RIVERVIEW, Fla. — An ambitious 8-year-old golfer is putting in the work so she can be the best in the game.
Kylani Gathers has been swinging a golf club for nearly her entire life.
"When I was 3 years old, I did have plastic clubs," Kylani said. "Me and my dad would always hit them inside the house and we wouldn't break anything."
On her 7th birthday, she got her first set of real clubs.
"I bought the clubs and it was the best thing that could've happened," said her father, Corey Gathers. "She started hitting, stripping everything pretty well at that point."
"I started watching my dad and a lot of pros play on TV and I just wanted to play golf so bad," Kylani said.
She's on the driving range at least twice a week, hitting between 400-500 balls. She travels across the Southeast, competing in U.S. Kids Golf tournaments. Her first contest didn't go so well.
"She signed up for her first tournament at Disney, and she placed dead last. If not, close to last," Kylani's dad said. "I thought she was going to quit. I thought she didn't want anything to do with it. But it kind of lit a fire."
"Because I wanted to get better every time. If you keep going then you ended up being good. I just wanted to be that good," Kylani said.
The drive to be the best led her to a 9-under first-place finish at the Jim Thorpe Invitational and another invite to Pinehurst in North Carolina for the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship.
With every ping of the ball on the driving range, Kylani gets a step closer to her dream of becoming a professional golfer.
"I want to be a professional golfer on the LPGA Tour when I grow up and win a lot of money," Kylani said.
The U.S. Kids Golf World Championship begins on Aug. 4.
This story was originally published by Kyle Burger on Scripps station WFTS in Tampa, Florida.