Joey Garber’s first two weeks as a professional golfer could have left his head spinning.
The 22-year-old recent Georgia graduate finished runner-up at the Michigan Open a week ago in his pro debut and made the field for this week’s Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn., on a sponsor exemption.
Luckily, Garber said, he had plenty of support.
The field at the Travelers Championship was stocked with fellow former Bulldogs, including Bubba Watson, Hudson Swafford, Harris English, Brian Harman, Ryuji Imada, Justin Bolli and Erik Compton. Most of them have taken the time to chat with Garber this week, and a few of them managed to squeeze in practice rounds with the rookie.
“They just told me to enjoy it,” said Garber, who missed the cut on Friday after back-to-back rounds of 2-over 72. “They said to realize it’s just another golf tournament, that it’s not much different, and to just get out on the golf course because it’s all the same 18 holes cut the same way. Unfortunately I didn’t play my best, but it did give me a lot of confidence to see that I can play with these guys.”
It shouldn’t take much else for Garber to believe he can play at that level considering the success he enjoyed last season and the bevy of offseason honors he has received.
Most recently, Garber, ranked No. 1 in the country for much of his senior season, was named a first-team Golfweek All-American, an honor only four other Georgia players have earned: Chris Kirk (2006, 2007), Todd (2007), English (2010) and Russell Henley (2010).
“It’s been a great year for me and a very humbling one,” Garber said. “To be in the same category as those guys, as far as college golf goes at least, it’s pretty awesome to be honest. And what was arguably more important for me was I was able to break the scoring average record at UGA this year (70.69), which is a pretty big honor having seen the guys’ success out there on the PGA Tour.”
Garber also was recently named a second-team PING All-American, and similar honors have gone to Georgia teammates Lee McCoy (second-team Golfweek All-American, honorable mention PING All-American) and Michael Cromie (honorable mention Golfweek and PING All-American).
Garber said he’s eager to find his way back to the PGA Tour sooner rather than later. He gets one guarnteed exemption into a Web.com Tour event with his All-American status, and he said he’ll be trying to break in via Monday qualifiers, a type of event he said he’s supremely prepared for thanks in large part to the competitive nature of Georgia coach Chris Haack’s program.
“All the guys at the Division I college level and at a big school like Georgia all have the ability to advance and play on the PGA Tour and do good things, but the level of competition at Georgia is really what gets you ready to compete right out of the gate,” Garber said. “… This week while I’ve been out here, I’ve seen these (Georgia) guys everywhere, and most of time you see their names towards the top of the leaderboard. That’s always good to see and it gives you a lot of confidence.”