COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Growing up in Georgia, JonErik Alford never thought golf would bring him all the way to Ohio.

“Coach [Jay] Moseley I would say is the reason I’m here,” the Ohio State men’s golfer said. “I was committed to Kennesaw State before, which is where he was a coach and then he took [the Ohio State head coach] job, so then I followed him up here.”

Once Alford got to Columbus, he never thought he would leave the game for a few years.

“I’m a 5th year sophomore is the joke on the team,” he said with a laugh. “I’m old but I’m kind of young playing wise.”

It all started as a freshman when Alford needed shoulder surgery.

“I thought I was going to be out 6 months. It ended up being 12-15 months,” he said.

Then, the inexplicable happened. Alford had issues with his throat making it hard to breathe and eat, which also took a toll on his body.

As a result, he was unable to play golf at a high level for three and a half years. Doctors still haven’t found a diagnosis.

“It’s gotten better throughout bit by bit,” Alford said.

Alford has been able to play every event this season, and he’s been one of Ohio State’s most consistent performers.

Now, this ‘fifth-year’ sophomore is headed to the NCAA national tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona as part of the Buckeyes’ team contingent.

“There is always a chance to come back in this game. People do it in a lot of different ways and kind of resurrect themselves,” Alford said. “I originally got here and played because I was good at the game but now I really do love it. I happen to be playing it better because of that.”