Tuesday, November 18, 2014

David Mackey Signs With Bulldogs

David Mackey
David Mackey of North Oconee High School has signed a national letter of intent with the Bulldogs, according to an announcement by Coach Chris Haack.

Mackey will become a third generation Bulldog when he joins Georgia for the 2015-16 season. His grandfather, Gary Pleger, was a letterman for the Bulldogs in 1952 and 1953 and was a member of the 1953 SEC Championship squad. His mother, Cindy Pleger Mackey, is one of the most decorated female players in Georgia history. She lettered from 1980 through 1983, garnering both All-America and All-SEC honors and earning an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. She went on to a 13-year LPGA Tour career, winning the 1986 MasterCard Invitational by 16 shots, a margin-of-victory record that still stands today.

David Mackey plays under Coach Terry Tuley at North Oconee. He led the Titans to state team titles in 2012 and 2014 and he earned state medalist honors as a freshman in 2012. Mackey was chosen as the Class AAA Player of the Year in 2014 and twice has been picked as the Athens Banner-Herald's Golfer of the Year.

"David was a freshman when my son, Charlie, was a senior at North Oconee a few years ago," Haack said. "David shot a 65 and won the state title, and that got my attention real quick. He is a great kid. He's a hard worker and he's not afraid to set lofty goals for himself. Coming from a family of Bulldogs, he knows all about the history of success at Georgia, and I can tell he wants to do whatever it takes to continue that trend. We're excited about having him join our program."

Mackey won the 2013 Southern Junior and has 10 top-10 finishes in high-tier amateur events. In 2013, he was an Honorable Mention selection on the Rolex All-America Team.

• Scott Parel has advanced to the finals of the Tour Q School with his 17th-place effort at Southern Hills Plantation in Brooksville, Fla.

Parel ended the four-round event at 7-under 281, good enough for the one of the site’s 19 qualifying positions. Joey Garber was not as fortunate in Kingwood, Texas, as he took 21st at 8-over 296 and needed a top-18 finish.

This week, Paul Claxton and Adam Mitchell are playing in Panama City Beach, Fla.; Matt McQuillan is in Murrieta, Calif.; and T.J. Mitchell and Michael Cromie are teeing it up in Plantation, Fla.

The finals are set for Dec. 11-16 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

• Parel is also competing in the Champions Tour Q School in Florida. Read about Parel's dual quest here.

• Junior Lee McCoy has accepted an invitation from the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee to participate in a practice session for the 2015 Walker Cup. The session will take place Dec. 17-20 at Frederica Golf Club on St. Simons Island, Ga. The 45th Walker Cup will be held Sept. 12-13, 2015, at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England.

USA captain John “Spider” Miller, a Walker Cup competitor in 1999, emphasized that an invitation to the practice session does not guarantee selection to the 10-man team. He added that many players not included on the 16-man list for December will be in the mix during the final selection process.

“This is an insightful way to get to know these potential Walker Cup players in an informal setting and we have the opportunity to introduce them to the Match and its unique format,” Miller said. “The good people at Frederica Golf Club have offered us their fine facility to start on the process. We appreciate their hospitality.”

• Bryden Macpherson is playing this week in the Australian Masters at the Metropolitan Golf Club.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Compton, English, Harman, Swafford Playing In Mexico

Erik Compton, Harris English, Brian Harman and Hudson Swafford are competing in Mexico this week in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. English is the tournament's defending champion.

“I remember all the good golf shots I hit down the stretch (a year ago), all the good putts I made in the final round," English said. "You can feed off of that, because golf is such a mental sport. You get a lot of positive thoughts."

• Bubba Watson's win in China has the Bulldogs back on top in the Rivals Cup. The Bulldogs have earned $2.9 million this year, aided by Watson's $1.4 million payday. Georgia, of course, claimed the 2013-14 title by more than double the earnings made by Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech alums.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bulldogs Complete Fall Schedule With Third-Place Finish In Hawaii

LAHAINA, MAUI, Hawaii — Buoyed by top-10 efforts from Lee McCoy and Nicholas Reach, the Bulldogs finished in third place on Sunday in the Ka'anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational.

The Bulldogs shot a final-round 2-under 282 at the Royal Ka'anapali Course to wind up at 4-under 848. Oregon, on the strength of an NCAA-record 30-under 254 in the opening round, took the team title at 33-under 819. North Florida was second at 9-under 843.

McCoy paced the Bulldogs on Sunday as he shot a 3-under 68, while Reach signed for a 2-under 69. McCoy placed sixth individually at 5-under 208, just five back of medalists Aaron Wise of Oregon (10-under 203), and Reach took eighth at 3-under 210.

Greyson Sigg closed with an even-par 71 and finished 11th at 2-under 211. Zach Healy (3-over 74 Sunday) and Jaime Lopez Rivarola (5-over 76) wound up at 6-over 219 and 13-over 226, respectively.

The Ka'anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational was Georgia's last competition of the fall. The Bulldogs will return to action in February in the Puerto Rico Classic.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Watson Wins WGC-HSBC Champions In Thriller

Bubba Watson displays his trophy after winning on Sunday.
SHANGHAI (AP) -- Even in the midst of a meltdown, Bubba Watson never lost hope Sunday in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.

He stood on the 16th tee with a two-shot lead. He trudged off the 17th green facing a one-shot deficit behind five players suddenly tied for the lead. And right when it looked as though Watson had blown it, he delivered a finish that not even the creator of "Bubba Golf" could have imagined.  

From some 60 yards away in a bunker left of the green on the par-5 18th hole, Watson blasted out of the sand and watched his ball roll 25 feet before it dropped for eagle. Watson was so stunned that his eyes widened and he screamed. He didn't know what else to do. 

"You never know what he's going to do," said Rickie Fowler, who watched it all unfold at Sheshan International.

Watson closed with a 2-under 70, a score that doesn't even begin to describe his wild ride -- an eagle, birdie, par, bogey and double bogey filled his scorecard over the last five holes.

The two-time Masters champion looked like a lost cause when he stood in the bunker on the 18th in regulation, waiting his turn to play. That's when he turned to his caddie and told him, "It's been a miserable couple holes here, but this will change everything if it goes in."

Talk about a Shanghai surprise.

"You always joke about holing it," Watson said. "And then it actually went in. I didn't know how to react and so I just kind of screamed, and I lost my voice a little bit. It was one of those shots, a one-in-a-lifetime kind of shot. And so it was pretty neat."

The 10th edition of the HSBC Champions was the most memorable one yet.

Clark made a 5-foot birdie on the final hole for a 69 to join Watson at 11-under 277. Fowler's hopes of joining them ended when he tried to hit a 5-wood from 228 yards over the water to a back pin position. The ball didn't make it over the front bank and rolled back into the water. He scrambled for a par and a 70.

All three players in the final group had a chance at birdie to join the playoff.

Graeme McDowell, who led after each of the three rounds, missed a 12-foot putt and shot 73. Hiroshi Iwata of Japan, the mystery guest on a world-class leaderboard, narrowly missed from 8 feet. U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer hit a wedge that bounded off the green and into the water, leading to double bogey and a 73.

In the playoff, Clark had a 25-foot birdie putt that stopped a few inches short.

"I knew I needed to birdie that playoff, especially with him being able to reach," Clark said. "I'm pleased overall. Obviously, disappointed to be that close."

Watson wound up in the same bunker in the playoff, and while he blasted out 20 feet short, the birdie putt was on the same line as the bunker shot he holed in regulation. He knew the speed and the break. The only difference was when he holed the winning putt, he didn't have a voice to scream. He bent his knees and repeatedly pumped both arms.

Watson became the 14th player to win a major and a World Golf Championship. Watson moved to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking, making him the highest-ranked American, and it was his seventh career PGA TOUR win. Sweeter yet, he picked up a trophy far away from home.

"Being able to win outside the U.S., I just want to be able to travel and get through the jet lag, get through all the things and still perform at a high level," Watson said. "So for me to win out here, this is very big. This is very special for me."

That the other five players even had a chance was a bonus.

Watson was 89 yards away from the 16th green when he hit a lob wedge heavy and missed the green, such a bad spot that he did well to keep his chip on the green about 20 feet away. He two-putted for bogey. Then, he found a bunker left of the green on the par-3 17th and couldn't negotiate the soft sand. Using a 56-degree wedge, he left the first shot in the sand. His next one went off the green and onto the fringe, and he two-putted for double bogey.

When the final group behind him walked onto the 16th green, they were so stunned to see a five-way tie for the lead, they asked to make sure it was accurate.

"That's why I went for the green on 16," Kaymer said. "I thought if I can make 3 there, I can square with Bubba. And I saw that he made double bogey on 17, so all of a sudden, there were five guys in the lead."

Watson at that moment appeared to be the least likely of the bunch to hold the trophy. It only made sense later when he was asked why fans find him so intriguing.
"They never know what they're going to get," he said. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bulldogs To Conclude Fall Schedule In Hawaii

Greyson Sigg, Zach Healy, Nicholas Reach, Lee McCoy and Jaime Lopez Rivarola in Hawaii earlier this week.
The Bulldogs will conclude the fall portion of their schedule this weekend in the Ka‘anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational.

Georgia will play Friday through Sunday on the Royal Ka‘anapali Course in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii.

Joining the Bulldogs will be Bowling Green, Cal State Northridge, Clemson, Gonzaga, Hawaii, Hawaii Hilo, Kansas, Loyola Marymount, North Carolina-Wilmington, North Florida, Oregon, Samford, UC-Irvine and Utah Valley State.

The Bulldogs will use a lineup of senior Nicholas Reach, junior Lee McCoy, sophomores Jaime Lopez Rivarola and Greyson Sigg, and freshman Zach Healy.

McCoy leads the Bulldogs with a scoring average of 68.67, with a victory and a runner-up effort in his two events. Reach is at 72.33, followed by Sigg (72.75), Healy (74.78) and Lopez Rivarola (76.33).

The Bulldogs will open play on Friday with a 2 p.m. EST shotgun start with their counterparts from Hawaii, North Carolina-Wilmington and Gonzaga.

• Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, Brendon Todd and Bubba Watson are playing this week in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China.

• Meanwhile, Kevin Kisner and Hudson Swafford are competing in the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi.

• In case you missed it, here are the final earnings from the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, according to the Rivals Cup. The Bulldogs finished with more money than No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 3 Georgia Tech combined, likely setting a standard that never will be matched again. Georgia doesn't have a win yet in 2014-15, but the Bulldogs' earnings are up there again.

• Athens was a choice for Golfweek's Greens and Gridirons earlier this fall. If you didn't see it online or in print, here is the link.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Georgia Golf Loses A Great Friend With The Passing of Eddie Sams

Eddie Sams, a 1960s Georgia golf letterman and a driving force behind the Tee-Off Club, passed away on Monday following an extended illness.

Eddie Sams (L) instructs Bill Brown.
Born and raised in Athens, Sams was a three-year letterman for Coach Howell Hollis from 1960 through 1962. He helped the Bulldogs compile an overall record of 35-9-2, including 16-0-1 mark in 1961. Sams and the Bulldogs won Southeastern Conference titles in 1961 and 1962 and posted top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championship.

Sams was a past director and vice president of the Georgia State Golf Association and a former chairman of the Southern Intercollegiate Fall Classic. Sams also served as a volunteer coach for the Bulldogs.

Eddie Sams as a Bulldog in the 1960s.
Sams worked tirelessly to help create and sustain the Tee-Off Club, the booster club for the Georgia’s men’s golf team. Sams was a longtime club president and was the chairman emeritus. The Eddie Sams Award is given annually to a patron and a letterman who make lasting contributions to the program.

“Eddie was a tremendous Bulldog throughout his life,” Georgia coach Chris Haack said. “He lived and breathed Georgia Golf as a player, a letterman and a coach. Eddie had a vision of how strong our program could be, and he did everything he could to make that vision come true. He was a hard-working man and he never looked for a pat on the back; he did what he did because he loved Georgia Golf. I appreciate everything that Eddie did for me personally and for our program, and I will miss him dearly. We send Sharyn, their sons and the rest of Eddie's family our deepest condolences.”

The funeral is scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Athens. Visitation will follow the funeral. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be made to the Tee-Off Club.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Kisner, Kirk, Henley Come In Fourth In McGladrey Classic

Russell Henley blasts out of the sand on Sunday in the McGladrey Classic.
Kevin Kisner, Chris Kirk and Russell Henley paced the Bulldogs by placing in a tie for fourth place in the McGladrey Classic on the Seaside Course at Sea Island.

Kisner, Kirk and Henley each wound up at 12-under. Hudson Swafford also had a strong tournament as he took 12th at 10-under. In addition, Brian Harman was 41st at 5-under, Erik Compton and Brendon Todd were 48th at 4-under, and Harris English missed the cut.

• The Bulldogs dominated the Rivals Cup last season, and they're off to a good start again. Through the McGladrey Classic, Georgia players had earned $1,305,134. Clemson is No. 2 at $1,277,900 and Kansas State is No. 3 with 1,178,733.

Swafford leads the way with $359,214, followed by Kisner ($296,664), Kirk and Henley ($220,500), English ($102,300), Compton ($72,281), Harman ($19,600) and Todd ($14,075).

• Joey Garber, T.J. Mitchell, Adam Mitchell, Matt McQuillan and Michael Cromie have advanced to the second stage of the Tour Q-School. Garber placed 16th at Johns Creek, Ga.; T.J. Mitchell took seventh in Nebraska City, Neb.; Adam Mitchell came in 10th at Pine Mountain, Ga.; McQuillan took fifth in Beaumont, Calif.; and Cromie came in 25th in Pinehurst, N.C. The second stage tournaments will be held Nov. 11-14 and Nov. 18-21, with the finals set for Dec. 11-16 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.