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Bray Plays Today for Tomorrow

Student athletes, however, usually find they have too many things to do and never enough time.

North Carolina men's golfer Dustin Bray is no different.

"I don't have a lot of free time, which suits me just fine," Bray said in a telephone interview from Atlanta.

Since school and the season ended in late spring, Bray has not slowed down.

This week, Bray is in Atlanta for the 35th Dogwood Invitational, a four-round tournament at Druid Hills Golf Club that features the top amateur golfers from around the country.

In early June, Bray was named to the PING All-America second team, which brought him to New York for several days with the rest of the team.

In mid-July, Bray will participate in the USA vs. Japan Collegiate Golf Championships at The Glen Club in Glenview, Ill.

The Golf Coaches Association of America chooses the U.S. squad, and the annual event is organized by the Japan Student Golf Association.

"It's a huge honor," Bray said of his selection. "Representing your country is one of the things everyone wants to do. You want to be looked at as one of your nation's leaders."

The tournament is a match play format, meaning golfers compete to win holes, rather than stroke play, where golfers shoot for the lowest overall score.

That does not cause any concern for Bray.

"I enjoy match play," he said. "I don't know what my game is suited for. Sometimes I show up and wish I was playing match play. Sometimes I show up and I wish I was playing stroke play. It all depends on the mindset."

Bray said he views the tournament as a "stepping stone" and hopes to pull a lot from the experience.

The U.S. team holds a 19-6 advantage in the event, which is being played on U.S. soil for just the fifth time.

Bray, a rising junior from Asheboro, said the thing he enjoys most about golf is "walking off the golf course knowing you gave it everything you've got," he said.

Bray has been playing golf since he was 4, after his father got him involved.

"It wasn't something he pushed on me, though," Bray said. "It was more of a self-development thing."

Bray said he plays as much as possible but no less than four days a week.

The summer is the best time to play, as opposed to the intense fall and spring collegiate seasons, where "you pull for each other, and competition is different," Bray said.

"You get to go out there and do your own thing (in the summer)," he said. "Summer golf is preparation for the future."

Of UNC, Bray said, "I just love everything about it. We have the best facilities in the country."

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Bray won this year's individual ACC Championship at Old North State Club in New London, shooting 66-67-72 (205 total).

In addition to the ACC championship, Bray also won The Prestige, held in Palm Desert, Calif., last November.

After the golf team qualified for the NCAA tournament, Bray said, he did not alter his mindset or establish unattainable goals.

"I just wanted to go out and perform like I knew I could," he said.

True to form, he shot back-to-back 68s in the first two rounds, but then he lost his stroke.

In the final two rounds, Bray shot 75-72, finishing in 17th place.

"That's just the way it goes," Bray said. "It's a crazy game."

Bray called both his season and the team's season "improvements."

"I did a lot of the things I wanted to do as an individual," he said. "As a team, it was a big confidence booster proving to ourselves we could play with about anybody."

Bray gushed over the courses he's had the opportunity to play, but the one he wants to play most is Augusta National -- but only if he's a part of the field in The Masters.

"I think it'd be weird to go out and play that golf course without people around," he said. "That's when golf's fun to me -- when there's people watching."

Bray may be a few years away from The Masters, but his future looks bright nevertheless.

He has two years of eligibility remaining, where he will no doubt improve, and professional aspirations drive him to succeed.

"I'm at Carolina to play golf," he said. "That's what I want to do with my life ... so that's where I'm going to focus my attention.

"My main goal is for everything to pay off," he added. "I'm not going to put this much time and energy into something and not have it pay off."

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