As Paul Gonzalez walked off of soggy golf course in Dallas on Sunday, he had proven to himself and the rest of the field that he had the game to compete.
His short game had been sharp, driver on line and he kept the mental side in check. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had different plans.
Thunderstorms shortened the 110th Texas Amateur Championship from the originally planned 72 holes to 54, which meant Gonzalez's final round charge to 11-under par was also wiped from the records at the Dallas Athletic Club.
The 2017 Waxahachie graduate began the final day in fifth place — six shots back of the leader — at 5-under par. He then made the turn at six-under on the day (11-under overall) and was tied for the lead as he stepped onto the 10th tee box.
Not long after, the rain came and quite literally washed away his Sunday charge.
He ultimately finished the tournament tied for third, carding a 5-under par (67-73-71) through three rounds. Baylor University golfer Ryan Grider won the rain-shortened tournament with a 205, 11-under par total through 54 holes.
Gonzalez credited his pre-round focus on the task at hand for the hot start Sunday.
"I was just really focused on what I wanted that day, and that was winning the Texas Am," he explained. "I kind of knew that if I got off to a good start that I could keep it going on that course and I knew that there would be a little wind, but I just kept focused on taking it one shot at a time and focusing on my routine.
"During the tournament, I had all of these thoughts going through my head like, 'Oh, wow, you're really low,' but I kept telling myself to settle down and go through my routine."
Though the Sunday performance is only recorded in this article and a few others around the area, it was one that provided Gonzalez an abundance of confidence ahead of, arguably, an even bigger tournament and opportunity — the 25th annual Sahalee Players Championship.
According to the tournament website, "invitations to the Sahalee Players Championship are extended only to the finest amateur players worldwide."
The opportunity to compete against some of the best amateurs in the country July 1-3 in Sammamish, Washington is one that has Gonzalez genuinely excited.
"I know a few players, who are now pro, that played in it in the past. And they are really good players," he said. "So it kind of lets me know that, well, there are a group of players who are always there each year and it gives me an opportunity to play against them and that is very cool."
According to its website, the tournament is played on the same course that hosted the 1998 PGA Championship (won by Vijay Singh), 2002 World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational (Craig Parry), 2010 USGA Senior Open (Bernhard Langer), and the 2016 KPMG LPGA Championship (Brooke Henderson).
Its field has produced PGA tournament champions such as Peter Uihlein, Nick Taylor, Daniel Summerhays, Kyle Stanley, Ryan Moore, Aaron Oberholser and Jason Gore. Past participants include Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Adam Hadwin, Ryan Fox, Kevin Chappell and Beau Hossler.
Gonzalez will, however, need a little community support to join that group.
Though almost too humble to acknowledge it, Gonzalez is quite astute to the fact that the amateur golf circuit does come with a hefty price tag. It's a large part of why exceptional high school golfers decide to attend four-year universities instead of opting for an early pro career, mini circuits, Q-School or the amateur circuit.
There are entry fees, of course. But the golfer still has to get to the tournament and sleep somewhere other than the clubhouse. Meals are optional at times but preferred, as are golf balls not previously fished out of a creek line.
"I have been so thankful and so grateful for all of the support that I have had so far," said Gonzalez of the community contributions he has received this summer. "I wouldn't have been able to go to the tournament last week in Georgia or even this tournament [in Dallas]. Amateur golf is not free. There is always a price or an entry fee associated with it. The support that I have had so far is unreal."
The fundraising approach is quite different than what Gonzalez experiences during the golf season as a member of the University of Texas at Arlington men's golf team.
Gonzalez is fresh off of a sophomore season at UTA where he posted a 72.9 scoring average. The season-long performance, which was one of the best in UTA men's golf history, landed Gonzalez on the All-Sun Belt second team.
He currently boasts the third-best career scoring average (73.42), which comes after 62 rounds of collegiate golf.
"The last few tournaments we had as a team this past semester, we kind of came together as a team and started pushing each other more and more," he recalled. "It was really cool to see the guys shoot really low scores and then, for me, to play as well as I did in the conference was kind of a huge turning point for me confidence-wise."
Gonzalez also recorded a 76-or-better in 29-of-his-30 collegiate rounds this past season.
Following the season-long performance, UTA head golf coach Casey Devoll told the university's media department that Gonzalez would "use this as a springboard."
Devoll was right.
Gonzalez fired a five-under 65 in the final round of the Sun Belt Championship in May and he's clearly carried that momentum into his summer season with a T-19 finish at the Dogwood Invitations (9-under, Georgia) and his T-3 at the Texas Amateur this past weekend.
Gonzalez said he hopes to continue his hot hand and swing into the Independence Day weekend in Washington.
"It's a really big opportunity and I am going to keep working hard and feed off of these past two tournaments because they were both two good tournaments in themselves," he said. "I have learned a lot about my game and who I am throughout each round and I have to continue to apply that in my practice. I plan to practice hard this next week or two so that the rounds can see easier.
"I would say, that, at the end of the day, whether I receive support through a GoFundMe or just a 'hey, good luck,' it never goes unnoticed. I appreciate every ounce of support that I get and just having the community around me helps propel me toward my goals, I think."
If interested in contributing to Gonzalez's summer tournament fund, visit https://ca.gofundme.com/f/paul-summer-tournaments-2019. He needs about $800 to make the trip to the Sahalee Players Championship on July 1-3. As of Friday afternoon, his GoFundMe sat at $1,370, which was largely used for the first two tournaments.