Kyle Lograsso arrived yesterday at Edgmont Country Club looking as if he meant business, from his white "TW" visor with sunglasses resting on the top of the brim, to his dark-blue Pinehurst polo shirt, to his plaid shorts and two-tone golf shoes.
He did. The 5-year-old Telford boy attracted more attention when he reached into his bag of cut-down, lefthanded clubs and hit every shot straight on a perfect arc. Many a fascinated grown-up approached Kyle, asking the same question: "Do you want to be the next Tiger Woods?"
In a quiet yet confident voice, Kyle replied, "Yes." But he already has achieved something that means more than Woods' many trophies.
Kyle Lograsso has survived cancer.
His left eye was removed when he was 2 after he was found to have retinoblastoma, an affliction that affects fewer than 250 children annually, in both eyes. Shortly after surgery, he developed a blood infection and barely pulled through.
"Ever since the first interview I did about him, everybody calls him the next Tiger," said Jeff Lograsso, Kyle's father. "But we're just happy he's Kyle, because two years ago, Tiger Woods was as far out of our mind as anything. It was just Kyle surviving.
"I tell him all the time, 'Tiger Woods is great, but you've beaten cancer, and cancer doesn't compare to Tiger, it doesn't compare to Phil [Mickelson], it doesn't compare to any golf course you've ever played. You've beaten that. Everything else is easy.'
"So if he makes it [as the next Tiger Woods], wonderful. But if he doesn't, he's with us, and that's all that counts."
The lack of an eye doesn't slow Kyle down one bit. For him, the ultimate fun appears to be having a club in his hands and a ball at his feet.
He has the mannerisms of PGA Tour players down. After he sank a 30-foot putt on the practice green to a round of applause, he thrust his fist in the air. A narrow miss left him bent over in agony for several seconds.
So what does this polite and personable child like so much about golf?
"I like putting, chipping, driving," Kyle said.
"Watching Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on TV," he said when asked again a minute later.
He said he liked Mickelson because he is lefthanded. But when pressed about which player he likes better, he replied, "Tiger Woods."
He also said he'd like to play Woods one day and "beat his records."
Kyle became interested in golf before his second birthday when his father, a Marine staff sergeant, was stationed in Japan. The family traveled to Korea for a softball tournament and the hotel television was tuned to the Golf Channel, although there were no golfers in the family.
"He was amazed; he was mesmerized," said Kyle's father, who now lives with his wife and three children in Telford, which straddles Bucks and Montgomery Counties. "Later, he would take a stick from outside and swing it. Someone got him a golf club our second or third day there, and he never let it go."
A short time later, however, Lograsso and his wife, Regina, noticed a small white circle in their son's eye, and they eventually sought medical attention. One doctor called it a cataract, but another said he feared cancer in both eyes.
After Kyle underwent a battery of tests in Hawaii, the family flew to Philadelphia, where Kyle was examined by Carol Shields, codirector of oncology at Wills Eye Institute. Then came the shocking news.
"Dr. Shields told us, 'With cancer, I don't sugarcoat anything, but if you don't remove Kyle's eye within three months, he'll be dead,' " Jeff Lograsso recalled.
About six weeks after his second birthday, Kyle had his eye removed. Six months of chemotherapy to battle tumors in his right eye followed, but he had to courageously fight through a blood infection during that time.
Lograsso said the goal now was for Kyle to remain cancer-free through May so that the MRI and eye exams under anesthesia that his son must endure can stop.
There is also the matter of Kyle's artificial eye.
"He's had to have the eye repaired eight times," his father said. "I think that's because he's the son of a Marine, a little stubborn, and he's a boy. He's never taken his eye and teed it up and tried to hit it, so that's good. But he did sneak it into a cereal box once and his sister ate it, so that was pretty funny."
Kyle has two sisters, Kristen, 13, and Kaley, 11. The family has received requests from all over the country inviting Kyle to outings. Lograsso doesn't like to say no, but it's difficult.
Still, father and son went from Edgmont to Huntingdon Valley yesterday for the Coaches vs. Cancer outing, missing a day of kindergarten at Grasse Elementary School in Perkasie.
"The more his story is told," Lograsso said, "the better it is for anybody with afflictions of the eye or anybody struggling against cancer, because it's a great story."
Kyle was a guest yesterday of the United States Blind Golf Association, which is holding its annual national championship today and tomorrow at Edgmont.
The USBGA held a clinic for nearly two dozen blind junior golfers from Overbrook School for the Blind and St. Lucy School for children with visual impairments, both in Philadelphia. Edgmont head pro Harry Heagy and touring pro Ed Dougherty led the teachers.