Ohio golfer overcomes birth defect to win conference player of the year honors

Dublin Jerome (Ohio) High's Mert Selamet looks like your typical No.1 golfer: Picture-perfect swing, solid short game and the ability to limit the mistakes on the course. Mert Selamet is no doubt going places on the golf course. Dublin Jerome's best player helped his team to a thrilling three-shot win last season at the 2011 Division I state tournament, where he shot 76-76 to finish fourth in the individual standings.

This year was more of the same for Selamet, who currently carries a 72.92 stroke average, managed to break 70 on five different occasions and was recently named the Ohio Capital Conference Cardinal Division player of the year. He was also named to the 2012 Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team thanks to an impressive 4.77 GPA. There's no question Selamet is going places.

As The Columbus Dispatch reported, Selamet's managed to thrive on the course despite walking with a noticeable limp that's made it difficult to get around the course for 18 holes.

It's a gift that Selamet is able to walk. He was born with constriction bands — fiber from the ruptured amniotic sac in the womb — just above his ankles. The bands wrap around the fetus and can restrict blood flow to the limbs.

Selamet has scars above his ankles from four surgeries he underwent before turning a year old and a fifth when he was in elementary school.

While the birth defect has certainly affected his ability to traverse the fairways with ease, it hasn't stopped Selamet from turning into one of the top players in Ohio with a swing that's worthy of a college scholarship. At 5-feet-7 and 150 pounds, he's certainly not the longest player on the team, but his will and determination to be the best has made everyone stand up and take notice.

"My drives usually are 20 yards to 30 yards shorter than the other guys' because my legs aren't as stable," Selamet told The Columbus Dispatch. "I'll step forward or backward after some shots. It's like the Ali shuffle.

"But the way I look at it, I play the same course as everyone else — the same tees, same fairways and same greens. I don't view myself as handicapped. I just don't hit the ball as far, and it's not that huge a difference."

Selamet said he's still on the fence about playing in college because teams sometimes have to play 36 holes in one day, but based on the 18-year-old's love for the game and his positive outlook, you get the feeling he could make it happen.

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