No Azaleas

By: Mike Anthony news services

Over a whirlwind 48-hour span, the entire sports world came to a halt. Over the course of a few days.

What started with the NBA suspending its season quickly turned into the NHL following suit, MLB nerve wracking days, a domino effect went into full effect; suspending all operations in the middle of spring training and every collegiate sport coming to a screeching halt.

Lifelong sports fans were in a sort of state of shock as each news update brought about worse news and more cancelations.

By the time Friday, March 13 rolled around, the gravity of the situation still hadn’t quite set in, with plenty of rumors circulating about how quickly everything could get back on track.

And then it happened. The Masters – a shining jewel in American sports and one of the most fiercely protected events and brands in the world – put its annual tournament on hold.

Calendars, warmer weather and the beginning of baseball aside, anyone with roots to the south knows that the true arrival of spring comes during four magical days in April when the world’s best golfers descend upon Augusta National Golf Club.

It is possibly the most mythicized and celebrated tournament in all of sports. It gets played amongst the backdrop of an impossible green and vibrant course.

It has always been a hint to the sports world that it is safe to come outside and play for the spring and summer months.

But just like everything else, the Masters will also be empty.

If there’s one bit of silver lining, it’s that the official scoreboard for the Masters reads ‘postponed’ where so many other events are canceled outright.

Communications from Augusta National have stressed that efforts will be made to hold the tournament at some point. There have also been rumors floating out of Augusta that the club might be aiming for a Masters held in the fall as the course usually shuts down during the summer months.

For as much as the stoppage of other sports stung, the postponement of the Masters may have been the signal to the sports world that the response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic isn’t an overreaction, but rather a very urgent and necessary step to protect the masses.

No golf at Augusta in April is like the constant halts to trading on stock exchange floors. It’s the near total halt of international travel. It’s the empty shelves in stores and longtime local businesses that are now shuttered.

It’s a punch in the gut, is what it is. But hopefully a measure that will work out once the world catches its breath.

This is already guaranteed to be a sports year unlike any other. Here’s hoping that we still get our tradition unlike any other.


Golden Award From Golden Bear

By: Rich Styles news services

Mark David Johnson Jr, lives on St. Simons Island, Ga. He decided to go to school at Western Carolina in NC.

After a couple of years, he decided that he wanted to come home and go to college. He called Coastal Georgia’s golf coach, Mike Cook, and told him he wanted to come home and play golf on the school’s team. Coach Cook said, “of course….come on.”

That was two years ago. Since then, Johnson’s golf game has exploded.

After transferring, his golf game reached new heights. He won several tournaments and earned individual honors including Player of the Year for NAIA, Coastal Georgia’s Men’s Student-Athlete of the Year and most recently, The Jack Nicklaus Award for NAIA Division. Quite a senior year.

Coastal Georgia went to a tournament in Mesa, AZ at the Las Sendas Golf Club. A course, Johnson and the other team members had not played.

They studied the course on the internet. Johnson knew the conditions of the course would be different than others he played throughout his young career.

So, he practiced on similar grass. He chipped and putted for hours. He would also play on various courses but he practiced his short game more than most. It payed off in a big way. His senior year was marked by several wins and a couple of second places until AZ.

At Las Sendas Golf Club, his team was behind by 15 strokes going into the final round.  He and his team mates knew they had to have a great day to catch up.

They caught up but fell short of the team title. Johnson finished tied for first individual honors and entered into a playoff for the title.

He had birdied the 18th hole during the first three rounds, then in the final round, a bogey. The three stepped to the tee on the playoff hole and he knew that he needed to hit quality shots. He did. The others did not.

Johnson birdied the first playoff hole to win the NAIA Individual title and became the first player in the history of Coastal Georgia’s men’s golf program to do so. Coach Cook said, “he is the best player in NAIA this year and it has been sweet to coach him.”

When I interviewed both Coach Cook and Johnson, they both smiled talking about their relationship since his transfer from Western Carolina.

Johnson’s game exploded with winning title after title and then winning the Jack Nicklaus Award for NAIA. He was one of five winners of the award, one for each college division. What does that do for him? Just an opportunity to play one of the hardest golf courses, with a slope rating of 76, for an exemption into a PGA Tour event in July.

He did not win but he did get his chance to meet and talk with 18 Major winner, Jack Nicklaus in Ohio.

As I talked with Johnson on the range at Retreat, he said he didn’t play well against the other division winners, he just could not get his game going. You have to drive the ball well and the rough was…..well let’s say very rough.

On Sunday in a crowded room, he and the others were to receive the award from Jack Nicklaus. Johnson said Jack’s wife Barbara came into the room first and greeted them.

Then the room became silent waiting for the PGA Tour legend.

In he came with his gray jacket and tie, he greeted and took photos with each winner. Johnson said he stayed and talked for over an hour. What a treat and a once in a lifetime experience that will go into his memory bank forever.

One final note, the winner of the Memorial, Patrick Cantley, was a Jack Nicklaus award winner and now a PGA Tour winner. Johnson knows that and looks forward to the challenges ahead of him after graduation.

Congratulations, Mark David Johnson. Well done and well deserved.


Tiger Stripes

By: Mike Anthony news services

Much was made about Tiger Woods’ win at The Masters in April, and for good reason.

Not only did Woods win his 15th major championship, thus stoking the fire on questions about whether he can reach Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record of 18, but he did so after a long and improbable comeback.

Just over a year ago, Woods was barely able to swing a golf club, much less stare down the best players in the world in the game’s most famous tournament.

Before his back issues, there were also well-documented personal setbacks for Woods, leading many to say that the living legend was simply beating himself.

The funny thing is that beating himself – or, rather, a handful of golfers modeling themselves in his image – is exactly what Tiger had to do to claim another major.

When Woods burst onto the pro golf scene in 1996, his approach to the game was different than anything that had been seen before.

Instead of hitting the steakhouse after a round, Tiger spent hours on the range and putting green obsessing over the things that would benefit him the next day.

Instead of palling around with other golfers for a few drinks late at night, Tiger was early to bed and early to rise, putting in running and workouts before a round to help build the overwhelming power that made some traditional course layouts obsolete.

Time is undefeated and untied. No one ever thought that Woods would be hitting 330-yard drives and playing the same number of tournaments at this point of his career. And that wouldn’t be much of a problem if he was still battling the same fields of the 90s and early 00s.

But a very significant byproduct of Woods’ rise to prominence was the impact he had on the generations of golf that came after him. He not only inspired kids to play the game – he inspired them to play HIS game.

So, when Tiger got sidetracked by some bad personal choices and then had his body start to fail him, he wasn’t left with the task of getting back to the point of competing with the likes of the turn-of-the-millennium forty-somethings that he had become accustomed to beating.

Instead, the standard that Woods had to build back up to was that of guys like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Brooks Koepka.

Not only is the top competition for Tiger now young enough to be one of his kids, it’s also had an entire lifetime’s worth of training and attacking the game in the mold set by Tiger more than two decades ago.

And where Woods may have had to search far and wide for a good gym or an indoor hitting bay to get in his extra work 20 years ago, today’s stars have had advances in technology and the added money and interest (thanks to the notoriety brought to the game by Tiger) fueling their training.

So, when Tiger made his Sunday charge at Augusta – and when he tees it up this week at Bethpage Black – he is still battling himself. Everywhere he looks, he’ll be surrounded by teens and twenty somethings who can hit it a mile, have tons of strength and stamina due to exercise and nutrition, and who take preparation and course management far more seriously than the generations of players before it.

Tiger dominated so thoroughly, and for so long, that there was almost no bar left to clear. His influence inadvertently gave him his toughest challenge yet and he was able to conquer that as well.

There’s no telling if Woods can repeat that greatness in a major. Especially since the competition is only getting better while he is only getting older.

But for at least the next week, Tiger Woods is still on top of the golf world, and there is still the prospect for golf fans of seeing a larger-than-life legend do his thing once again.

Teeing It Up For SEC Crown

By: Rich Styles news services

The SEC golf teams converged to Sea Island Resort for the 18th consecutive year to play their golf championship.

They played three days of individual and team play, then after elimination of sex teams, the remaining eight teams competed in match play. The results were surprising.

Auburn as a team smoked the other teams and led the team competition to get into the match play as the #1 seed. Auburn won by 16 shots. They shot -24 while the second-place team, Vanderbilt, shot -8.

Then followed in order by Texas A&M, +3, Kentucky +3, Georgia +6, Tennessee +6, Arkansas +15, South Carolina +16, LSU +17, Ole Miss +22, Missouri +35, Florida +35, Mississippi +38 and Alabama +42. The top 8 teams after Friday’s round advance to match play. The other teams went home.

Individual honors went to Auburn’s Jovan Rebula who beat his own mate, Graysen Huff in a playoff. Many of the past individuals who have won are now on either the PGA Tour or Tour.

Past champions include Michael Thompson (Alabama), Bobby Wyatt (Alabama), Lee McCoy (Georgia), Billy Horschel (Florida), Patton Kizzire (Auburn) and Justin Thomas (Alabama).

Several current PGA Tour players including Keith Mitchell (Georgia) and Thompson walked the par-70 Seaside course to watch their college teams.

On Friday, Seaside showed its teeth with strong winds that resulted in the 14 teams shooting a combined 214 over-par for the day. To play even par with the wind conditions was considered by many as playing under par.

To be able to play even in those conditions was nothing short of patience and determination. Many of these college golfers were being watched by their parents, friends and family and by sports agencies and club manufacturers who would like certain handpicked players to play their brand.

The crowds were about 300-400 people winding their way around the scenic course that hosts the RSM Classic in November.

Over the weekend, the top 8 teams played match play with one team being eliminated each round. That brought #1 seeded Auburn against #7 seed Arkansas on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

The crowds watched some great golf and like many sports, where you finish in the standings sometimes does not matter. Arkansas, which was 39 strokes apart from Auburn as a team, beat them 3.5-1.5. Quite an accomplishment for a team that was not picked to win this tournament.

Yet, as a team, they won. Julian Perico, the only Razorback to win all three of his match play contests, was tied with Grayson Huff through 17 holes.

Perico struck his tee shot like it was out of a cannon, while his playing partner had to play out of the fairway bunker. Bottom line, Perico won with a par and Arkansas was on their way to the SEC Golf Championship.

The SEC is known for football but now must be known for golf.  All 14 schools received NCAA bids in 2018. Probably most will for 2019. Since 2013, the SEC has been represented in the NCAA championship match play every year.

The SEC Men’s Golf has won 3 National Championships in the last 6 years; 7 SEC teams ranked in the top 25, 8 Arnold Palmer Cup team members in 2018, most by any conference; 9 PGA Tour winners in the 2017-2018 season and 5 Major PGA Tour wins since 2000 including 2 Masters…Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed. Watson went to UGA and so did Reed however, Reed left UGA.

Great golf under some difficult conditions and greater golf over the match play earns the SEC Golf Championship to Arkansas.

Lights, Camera, Action

By: JJ Lanier news services

At some point there will be a major motion picture about Tiger Woods.

All the plot points are there- a child prodigy with an overbearing father who becomes one of the most, if not the most, famous athlete in world; an earth-shattering fall from grace due to injuries (both emotional and physical, many self-inflicted), followed by a miraculous return back to the top of his profession.

It’s going to happen, it’s just a question as to who will inevitably garner an Oscar nomination for playing the role.

Whether you root for Tiger or against him- and the lists on both sides are long and justified- when you consider what has transpired over the past 10-15 years it’s hard to argue there has been a more impressive feat in sports history than him winning the Masters. And if there is, it has to be a pretty short list, right?

The fact his first major championship victory took place in Augusta, at arguably the most renowned golf course in the country, just makes the whole event that much more delectable.

I’m sure he would’ve taken a win at any of the four majors, but there’s something about him accomplishing it at the Masters that makes it that much more satisfying.

Over the last few years, whenever Tiger has produced rounds that flashed glimpses of his old self, we’ve been bombarded with “Tiger’s back” articles and talking points.

With this win I imagine those will only increase over the following weeks. If he is truly back and winds up winning a few more tournaments over the course of the season, I’ll be interested to see how he is embraced.

To me, one of the best parts to come out of all this, and something I believe is being overlooked, is that there is a completely new generation of golf fans who were able to witness it.

How many times growing up did you see an athlete towards the end of his or her career and wish you could have seen them in their prime? I’m not saying Tiger is in his prime, but what he pulled off would be comparable to Michael Jordan leading the Wizards to NBA championship during his return.

Like Nicklaus in ‘86, this will become a “Where were you?” moment.

I am currently on the cusp of turning 39. I eat healthy, workout three to four times and week, and all things considered am in very good shape for someone my age. My knees also routinely pop when I stand up, I wake up multiple times during the night, and seem to have acquired a love/hate relationship with dairy.

I mention this because not only is winning the Masters an impressive achievement, but to be the second oldest ever to do it at 43 makes it all the more incredible.

There’s a line in “The Dark Knight” when Harvey Dent (Two Face) says “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Now I’m not sure Tiger Woods has ever been close to dying as the hero, but he sure knows what it’s like to go from hero to villain….and now possibly back to hero.

I have no idea if Tiger’s Masters win is the beginning of his redemption story, or merely the closing highlight at the end of a remarkable career. Either way, it’s a story made for Hollywood and we’re all lucky to have been able to witness it.

Pouncing Tiger

By: Mike Anthony news services

When Tiger Woods won the 2005 Masters tournament, it was hard to imagine there would ever be a time when he wasn’t in contention at Augusta.

That win was Wood’s ninth major victory and began a stretch of four victories in a stretch of eight majors contested.

But, for the past decade, it was easy to wonder if he’d ever be in contention again as personal and physical problems kept Woods off the course far too often and rendered him ineffective in most majors where he was able to participate.

Everything came full-circle on Sunday afternoon at Augusta National.

Woods trailed for the first 12 holes, but as the top of the leaderboard swelled and the drama heightened, Woods – as he has done so many times before – was the only one who could stare down the pressure.

Tiger was the only player in the final group to avoid the infamous waters of Rae’s Creek on No. 12. He made birdies on each of the par 5s on the second nine, the second of which gave him the outright lead for the first time in the tournament.

And then, with several players still in contention and attempting a late charge, Tiger flipped the switch on his own personal time machine, briefly turning into the nearly unstoppable force from years ago. Woods’ tee shot on No. 16 judged the large slope in the green perfectly and nearly grazed the hole to set up an easy birdie and a two-stroke lead.

On No. 17, commentators speculated about Woods’ choice to hit driver instead of a safer tee shot with a 3-wood, but the second-guessing had barely gone out over the airwaves before Tiger unleashed one of his biggest drives of the day and stalked it down the fairway, wearing a stoic and determined gaze the whole way.

Up at the 18th green, thousands of patrons had heard cheers from farther down the course and they turned their eyes to the scoreboard. With no one able to birdie No. 18 to put the pressure on Woods, the updated scoreboard showing a two-stroke lead unleashed a roar that was the loudest of the week, the volume and emotion of it capable of being produced only by Tiger Woods.

There was still some work to do and Woods made bogey on No. 18, but the tournament was all but sealed when he chipped safely onto the green and just barely missed a par putt before tapping in for his fifth green jacket and 15th major championship.

Speaking in an interview less than an hour after clinching his win, Woods said it still hadn’t sunk in. But for the thousands surrounding the 18th green and likely millions more watching on television and reacting on social media, the gravity of the moment was immediate and cathartic.

Press members who have covered Woods throughout his career were hopeful for him throughout the week and were openly cheering his clutch shots down the final stretch. Fellow golfers – both young and old – stuck around the 18th green to bear personal witness to Woods’ return to the top.

And then there was Woods’ family.

Tiger and his father famously embraced after his first Masters victory in 1997. Woods also had one of his most public showings of emotion in 2006 after the death of his father when he discussed not having him there at the end of his Open Championship victory.

The full scope of the major drought came when a new family member made an appearance behind the 18th green. Woods’ son, Charlie, raced into Tiger’s arms for a celebratory hug. Charlie was born in 2009, eight months after Tiger’s 2008 U.S. Open victory – his final major win until Sunday.

“I’m so happy that my kids could be here to see me win and to celebrate,” Woods said. “For a few years (while battling health issues), all they saw was that golf caused me pain. Today, they get to see how happy I am to play this game that I love.”

New Golf Course

By: Mike Anthony news services

A decade ago, professional golf was mostly relegated to the man caves of middle-aged dads as they napped their way through Sunday rounds while winding down their weekends.

Since then, a swarm of young talent has brought the game much closer to the sports mainstream. Not only are the current stars a far cry from the beer-bellied prototypes of pros from previous eras, they’re also personable to crowds, all over social media and – most importantly – better than any generation of golfers that has ever come through the sport.

Players like Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler have started to move the needle, and resurgences from the old guard of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have resulted in plenty of drama.

The changing of guard from one generation to the next is enough of a storyline to hook in the usual golf fans, but the shakeup to this year’s schedule could be the spark that ignites a burst in ratings for the game.

For years, the golf schedule religiously held to the same timing for its biggest events, inadvertently causing lulls of a month or more in viewing for the casual fans. This time around, the season will feature a schedule that features marquee events in six consecutive months.

The big shakeup begins in March as the Players’ Championship jumps forward on the calendar by nearly two months. The Masters will hold its usual spot in early April, with the PGA Championship cutting in front of the other two majors by moving from August to May.

That leaves the U.S. Open for its normal spot in the blistering heat of June, followed by every golf fan’s guilty pleasure of sneaking out of bed early to catch the (very) early morning rounds of the British Open in July. With the PGA already done, the season will bump up it’s big-money Fed-Ex Cup playoff, culminating with the Tour Championship in Atlanta in late August.

It remains to be seen how viewership and attendance will respond to the drastic change, but it seems to be a shrewd move for a sport that has always had a massive casual following while lacking the ticket gate and sponsorship revenue of the traditional major sports.

Golf may have just played its hand perfectly.

In an industry where leagues are struggling to get fans to come to games instead of going to bars or purchasing all-inclusive television packages, golf has spent a decade investing in technology and information beamed right onto the screens of everyone watching the action at home.

And while every other sport is locked into a schedule that lends it to lapses in attention from casual fans, golf has made the decision to condense what had been a very scattered 10 months of tournaments – many of which weren’t featuring top players – into six months of better tournament fields that see the four majors bookended by the next biggest player and viewer draws of the season.

If golf was a sports franchise, this is when all of its fans would be starting to get excited.

Golf had some down years in the early 2010’s, but it took a step back and evaluated its position. It developed a young group of talent that can produce for years to come, it still has the star power of old veterans and – thanks to the new schedule – it’s got some sleek new packaging that will catch the eye of more than just the die-hard fans.

So, for all of the lazy Sunday dads out there, watch out. Your regularly scheduled nap is going to be interrupted by a lot more excitement this year.

The Right Mistake

By: Rich Styles news services

Matt Kuchar has spent his life and his golf career upholding doing the right thing. He holds himself to some pretty high standards. I’ve had several face to face interviews with Matt and he has always been upfront, honest and grateful.

Many of you have heard stories about Matt’s win in Mayakoba, his first win in four years.

His regular caddie, John Wood, was unable to be there. So, Matt got together with a local caddie, “El Tucan”, to carry his bag at the tournament. They made an agreement.  Matt would pay his local caddie a certain amount if he missed the cut, another amount if he made the cut, a higher amount if he placed in Top 10 and a flat fee if he won.

“El Tucan” carried the bag, which he does at the course and usually receives a few hundred dollars a week for doing that. Matt figured the yardage on each hole, read his own putts, etc. The caddie carried the bag for four days.

Well, as you know, Matt won. He paid the caddie the previously agreed amount of $4,000 plus another $1,000 for the win as a bonus. That was the deal.

I interviewed Matt’s Dad, Peter, last week, and we discussed the matter. Peter said, “a deal is a deal”. He further said, “if I hired a person to paint my house for a certain amount, that was our deal, our agreement.”  Peter said, Matt has always done the right thing all his life in everything he has done.

Well, since the tournament, social media and friends of “El Tucan”, has exploded. It has blown up. The media, “el Tucan”, his friends and family have all said he deserved more money than he was paid.

So, after the negative press from many outlets, Matt through the PGA office, agreed to give his local caddie an additional $45,000 plus an undisclosed amount to the Mayakoba Classic to use for local charities. Matt paid more than he said he originally agreed upon.

John Wood, Matt’s regular caddie, in various publications that “you do not know the real guy”. “Matt has treated me fairly during out whole relationship.”

Did Matt make a mistake? In my opinion, no. Should he have paid the local caddie more than they agreed upon. I think not.

But with the pressure from social media and discussions with the PGA Tour, the additional funds were paid to do more than the right thing. Matt went out of his way to make things right. He said, “I made a mistake, I was stubborn and hard headed.

In my mind, a deal is a deal.  After I won, it wasn’t a good deal. In the caddie’s case, he did not feel like he won in that situation, and I needed to make that right.  It’s as simple as that.”

This situation with Matt should be over. The media will probably continue to talk about it and attack his character.

I am a Kuchar fan.  I met him while he was practicing for the President’s Cup a few years ago. He was pleasant and a nice guy.

Every time I have interviewed him or seen him running on the beach on St. Simons Island early in the morning, he always says hi.

The bottom line is that sometimes you make a mistake, but in the end, he will always do the right thing to make it even righter.

Let’s move on, please

The New Clubs

By: Rich Styles news services

In January of every year, 40,000 people within the golf industry gather in Orlando, FL for the PGA Merchandise Show. I was one of those.

It is always amazing to me each year how many companies pay thousands of dollars to set up booths, bring in staff and products to show off what they have that is new for the year.

The audience walks around, when you can get through the crowds and lines, to look at all that is new in equipment, training aids, apparel, golf cars, snacks, etc. All related to golf.  It is quite overwhelming to say the least.

After spending weeks setting appointments for interviews on the back9boys golf show, there are always a a few surprises. Here are a few….

I got to spend a few minutes talking with Sir Nick Faldo, Masters Champion and currently one of the best announcers on the Golf Channel. Sir Nick wanted to talk about a course, Bella Colina, he designed and will not make it easier to play through a renovation. Sir Nick called the course “a brut”.

He talked about the athletes that now play the game. They are all built, in shape, eat right, workout regularly, have great swings and are mentally tough.  By the way, they can hit the ball a mile, sometimes more.

I asked Sir Nick why he wasn’t playing on the Champions Tour, he said he can’t play

like he did years ago, winning tournament on both continents. He would have to put in long hours practicing and basically get in “golf shape”.

He is grateful and blessed to be able to stay close to golf with his gig on the Golf Channel. He was a pleasure to spend a few minutes with but you go away with many more questions that you would have liked to ask. Next time.

Then I had another surprise….John O’Hurley, who played Mr. Peterman on

Seinfeld. Can you believe that was twenty years ago. He loves the game of golf and belongs to two country clubs in LA. He was there with his wife, who works with a travel golf company, Garmany Golf.

John was gracious to spend time with me to talk about his love for golf. He plays in a lot of Pro-Am Tournaments all over the world. He has seen good swings and I am sure not so good swings of the amateurs.

He said the Mr. Peterman role was incredible. He got to work with the staff who all were in their prime and loved being in a show about nothing. Many still call him, Mr. Peterman. He was delight and I hope we cross paths again, this time on a golf course.

Another surprise was having a few minutes with Lexi Thompson.  Winner of many LPGA tournaments. She was much taller than I thought, but I guess that means I am shorter than I thought I was.

She was being asked by many to sign autographs, pose for pictures (yes, even with me) and do interviews. She visited several booths of which she endorses their clubs, apparel, product or service. Very nice lady who can hit the ball a mile.

By the way, now members of her family, now her brother, caddie for her on tour.

Yes, I did my seventeen miles of walking from one end of the convention center to the other doing interviews and taking in all that is new in golf equipment, apparel, golf cars, training aids, energy bars, etc.

Every year I say I will skip next year. But I have gone five years in a row so I guess I will be back in 2020. After all, there will be new stuff to see, feel and touch. Yes, samples are appreciated.


Around The Bend

By: Rich Styles news services

The 2018-19 season starts this month on the PGA Tour. Yes, there were several tournaments last fall with many of the top ranked golfers cherry picking which ones to play.

Now, after the Tournament of Champions, which will not include Tiger, Phil and Justin Rose, the tour starts in Hawaii, then the west coast swing.

There are many PGA,, PGA Tour Canada and Latin American players from Georgia or with Georgia ties. Many have won tour events and several majors over the last several years and around 30 or so live and practice in Sea Island/St. Simons Island.

One of the biggest stories was Charles Howell III winning the RSM Classic. Howell III won on the second playoff hole with a birdie, after over 83,693 shots on the tour, 333 starts and over 11 years without a win. A great and popular win for the Augusta native. He will play in the TOC in Hawaii.

He is also ranked in the Top 20 of total winnings on the PGA Tour. Quite an accomplishment with 3 PGA Tour wins and many Top 10s along his journey.

Looking to regain their games in the 2018-19 season are Patton Kizzire, who had a great first half of the season with two wins to lead the FedEx Cup standings and reached Top 30 of the Tour Championship; Chesson Hadley, who has 13 Top 25s and 7 Top 10s.

Also looking to regain form are Kevin Kisner, who did not have the year that he had planned; Brian Harman, started strong but missed the Tour Championship; Zach Johnson will start the new year with a new caddie after parting ways with Damon Green after 15-years together and 2 major wins. And many others.

A strong list of players on various tours include Anders Albertson, Cameron Tringale, Harris English, Heath Slocum, Hudson Swofford, J.T. Poston, Jason Bohn, Joey Garber, Scott Wolfes, Kris Blanks, Luke List, Michael Thompson, Ollie Schniederjans, Patrick Reed, Richy Werenski, Roberto Castro, Russell Henry, Scott Brown, Sepp Straka, Stewart Cink, Trey Mullinax, Troy Matteson, Vaughn Taylor, Wesley Bryan, Dru Love IV and Will Claxton.

The list will grow of tour players who live or have ties in Georgia with the incredibly strong golf programs at UGA, Georgia Southern, College of Coastal Georgia, Georgia Tech and others.

The AJGA, Jones Cup Jr and Jones Cup Invitational are also strong organizations with unbelievable talent that is only going to get stronger.

That means the talent in high schools to colleges to the mini tours to the PGA Tour is strong. You may not know their names now but you will in the next few years.

These players are young, strong and have an incredible will to win. They have no fear and want to play against the best on any of the above-mentioned tours. Georgia’s golf future is bright and very promising.