As a teenager, Country newcomer Jake Owen dreamed of becoming a professional golfer. A sport injury later ended that dream, but proved to be the gateway for his career in music.

Jake Owen made his first appearance on the Country chart earlier this year with "Yee Haw." Its success led to the recent Top 10 entry of his debut album Startin' With Me, which features 11 songs that Jake wrote or co-wrote.

While Jake was growing up in Vero Beach, Florida, a career in music was the furthest thing from his mind. He says he planned to be a professional golfer, and, one day, compete against his idol, Tiger Woods. That plan changed, however, when he was involved in a serious water-skiing accident during college. His injuries were so severe that he had to have reconstructive surgery. To pass the time while he recuperated, Jake taught himself to play a guitar he borrowed from his neighbor.

Jake eventually formed his first band, Yee Haw Junction, which became a popular favorite at local clubs. When he added his own songs to the group's performances, Jake realized it was time to quit college and move to Nashville. Within two years, he signed a recording deal with RCA Records.

"You Can Thank Dixie," featuring Alabama's lead singer Randy Owen, who's no relation to Jake, is a tribute to his southeastern U.S. homeland. Also included on Startin' With Me is a track called "Ghosts," which was one of the first songs Jake wrote after arriving in Nashville. Country superstar Kenny Chesney put a hold on the song, but later decided it wouldn't work on his album and urged Jake to record it himself.

Jake has been a fan of Kenny's for many years. "I remember sitting in the nosebleed section at the Leon County Civic Center when I was at Florida State, watching him run all over that stage and the audience was going crazy," he says. "I thought 'that's what I'm going to do someday'." Jake is not only doing it, but he recently opened concerts for Kenny, an experience he describes as "surreal."