
T177
KF
2024, Iron ridge, WI
22.50
T177
2020, Merrill, WI
22.50
T181
SY
2021, Brookfield, WI
22.00
T181
2023, Janesville, WI
22.00
183
CH
2020, Chili, WI
21.00
184
EL
2025, Green Bay, WI
20.75
T185
CP
2024, Winneconne, WI
20.67
T185
TD
2022, Superior, WI
20.67
187
2022, Junction City, WI
20.50
188
MZ
2024, Hartford, WI
20.00
189
TC
2024, Eleva, WI
19.00
190
2023, Mequon, WI
17.33
191
2020, Richfield, WI
17.00
192
LT
2024, Holmen, WI
16.92
193
2021, Germantown, WI
16.33
194
2022, Hudson, WI
16.00
T195
QB
2022, Hudson, WI
15.00
T195
JC
2021, Brookfield, WI
15.00
197
2020, Mineral Point, WI
14.67
198
2022, Pewaukee, WI
14.66
199
IS
2022, Madison, WI
13.50
200
2024, Pewaukee, WI
12.00
201
CM
2024, Oshkosh, WI
11.25
T202
2022, Twin Lakes, WI
11.00
T202
WS
2021, Oconto, WI
11.00
204
BB
2022, Fort Atkinson, WI
10.40
205
2022, Freeport, IL
10.17
206
2021, Marinette, WI
10.10
207
2020, Green Bay, WI
10.00
208
2021, Sheboygan, WI
9.80
T209
DS
2021, Grafton, WI
8.50
T209
JA
2023, Lindenhurst, IL
8.50
211
2024, Colgate, WI
8.43
T212
CV
2025, Baldwin, WI
7.33
T212
CP
2021, Madison, WI
7.33
T212
DF
2022, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
7.33
215
TN
2024, Twin lakes, WI
7.00
216
2020, Monroe
6.75
T217
AH
2022, De Pere, WI
6.40
T217
PH
2022, Pewaukee, WI
6.40
T219
KB
2023, Chili, WI
6.25
T219
JB
2023, Tomah, WI
6.25
T219
SM
2022, DePere, WI
6.25
222
JN
2021, Pewaukee, WI
5.67
T223
EC
2021, Madison, WI
5.40
T223
2023, Sheboygan, WI
5.40
T223
2021, Pleasant Prairie, WI
5.40
T226
JC
2021, Marinette, WI
5.00
T226
2021, Hartland, WI
5.00
T226
AL
2019, Minocqua, WI
5.00
T226
BF
2024, Burlington, WI
5.00
T226
AH
2021, Lincolnshire, IL
5.00
T226
2021, Plymouth, WI
5.00
T226
2020, Lake Geneva, WI
5.00
T226
LS
2023, Oak Creek, WI
5.00
T226
2020, Minocqua, WI
5.00
T226
EW
2023, Mount Horeb, WI
5.00
T226
TB
2022, Suamico, WI
5.00
T226
2023, Menomonee Falls, WI
5.00
T226
RD
2022, Appleton, WI
5.00
T226
JH
2021, Dresser, WI
5.00
T226
RZ
2020, Janesville, WI
5.00
T226
LS
2023, Manitowoc, WI
5.00
T226
MA
2022, Black River Falls, WI
5.00
T226
JS
2022, Saint James, NY
5.00
T226
CC
2021, Wausau, WI
5.00
T226
CB
2021, Whitefish Bay
5.00
T246
JS
2023, Menomonee Falls, WI
4.00
T246
CV
2020, Hubertus, WI
4.00
T246
2024, Menomonee Falls, WI
4.00
T249
HT
2023, La Habra, CA
2.50
T249
BH
2023, Fond du Lac, WI
2.50
T249
2021, Cottage Grove, WI
2.50
T252
2026, Windsor, WI
1.25
T252
2025, Cottage Grove, WI
1.25
254
2020, Darien, WI
1.00

More from this Section