For five former Georgia golfers, this week’s stop on the Nationwide Tour offers more than a few practice rounds and a chance to win a tournament.
The Stadion Classic, in its third year at the UGA Golf Course, gives former Bulldogs players a chance to play at the course they called home in college.
“I just feel comfortable, excited to be back in Athens,” said Russell Henley, the defending tournament champion. “There’s a lot more to this tournament than the golf — a lot of friends, family and it’s close to home. It’s just a relaxing time for me.”
Henley, a 2011 graduate, will be joined by former Bulldogs Richard Scott, Hudson Swafford, Justin Bolli and Paul Claxton in the 156-man field.
Adding to the list of Bulldogs competing in the tournament are current team members Brian Carter and Nicholas Reach, who earned sponsorship exemptions.
“We get to show off the golf course, we get to show off the university and then to have the extra bonus of having some of our guys play makes it that much more extra special,” Georgia coach Chris Haack said.
Henley is staying with Haack, who has an open-door policy for any of his former players if a room is needed. Other than offering a place to stay, Haack, in his 16th season at Georgia, tries to stay out of the way as best as possible.
“What happens is everybody has such crazy schedules, different tee times, some have their kids with them,” he said. “Impromptu, some of us get together and so forth.
“I also realize this is a job for these guys. They’re trying to make a living, so I try not to disrupt them or distract them any more than I have to, except the occasional high five, a hug and let’s tell an old story.”
Scramble for the field
Two qualifying rounds held Monday determined the last 14 spots in the field, with a playoff needed at both venues to settle the final 10 spots.
Eight men battled for the final five spots at a playoff hole at Jennings Mill Country Club.
Jeffrey Corr, a native of Longwood, Fla., was among them, but said he didn’t feel much pressure while playing the final hole.
“Because I have status (on the Nationwide Tour) I knew I could get in if there were any withdrawals,” he said. “I knew a birdie would probably be what it would take.”
Corr scored his birdie to make the field, finishing with a 66 for the round. Five others tied at 66 at the Georgia Club to fill the final spots.
Notables among the 14 to earn their way in: Duluth native Sung Back; Kevin Tway, the son of long-time PGA Tour member Bob Tway; Manuel Villegas, the brother of PGA Tour member Camilo Villegas; and Aiken, S.C., native Alex Hamilton.
This and that
The Yamaha Golf Car Pro-Am event will tee off today. A group of 48 professional players in the field for this weekend’s tournament are set to play a round with amateurs and others. Morning tee times start at approximately 7:30 Afternoon tee times start around 12:30. … The Stadion Classic Kickoff Party is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Melting Point.