As the steady drizzle turned into a persistent, cold rain shower last Saturday at Heritage Links Golf Club, hopeful golfers caught a few segments of a Masters preview show on television, then reluctantly accepted rain checks from the pro shop cashier.

Almost tranquilly, Tomas Adalsteinsson walked to the vacant driving range, toting a 6-iron and a small bucket of neon practice balls.

Gray clouds. Cold rain. The first-year Lakeville South boys' golf coach blocked it all out. He was right at home in his new home.

A native of Iceland, Adalsteinsson grew up a diehard soccer player before a foot injury in his early teens forced him to concentrate more on golf.

"I played soccer since I was 5 and by the time I was 8 or 9, my parents asked me to play at their [golf] club, but I was like, 'Not a chance,'" he said. "But it kind of took over."

Regardless of the conditions, Adalsteinsson honed his game year-round in his hometown just outside of Reykjavik. Before he knew it, he was recording PGA Tour events on VHS tapes and playing them on repeat.

Adalsteinsson, 28, played on Icelandic national teams by the time he was through with high school. In 2000, his individual score placed him tied for 25th in the European boys' team championship. The 7-over-par mark was one better than Scotland's Martin Laird, now a two-time winner on the PGA Tour who finished tied for 57th last weekend at Augusta National.

Adalsteinsson has caddied for major champions Padraig Harrington and Trevor Immelman during their stops in Iceland for pro-am events. But the psychology of sports always has interested Adalsteinsson more than the game itself, and it's what brought him to the United States four years ago in search of a master's degree.

He came with one suitcase, his guitar and no set place to live. He left John F. Kennedy University near San Francisco ready to shape young minds.

Along with his background as a competitor, he brings that philosophy to the Cougars program.

"Four components: physical, mental, technical and tactical," said Adalsteinsson, who is self-employed as a mental conditioning consultant along with his wife, a Lakeville native. "[Students] need to practice all four. It's not just your swing; it's getting in the gym, setting goals and knowing where your focus should be."

It's early yet -- Lakeville South's first competition of the season is Thursday at an event in Iowa -- but Adalsteinsson said the Cougars have bought into his philosophy.

That's not surprising news to Activities Director Neil Strader, who said Adalsteinsson was the first person to apply for the vacant head coaching position.

"For myself as a hack golfer, I know how important the mental part of the game is," Strader said. "For a competitive golfer, the mental side of golf can shave two, three, five strokes off your game pretty quickly if the right guy is in your head the right way. Tomas has a style that fits in really well with our kids. After he left [his job interview] we knew we had a good one."