ORLANDO, Fla. — Nick Mazurek has never been one to shy from competition.

And now, the former two-time Courier Publications/VillageSoup schoolboy athlete of the year and 24-year-old Orlando, Fla. resident has his sights set on taking his much-improved golf game to the next level.

Mazurek, who moved to Florida two years ago and works at Orange County National Golf Center in Winter Harbor, has played — and excelled — on a small scale tour in central Florida.

And now, the 2016 Oceanside High School graduate prepares for the most important tournament of his life in a Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school pre-qualifier.

The three-day, 54-hole event is scheduled for Wednesday through Friday, Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at RTJ Golf Trail on the Senator Course at Capitol Hill in Prattville, Ala.

The Korn Ferry Tour is, for all intents and purposes, professionally, the minor leagues of the PGA Tour.

Mazurek most recently played college golf two years at Husson University in Bangor before he moved to Florida. Since then, he said his game “is the best it’s ever been” and is excited to potentially take the next step in his development.

“I wasn’t really expecting to do what I’m doing right now,” said Mazurek. “But once I got down here and started playing golf and started practicing the right way, I made some big jumps pretty quickly. And I thought I might as well give this a shot. I’ve always been competitive and want to be the best I can be at everything, and I couldn’t think of a better way than to start entering professional events.”

In March, Mazurek began to play tournaments on The Moonlight Tour, which is advertised as “a great place to warm up for bigger events or just try out something new you’re working on.”

The tour features about 50 tournaments per year and can average as few as 10 players or as many as 45, depending on the time of year, Mazurek said.

“In the wintertime, when its cold around the country, a lot of guys flock down to Florida and the fields are a lot higher,” he said. “Like there’s guys that have played and won on PGA Tours playing Moonlight events.”

Mazurek won the first event he played in on March 30 at Black Bear Golf Club, as he fired a 67 and tied for the win with two other golfers in the 25-player field.

“That there to me was [a sign],” Mazurek said. “That maybe it’s not just something I’m imagining in my head. I actually can compete with these guys.”

While that is his only win after playing in more than a dozen Moonlight Tour events, he said his game is “trending in the right direction” as he begins to prepare for the Korn Ferry Tour qualifier.

“It is just a mini tour, but it’s not a joke,” he added of the Moonlight Tour. “You’ve got to go out and shoot 66 to win any of those events. You can’t shoot even par. A lot of time shooting even par doesn’t even make you any money.”

Where Mazurek holds no amateur status or exemptions, he must participate in one of the six pre-qualifying events, which will take in Georgia, Texas, Nebraska, North Carolina, California and Alabama.

Roughly the same number of players from each pre-qualifier will advance to the first qualifying stage, which will be a 72-hole tournament run at 12 different sites throughout September.

The second qualifying stage — for those who qualify — will be another 72-hole tournament run at five sites through October before the final stage of the tournament — for those who qualify — will play out Nov. 4-7 at The Landings Golf Club in Savannah, Ga.

Mazurek said the most significant contributor to his drastic improvements in his game, is simply time. Golf in Florida is a year-round endeavor, while in the Northeast, you have, at best, six months to hone your craft.

“It honestly just comes down to time,” he said. “Putting time in. I think it’s always been there a little but, but I’d just never put the time into this game like I had other games like baseball and stuff like that. I never really put the effort into this game like that until I got here to Florida.”

Mazurek was a three-sport athlete during his days at Oceanside High School and excelled in baseball, basketball and golf. He was a two-time state golf champion and helped the Mariner basketball team win a regional title his senior year, but baseball, arguably, was his best sport as he could not only pitch and hit at a high level, but still holds numerous school records.

He was primed for what appeared a strong college and perhaps, just perhaps, a professional baseball career.

However, he suffered a ulnar cruciate ligament (UCL) tear playing in a preseason college baseball game as a freshman at Southern New Hampshire University, which derailed his chances at furthering his diamond career and put him on the path to pursuing golf full-time.

He has opted against surgery at this point as “it doesn’t affect the golf swing at all.”

“There’s only a few lifts in the gym that causes pain to it,” he said. “That won’t heal unless I get the surgery, which I haven’t gotten yet. So it’s still technically torn in there, but I’m going to ride the pain-free golf swing as long as I can.”

And with his sights set on the Korn Ferry Tour qualifier, Mazurek is going to continue to do what he has done in the field of athletics his entire life: Compete, and do so at a high level.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s not easy, by any means. So many of the guys down here are so, so good. But as long as I keep going in the direction that I’m going, I’m going to keep going.”

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