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Column: Golf remains in the spotlight with local players making news

The views of the author are not necessarily the view of AllOnGeorgia.

Golf has been at the forefront of the sporting world in recent days.

Of course, last week the U.S. Open was in the spotlight and featured several players from Georgia including those who live right here in the 912 area code.

Golf will continue to get attention locally and statewide in the coming weeks with several noteworthy events on the docket including the Golden Isles Invitational at the Brunswick Country Club and the Georgia Amateur Championship which is also a staple on the summer sports calendar every July.

We’ll keep an eye on those events and we’ll follow the local players to see how they fare as they compete, but for now we’re sticking to the current day and the immediate future as we dive into notes from the golf links.

* The PGA Tour has made its way to Travelers Championship this week in Cromwell, Conn., and local players have jumped to the top of the leaderboard.

With round two already under way this morning, Savannah native and current St. Simons Island resident Brian Harman has moved into the lead at 10-under-par. He finished today at 4-under after shooting 6-under 64 in Thursday’s opening round to grab a top-5 spot.

Another local player, Zach Johnson, was actually the co-leader after Thursday’s first round and the fellow St. Simons Island golfer had an afternoon tee time today.

Just a few days after criticizing the United States Golf Association for its course setup last Saturday at the U.S. Open, Johnson fired a 7-under 63 over the first 18 holes to grab a share of the early lead with Jordan Spieth who is struggling in round two.

Johnson’s scorecard included eight birdies in the first round including six in a row on the back nine. That was one off the course record.

“Six in a row is a treat,” Johnson told the media after his round. “I had a lot of loft in my hand, lot of wedges in my hand. So, that’s kind of how you have to think about it, is you have a lot of opportunity on the back side if you get the ball on the fairway. There are some holes you can get at.”

Johnson is liable to get at enough that he walks away with the winner’s check and hardware on Sunday.

* Davis Love III is playing this week, but he’s not on the PGA Tour.

Instead, the 54-year-old Sea Island pro is playing in the American Family Insurance Championship on the Champions Tour.

Love is good friends with tournament host Steve Stricker. The tournament in Wisconsin is Love’s final tune-up for next week’s U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

This week’s tournament is Love’s second appearance on the Champions Tour this season. Love has played in only 10 Champions Tour events since turning 50 compared to 64 regular tour events.

Love had hip replacement surgery last fall and returned to competitive golf this spring. His best finish on the big tour this year is his tie for 58th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The American Family tournament opens today. Love was placed in one of the first round’s featured pairings as it also includes Vijay Singh and tournament host Stricker.

* The Top 60 Women’s Classic is set to tee of next Wednesday at the Manor Golf and Country Club in Milton.

The 36-hole amateur championship is sponsored by the Georgia State Golf Association and this year the lone local representative in the field is Danielle Davis from St. Simons Island. Davis is currently tied for fifth in the 2018 Women’s Player of the Year standings.

Other local players are past champions in the tournament. Former Glynn Academy and Stanford golfer Rebecca Durham won back-to-back in 2009 and 2010. The 2009 event was held at the Reynolds Landing Golf Course in Greensboro while the 2010 tournament was played at West Lake Country Club in Augusta.

Also, Katie Burnett won the tournament in 2011 at the Brickyard at Riverside in Macon. Burnett is a former Brunswick High and South Carolina standout who is presently playing on the LPGA Tour.

* The Brunswick Country Club, which is gearing up to host another Golden Isles Invitational over the Fourth of July holiday, has a course promotional video on its web site that features a local voice that area golf fans should recognize.

Click here to visit the club website where you can watch the video. See if you can guess the voice providing the narration. The only hint I will give is that he is a past champion of the Golden Isles tournament.

* The Brunswick News recently named its high school golf players of the year.

The boys player was Frederica Academy’s Sarut Vongchaisit who helped the Knights to an 11th straight state championship this spring.

Vongchaisit, a senior, averaged a 70.9 score this year to set a new school record. He also won the state low medalist honor two years in a row. He is believed to be the only player in Georgia Independent School Association history to accomplish that feat.

He is set to play college golf at Ole Miss.

The girls player of the year was Glynn Academy’s Taylor Palmer. She posted a career-best 73 score in the region tournament to win low medalist.

The senior-to-be recently accepted a golf scholarship to Anderson University.

* College of Coastal Georgia players Lauri Hacklin and Harrison Stafford were named Third-Team All-Americans this week by the Golf Coaches Association of American when it named its Ping NAIA All-American Second- and Third-Teams.

Coastal Georgia’s Mark David Johnson, a St. Simons Island resident, had already been named a First-Team All-American.

The Mariners finished fourth at this year’s NAIA national championship tournament.




Kevin Price is a freelance writer for AllOnGeorgia with more than 20 years experience in journalism and communications.

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