The NCAA Golf season is officially over. So before we get to the pros, here’s how the Golfing ‘Dawgs finished up the Spring season.
The Women’s Golf team had an inconsistent spring. The team didn’t fare that well, finishing 13th at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate on Hilton Head (one of the more competitive NCAA women’s tournaments), and 5th at the Liz Murphey of which UGA is the host/home team. There were good results individually, but Coach Josh Brewer couldn’t get all his ladies firing at the same time. Sure enough, the Bulldogs fell to 10th at the SEC Championships, while senior Jo Hua Hung captured 4th as an individual.
That was still good enough to make the NCAA Albuquerque Regional. And that’s where things started to pick up. Fourth after the first round, they held serve and captured third at Regionals, good enough to advance to the NCAA Championships. Jenny Bae was second overall, while Candice Mahe was third.
At Grayhawk (Scottsdale, AZ), the Bulldogs continued the good play, marching up the leaderboard after three rounds into 9th place. The top 15 teams advanced, which was then cut to the top 8. And sure enough, these Athenians did just that, moving to 8th and advancing to the Match Play format. Alas, they were paired up against season-long #1 (and almost foregone conclusion) Stanford. The match was close but Georgia fell 3-2. It was their second consecutive trip the NCAA Championships, and a 4 way tie for fifth in the nation isn’t too bad.
The Men’s team also had mixed results during the season, but were consistently ranked top 10 and top 15 all year, and entered the SEC Championships on St. Simon’s Island with high hopes. They did advance to the match play format but fell to some gatuhs in the quarterfinals. That was still enough to get a 3 seed in the 14 team NCAA Regionals in College Station, TX. Needing a top 5 finish, the Bulldogs captured 4th and moved on to the NCAA Championships.
Similar to the Women’s format, the top 15 at Nationals advance to the fourth round, then the top 8 play Match Play for the natty. While the Bulldogs did get to 12th, they weren’t able to move up and their season ended last Sunday. Also ended, is four-time All American Trent Phillips. He joins the list of other four-time All-American’s at UGA, who are also multiple-time PGA Tour winners: Kevin Kisner, Russell Henley, Harris English, and Brendon Todd.
He also finished in the top 15 of PGA Tour University, gaining exemptions into Korn Ferry Tour events and status with the hope of jump-starting his professional career. Currently on the Korn Ferry are former Bulldogs Davis Thompson, Joey Garber, Spencer Ralston, and Erik Compton.
The PGA Tour is going to Dublin, OH and the Memorial Tournament; the event started by Jack Nicklaus. Who also bought the land, designed the course, and funded the tournament. In the field are Sepp Straka, Keith Mitchell, Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, Hudson Swafford, and Harris English.
English is playing for the first time since the winter, having undergone hip surgery and missing both the Masters and the PGA Championship. Swafford is playing, but I wouldn’t unpack my bags if I were him.
Because the field was announced for the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event in London was announced, and among the names was one Hudson Swafford. As a PGA Tour member, Swafford was required to ask for an exemption to play the tournament since it goes against an existing PGA Tour sanctioned event (The RBC Canadian Open). The Tour denied all waiver exemption requests as they are looking to quash the upstart LIV Series. The Tour has unequivocally stated that any player who competes without an exemption is subject to suspension or even termination of their Tour membership. Since no exemptions were given, every Tour player who goes to London next week might be forgoing their Tour privileges.
Some of the field were no surprise: Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia. Some were really surprising: Talor Gooch, recent Tour winner and young gun with a ton of potential. And then former world #1 and two-time major winner Dustin Johnson. It is rumoured DJ was guaranteed $125 million just to play the Series. And considering he’s already lost a sponsor (RBC) and potentially millions a year from the PGA Tour, he’d better cash that check fast.
And Swafford, himself having won the American Express in late January, just announcing the birth of his son, looks to be making a cash grab himself. We won’t know the real money involved here, and it is an evolving story,
But hey - at least there’s something to discuss during the summer doldrums instead of just ‘Dawgs chasing little white balls. As always...