Even the PGA Tour is getting into the spirit of March Madness: they are actively promoting the collegiate ties of their current Tour members. The Northern Trust Open had a one-day collegiate showcase. The Farmers Insurance Open had a challenge where golfers break panes of glass with golf shots, trying to knock out their opponent. There is a lot of interest in other college sports from the Tour members, so naturally the Tour itself is trying to cash in. Here are the colleges in the NCAA Tourney that have former collegians now out on Tour:
Oklahoma State: 6
UGA: 9, as in "count 'em... NINE"
Note this is only a list of schools entered in the basketball tourney. There are plenty of other schools well represented on Tour, but it still speaks volumes about UGA's success across the board. As far as colleges represented this particular week at Bay Hill:
UNLV, UF, GT, FSU, Clemson and Arizona St. can claim 3 former collegians each. Oklahoma State can claim 4 this week. And little ol' Georgia can take the top spot once again by claiming 6.
Now on to Arnie's tournament. It's held outside Orlando at Arnold Palmers club named Bay Hill. This used to be called the Florida Citrus Open, and has had a host of courses and corporate sponsors. But it has settled nicely into Bay Hill and Arnold's name and prestige has given it a lock on the schedule. Since the Masters is only a couple of weeks away, and the course is somewhat challenging, it annually attracts a big name field - the top 5 in the world are all playing this week for example. And it's had it's share of big moments and famous former champions; Els, Norman, Phil, Couples, and even Tiger. Oh yeah, about Tiger. He's won this tournament 8 different times. That's like crazy good, a crazy record, and just plain crazy. He's also still out with a hurt back and won't be playing this year (expect him back at Augusta - still TBD).
The 6 former UGA golfers alluded to up above are (with world ranking and Fed Ex Cup ranking respectively in parentheses):
Erik Compton (112,140): I've said it before... the 2nd round is killing Compton. He's missed the last 5 cuts and each time it's his Friday round that puts him above the cut line. The numbers don't lie - he needs to start playing better.
Chris Kirk (24,57): Hasn't played particularly well in 2015, but he's done enough to be in the majors, the big tourneys, and has taken home over half a million dollars in winnings (before taxes, expenses, etc.).
Harris English (52, 20): The native of Valdosta finished strong last week with a Top 10, and is playing pretty dang good. Only 1 missed cut, and nothing else outside the Top 40. He should do well this week.
Russell Henley (57,44): He hasn't missed a cut, but his final round scoring average is frankly atrocious. He's hung around the leaderboards but never made a serious charge. That could change this week, and I'd like to see it. He's from Macon after all.
Hudson Swafford (331, 86): The big disconnect from world ranking (bad) to FedEx Cup (not bad at all) is because he's made a few cuts in regular Tour stops so far this season. But that was before the calendar flipped to 2015: he's missed the last 3 cuts, and 7 out of the last 9. I can't say it enough - he needs to make cuts and make some checks.
Bubba Watson (2,2): His stranglehold on the world #2 position is appearing tenuous. While he's mostly been in contention and has some high finishes, the field is starting to catch up. He's only played 4 tourneys in 2015, but has placed no lower than T14 and has two Top 3s. I think he's settling in with his new family situation and ready to bust out.
Here's hoping that the Hoop Hounds and Coach Haack's Hacks all have a great weekend - which would mean that all make the cut and UGA wins against Michigan State. GO 'DAWGS!!!