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Top amateur David Ford fulfills dream alongside identical twin at RSM Classic

4 Min Read


UNC's David Ford (Anthony Sorbellini)

UNC's David Ford (Anthony Sorbellini)

    Written by Paul Hodowanic @PaulHodowanic

    ATLANTA – David Ford hurried off the 15th green at Atlanta Athletic Club, his stride set back towards the tee box. The same one where David Toms made an infamous hole-in-one en route to his 2001 PGA Championship victory. The same one Ford has played so many times as a lifelong member of the club. The same one that, moments earlier, he hit a piercing 6-iron to 20 feet to win his match 4 and 3 against Florida State’s Frederik Kjettrup, a top 20 amateur.

    There was a fervor to Ford’s movement, not because he had just finished an undefeated week at the East Lake Cup. It was a critical point for the University of North Carolina’s championship hopes, too. His antsy anticipation instead was directed towards who was next to tee off at the 227-yard par 3 – his identical twin Maxwell.

    UNC'S Maxwell Ford (UNC Athletics)

    UNC'S Maxwell Ford (UNC Athletics)

    UNC'S Maxwell Ford (UNC Athletics)

    UNC'S Maxwell Ford (UNC Athletics)

    There’s a unique bond between the brothers centered around a shared dream: Playing on the PGA TOUR. Each was a highly-touted junior golfer recruited by top Division I schools. They briefly veered off their inseparable path, choosing different colleges before Maxwell transferred after two seasons at the University of Georgia and joined David at North Carolina. Both have remained tantalizing prospects. David ranks fifth in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Maxwell ranks 30th.

    Now, they’ll get the first taste of their dream. Both are in the field at The RSM Classic. They are the third pair of twins to compete on TOUR this season. Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard competed at The Open Championship while Pierceson and Parker Coody both played The Honda Classic.

    David qualified for the event by winning the 2023 Jones Cup, a prestigious amateur event held annually at Sea Island Golf Club in January. Former winners include Justin Thomas, Ludvig Åberg, Akshay Bhatia and Corey Conners.

    Maxwell initially hoped to play his way in through the Monday qualifier but received a sponsor’s exemption shortly before the event.

    “I’m really excited,” David said while standing greenside of the 16th hole at Atlanta Athletic Club.

    He stopped mid-sentence – Maxwell was about to putt. He missed, his match now tied heading to the 17th hole.

    “Let’s go, he’s still got this,” David said quietly.

    The brothers, now juniors in college, have always been intensely competitive. But it’s void of any resentment. They want to beat each other, of course, but ultimately everybody else in the field.

    “They’re extremely kind to each other,” North Carolina men's head coach Andrew DiBitetto said.

    UNC Men's golf team at the East Lake Cup.

    UNC Men's golf team at the East Lake Cup.

    “The first thing David says when he closes out matches is, ‘How's Maxwell doing? Where is he?’" added Atlanta Athletic Club PGA Professional Chris Moore, who has known both since they were young and is David’s swing coach. "He was more concerned about that. Maxwell is the same. ... They’re genuinely pulling for each other."

    As of late, the edge has gone to David. He has won four times in the last 18 months to vault himself into the top tier of amateurs. Maxwell is still searching for his first win. David made his first TOUR start at the Barbasol Championship earlier this year. He has seven points in the PGA TOUR University Accelerated Program. Maxwell will be making his TOUR debut.

    David Ford makes birdie on No. 12 at Barbasol

    The RSM Classic will serve as the crescendo of a jam-packed 2023 that furthered David’s rise. It started with the win at the Jones Cup and included a Walker Cup appearance, a fifth-place finish at the World Amateur Team Championship, ACC Player of the Year honors and his TOUR debut. He is the top performer for a North Carolina team considered by most as the favorite for the NCAA Championships. He has the lowest scoring average in Tar Heel history. He sank the winning putt for the U.S. Team during the Walker Cup at the Old Course at St Andrews. David also earned an exemption to the 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard through his appearance in the Palmer Cup.

    His appearance at The RSM Classic will feel different – more personal. A realization of an individual goal that he also gets to share with his closest friend and brother. There were droves of supporters following the East Lake Cup, hosted at Atlanta Athletic Club, his home course (the tournament moved because of the renovation at East Lake). He expects similar crowds at St. Simons Island.

    “It should be quite the atmosphere,” he said.

    Perhaps it will also serve as a welcome party to the next wave of sibling stars.

    “You can't bet on any of these kids to be stars,” Moore said, “but I'd give both these kids better odds than most.”

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