Three weeks, three wins: Former UGA golfers enjoying dominant run

It’s been a good month for former Georgia golfers.

In three weeks, they’ve lifted three trophies.

Chris Kirk began the run with a victory at The McGladrey Classic at Sea Island on Nov. 10, Harris English followed it up with a week later with a win at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico, and Kevin Kisner topped a field of pros from the PGA, LPGA, Champions and Web.com tours to win the Pebble Beach Invitational on Sunday.

“I think there have been a couple real peaks lately,” said Georgia men’s golf coach and director of golf Chris Haack, who took over the program in 1996. “There was a great time at Q-school (in 2011) when Brendon Todd won and a bunch of guys got their cards, and having Bubba Watson win the Masters in 2012 was a cool week. But to have something like this where three weeks in a row Georgia guys are lifting a trophy, that’s really special.”

With 10 former UGA players who have each played at least two PGA Tour events this year, the Bulldogs have been a dominant force. English and Kirk are second and fifth, respectively, in the FedEx Cup standings, and former Georgia golfers have earned a combined $3.4 million in winnings four events into the PGA Tour season.

“We joke that instead of us saying, ‘We run this state,’ we should be saying, “We run this tour,’” said Kisner, who earned his 2013-14 PGA Tour card via the Web.com Tour.

Kisner’s win doesn’t count toward the FedEx Cup standings, but it could still pay dividends.

“I had seen an upward trend in my game the last few months, and I’ve really been working hard,” Kisner said. “I knew something good would happen, I just wish it would have happened a few weeks earlier and I could have gotten a PGA Tour win. But any time you win an event, it definitely builds up your confidence and gives you some momentum for the season.”

Kisner said he and his wife, Brittany, went to Pebble Beach as part of a vacation, and after he found himself battling to hold his lead and fend of Chesson Hadley in Sunday’s final round, realized his trip to one of golf’s most photographed courses was now about more than just the scenery.

“My wife was driving in the cart with me on Sunday and I said, ‘We’re supposed to be out here having fun. Now I’m having to grind,’” said Kisner, who edged Hadley by a stroke. “I wish everyone could experience that course. And that 18th hole is the greatest place to play when you have a one-shot lead.”

Can the Bulldogs make it four in a row? It’s possible Kisner’s win only strengthened his former teammates’ resolve, Haack said, but we’ll have to wait until the PGA Tour schedule resumes Dec. 5 with the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

“I think a lot of it has to do with all that positive reinforcement that they’re seeing from their former teammates,” Haack said. “They see other guys winning, see what they’ve gone through and they say, ‘If they can do it, I can do it, too.’ That momentum gives all of them a boost of confidence.”

Fall competition fuels men’s squad

If the fall is any indication, Georgia’s PGA Tour hopefuls should be knee-deep in accolades in 2014.

The Bulldogs finished their fall slate with top-five finishes in each of their five events, including a victory at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup in Nashville, Tenn.

Joey Garber capped the opening leg of the season with medalist honors at The Invitational at The Ocean Course at Kiawah, S.C.

“I think it kind of showed those guys that, if they play well, we’ve got a chance to compete in every tournament we play in,” Haack said. “It also gave them a chance to reassess what they want to do in the offseason, what they want to work on. No doubt it’s a highly competitive team, and as long as they’re competing against one another, they’re going to be working hard. And if that’s happening, it’ll put us in good position to win some golf tournaments.”

The Bulldogs’ spring slate begins Feb. 23 at the Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Grande, P.R.

The Georgia women’s squad, which had three top-10 finishes in the fall, picks up again on Feb. 7 when it hosts the Lady Bulldog Invitational at the UGA Golf Course.

No. 13 Georgia steamrolls Troy, posts largest margin of victory...

by Marc Weiszer

There were no lightning delays, only gorgeous weather and plenty of points for Georgia Saturday in Sanford Stadium. Full Story

Follow marcweiszer

marcweiszer

#UGA postgame report: Injury updates and much more from rout of Troy http://t.co/IYWEXrDh9T

9 hours ago