Notebook: Stadion Classic at UGA

May 01, 2013

FROM ALABAMA TO ST. CROIX – South Georgia Classic winner Will Wilcox credits some life changes for leading him to victory on Sunday in Valdosta. “I’ve made a lot of big life changes in the past four or five months that have allowed me to be more relaxed than I used to be,” the 26-year old from Birmingham, Ala. said. Among them was a move from his native Alabama to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands in January. “My sponsor has a condo there that was getting little use. He suggested I live in it, so I took him up on it. It’s a little cocoon. I’m living right and it’s a lot easier to play well when you know you’ve done the right things and treat people the way you should.”

MORE ON WILCOX – Will Wilcox jumped from 55th to 3rd on the Tour money list, putting him on a solid track to earn his PGA TOUR card for the first time…Since turning pro in 2009, Wilcox has only played in two TOUR events…Eagles on Saturday (par-4, 12th, holed 7-iron from 193 yards) and Sunday (par-4, 7th hole, holed wedge from 135 yards) catapulted him to a four-shot win in Valdosta…It was his first win in 49 Tour starts…Wilcox mother, Kim, made the 4 ½-hour drive late Saturday to be at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club on Sunday. Mrs. Wilcox is the women’s golf coach at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and is her son’s instructor…Wilcox overwhelmed the Tour’s longest course (7,781 yards) with a 63 on Saturday, which gave him a seven-shot advantage heading into Sunday. Only nine players broke 70 that day, with the next best score 68…Wilcox established his place on the Tour in 2011 via the Monday qualifying ranks.

STRONG ALUMNI SHOWING IN NEW ORLEANS – The Zurich Classic of New Orleans was packed with Tour alumni. Of the top-14 finishers, 12 were Tour alums as were 24 of the top 30. Winner Billy Horschel collected alumni win No. 354.

WILL ANOTHER BULLDOG WIN AT HOME? - The last two Stadion Classics at UGA have been won by recent UGA alums. In 2011, Russell Henley, who was within a few weeks of graduating from UGA, claimed the title by two shots. Last year, Hudson Swafford, one year removed from his graduation, holed a 72nd-hole bunker shot that proved to be the difference in his first professional win. Swafford returns to defend his title this year and will be joined by fellow Bulldogs Paul Claxton, Ryuji Imada, Kevin Kisner, Scott Parel, Richard Scott and Brendon Todd.

MITCHELL, MITCHELL, MITCHELL / BULLDOG, BULLDOG, BULLDOG - Every year the Stadion Classic at UGA sets aside two sponsor exemptions that go to the top two Bulldog golfers based on their season-long scoring averages through the SEC Championship. Representing coach Chris Haack's team this year are senior captain T.J. Mitchell (72.07) from Albany, Ga. and junior Keith Mitchell (72.29) from Chattanooga, Tenn. A third UGA graduate with the same last name was added to the field when Adam Mitchell, also of Chattanooga, finished T15 in the South Georgia Classic. Any player who finishes inside the top 25 in a Tour event earns a spot in the following tournament. None of the Mitchells is related.

MAKING THE MOST OF HIS OPPORTUNITIES – John Peterson’s return to the Tour will be delayed by at least a week. Playing on a sponsor exemption in his adopted state, the LSU product snared a top-10 finish (T8) on Sunday in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which secured him a spot in this week’s Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C. on the PGA TOUR. The Baton Rouge resident played the Masters three weeks ago having earned an invitation (finished 60th). Peterson is currently 45th on the Tour money list.

NEW FACES – The Tour welcomes three new people to its staff – Jody Brothers (Sr. Director, Tournament Business Affairs), Katie Wilson (Coordinator, Sales & Marketing) and Brad McGahey (Tournament Operations Coordinator). Brothers is a familiar face to many having been GM of TPC Stonebrae when the Tour played there and, more recently, directed The First Tee campaign which reached and exceeded its $100 million goal. Wilson comes to the Tour from the University of Florida and the AJGA, while McGahey is a Canisius College graduate who worked for TMSI Logistics and was a golf professional/instructor prior to that near his Buffalo, N.Y.-area home.

NEXT WEEK – The Tour is off the week of THE PLAYERS Championship, resuming play May 16-19 at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation in Greenville, S.C.