Back for Seconds

by Mike Purkey

 Jul 17, 2019 at 6:53 PM

Now two-time Wyndham Champion Brandt Snedeker wasted no time earning his ninth career win

Brandt Snedeker walks fast, talks fast, and plays fast. And at last year’s Wyndham Championship, he harnessed all that speed into the ultimate quick start, shooting 59 in the first round at Sedgefield Country Club on his way to a rapid finish on Sunday and his ninth PGA Tour victory.

Only 10 sub-60 rounds have been recorded on the PGA Tour since Al Geiberger posted the first 59 in 1977 at the Memphis Classic. Along with Geiberger, only David Duval (1999 CareerBuilder Challenge), Stuart Appleby (2010 A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier) and Justin Thomas (2017 Sony Open in Hawaii) were previously able to shoot 59s and goon to win that week.

“It’s been a really emotional and stressful week, to say the least, to start the way I did at a tournament that means so much to me,” said Snedeker, who has been a brand ambassador fo Wyndham since he won the Wyndham in 2007. “To have your first Tour win, you ask anybody out here on Tour, it’s always special to him.

“It just means the world tome that I was able to do it here in Greensboro with Wyndham Worldwide being the sponsor.”

The 38-year-old Snedeker has put together a well-regarded career on Tour. He turned pro in 2004 after finishing 41st at the Masters as an amateur. His invitation to Augusta National came as the result of his victory at the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links, a tournament that doesn’t exist any longer.

Snedeker played three years on the Tour, graduating to the big Tour in 2007 after finishing ninth on the Tour money list with two victories and a runner-up. He was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2007 after winning the Wyndham and earning a trip to the Tour Championship.

Since then, Snedeker has risen steadily in the professional ranks. In 2008, he finished tied for third in his first Masters since turning pro. He was tied for the lead on Sunday after an eagle on the par-5 3rd hole but wound up shooting 77.

His second Tour win came at the 2011 Heritage at Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island. The following year was his best on Tour. Snedeker beat Kyle Stanley on the second playoff hole to win the Farmers Insurance Open. Later that summer, he finished tied for third at the Open Championship.

At season’s end, he won the Tour Championship at East Lake by three shots over Justin Rose and in the process, won the $10 million prize for capturing the season-long points race for the FedEx Cup. He won his fifth Tour title in 2013 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and won it again in 2015. He won his second Farmers Insurance Open title in 2016.

Prior to his 2018 Wyndham victory, Snedeker had spent much of the previous two seasons with injuries.

“To be injured, to be away from the game for five and a half months, to not know what the recovery was going to look like, to not know if you’re going to be 100 percent again and still dealing with it to this day,” Snedeker said in Greensboro last August.

“I guess it’s a fact of life as you get older out here, you’re going to have to deal with certain nagging injuries all the time. It’s always in the back of my mind. It’s been a tough year, year and a half, two years for me, to be honest with you. When you don’t have your health out here and you’re trying to fight through it, it’s really tough because you know what you’re capable of and your body’s not letting you do what you think you should be able to do.”

The 2018 Wyndham started with the milestone 59 that ended with a 20-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole at Sedgefield, which was his last hole of the day. Snedeker’s previous low score on Tour was a 61 at the Buick Invitational in his rookie year.

Winning the 2018 Wyndham was the culmination of enough physical healing combined with the difficult work of coming back from serious injury. But in the end, winning with his children in the gallery – Lily, who was 7 at the time, and 6-year-old Austin – made the victory even more special.

“It’s great to have my kids being here when they are old enough to understand what it means, what Daddy does for a living,” he said. “They’ve been telling me for two years they want to see a trophy, they want to hold a trophy and I’ve been failing them for two years.

“It’s a great teaching lesson for them. They’ve seen how hard I’ve worked. They’ve seen the amount of time I’ve spent away from them trying to get to this point, so it’s good for them to see, hey, it works, pays off. If you keep your head on straight and do stuff the right way and keep working your tail off, you do get rewarded.”


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Pro For A Day

by Matt McConnell

 Jul 16, 2019 at 7:41 PM

Pro-Ams offer unforgettable experiences

You're excited for the day. You’ll be doing something you love. But man, there sure are a lot of people watching you – and cameras clicking. Playing the historic Sedgefield Country Club is a thrill on any given day, but playing the Pro-Ams next to an actual PGA Tour player is on a whole other level.

The Wyndham Championship offers two Pro-Am experiences, the first presented by BB&T on Monday and the second on Wednesday benefiting the Louis DeJoy and Aldona Z. Wos Family Foundation. While you are treated like royalty with the Wyndham’s high-end customer entertainment, it is the closest feeling you will ever get to actually playing on the PGA Tour.

On the first tee, where you get to meet the tour player you are paired to play golf with the next 18 holes, nervousness sets in. “Wow, I am really about to play golf with this guy?” goes through your head while you take photos with him.

The PGA player is introduced by the starter to the surrounding crowd in the stands. After he hits his tee shot down the middle and receives applause, your anxiety really kicks in. Your name is announced next to tee off. You must hit a great shot down the middle in front of everyone like the Pro... but you’re shaking. Some people thrive under this pressure, but others find it difficult to just tee up their golf ball.

After the first drive, a sense of relief takes over as you begin to walk away from the crowd and really get to enjoy your day. It is so much fun as PGA Tour golfers are very personable and give you all of their time. The atmosphere gets more relaxed from hole to hole as vendors serve small bites of high-end dishes from their restaurants. Even though you’re burning calories walking the course with a caddie, your stomach remains full at all times.

The caddies fuel themselves for the additional energy needed to carry the golf bags but also get in on the golf action. The par 3 on #16 brings extra excitement as the caddies get their chance to win a free car displayed next to the tee box if they hit a hole-in-one.

After you make it through your day up to the elevated #18 green, everyone shakes hands with the spectators viewing from the luxury platforms. It’s an event where everyone wins, as more than half of the Pro-Am sponsorship goes to charity.

Back Nine Banter

The first year McConnell Golf hosted the Wyndham Championship in 2011, John McConnell was paired to play with Webb Simpson in the Pro-Am. Webb struggled throughout the day, landing in bunkers and missing putts. On the back nine John McConnell turned around and whispered to his sons, “There is no way this kid is going to make the cut.” Four days later Simpson captured his first PGA Tour win with McConnell, his new biggest fan, looking on.

One of McConnell’s favorite memories interacting with a pro came in 2015 when he played with Ollie Schniederjans in the Monday Pro-Am. He told the rookie that his low ball flight was perfect for the windy conditions in the Open Championship where Schniederjans finished in the top ten a month prior. Schniederjans confidently responded by saying, “My game is good anywhere,” as he struck the ball low over Sedgefield’s fairway.

That Wednesday, McConnell played with Tiger Woods, who asked him if anyone had hit the drive into the creek on #18, to which he said, “No.” Well, McConnell was sure sweating it when Tiger teed off on 18 that Saturday, tied with lead, as he came up just 15 yards short of the creek.

In 2017 Wyndham winner Henrik Stenson was also paired with the McConnells during that week’s Pro-Am.


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Stenson’s Road to Victory

by Brad King

 Aug 14, 2018 at 7:45 PM

Henrik Stenson lives up to his billing and captures the 2017 Wyndham Championship. His victory is another notch for the stoic Swede, whose career has seen both highs and lows.

Henrik Stenson entered last summer's Wyndham Championship as the prohibitive favorite. The strapping Swede, known for his pure ball-striking and savage sense of humor, arrived at Sedgefield Country Club ranked No. 9 in the world, making him the highest-rated player in the 2017 field. The Wyndham is now the final PGA Tour stop before the FedExCup Playoffs, meaning it’s a must-play for those looking to earn points to either qualify for, or improve their standing, entering the Playoffs.

However, without the lure of gaining Ryder Cup points, many of the world’s best took the week off in 2017. So Stenson — the 2016 British Open champion, Olympic silver medalist, and 2013 FedExCup champion — was the man to beat at Sedgefield.

He lived up to his billing early in the week, first joining forces with the McConnell Golf team to capture the Wednesday Pro-Am, then followed by an opening-round 62 that left him one shot off the lead.

Eventually, however, the 41-year-old would need a Sunday back-nine birdie barrage to fire a 6-under 64 and eke out a one-stroke victory over PGA Tour rookie Ollie Schniederjans. A 24-year-old, former three-time All-American at Georgia Tech, Schniederjans rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole in Sunday’s final round.

Then, he nearly holed out for an eagle from 163 yards at the par-4 18th. The solo second was the best finish of his career and fifth inside the top 10. “I had to keep on making birdies,” said Stenson. “Ollie was surely not backing down. I thought I had a two-shot cushion. As I walked over to the 18th hole and looked around ... ‘Oh, OK, Schniederjans birdied it as well. So, I better scramble a par here to get the win."

With Schniederjans watching the TV broadcast and hoping for a tie, Stenson missed a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 18 just right of the cup, before calmly draining a 3-footer to clinch his first victory since his historic 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon — where Stenson outgunned Phil Mickelson for his first major in a final-round showdown for the ages. “When I stuffed it on No. 18, I thought that’s probably going to be a playoff,” said Schniederjans. “Stenson birdied 17 and got par on 18. Hats off to him — he had a great finish, too. Just one short.”

Low scores and tight leaderboards once again were the norm at Sedgefield. With seven holes left for the final pairing, a quartet of players — Stenson, Schniederjans, Ryan Armour, and Kevin Na — shared the lead at 18 under.

“It was anyone’s tournament on the back nine,” said Stenson, who had four birdies in a five-hole stretch of the back nine on both Saturday and Sunday.

Finishing in solo third was former Wake Forest star Webb Simpson, who carded a three-under 67 to finish at 18-under 262. The Charlotte resident and 2012 U.S. Open champion, who claimed his first PGA Tour title at the 2011 Wyndham Championship, recorded his fourth career top-6 Wyndham result.

Meanwhile, 2015 Wyndham champ Davis Love III — who at 53 years old was seeking to become the oldest winner in PGA Tour history — finished eight shots back in a tie for 10th.

Stenson left his Callaway Epic driver in his locker all week and he certainly didn’t need it on the par-70 Sedgefield course. After battling injuries early in the season, Stenson managed to set a Wyndham tournament record — finishing at 22-under 258 to break the Ross course’s 72-hole record set by Carl Pettersson in 2008 and matched in 2017 by Si Woo Kim. In addition, with the victory Stenson not only earned $1,044,000 and 500 FedExCup points, his sixth career Tour victory also made him Sweden’s winningest man of all-time, distancing himself from Pettersson and Jesper Parnevik, who each captured five PGA Tour titles.

Ironically, Stenson wasn’t even supposed to be in Greensboro. The tournament was a late addition because Stenson needed to reach 15 starts on the PGA Tour to keep his card for the new season.

“It’s a bit of a tough stretch to play five in a row, but I wanted to secure my 15 and hopefully pick up some momentum and surely I did,” he said. “It’s funny how it goes. Sometimes it’s just a coincidence why you decide to go to a tournament and make a change in your schedule, and this time it certainly worked out for a lot of good. This is a great tournament. We’ve been looked after very, very well. They do a lot for the fans and for the players this week.”

Ups and Downs

Stenson made his first major stamp on the game in 2013, when he completed a remarkable feat by winning the FedEx-Cup in America as well as the Road to Dubai, the European Tour equivalent. But things haven’t always run so smoothly for the stoic Swede.

A natural lefty who didn’t start playing golf until he was 12, Stenson turned pro in 1998 and found some early success on the European Tour. But at the 2001 European Open at the K Club in Ireland, his game and his confidence took a major hit. Playing with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Sandy Lyle, Stenson came to the K Club’s 13th hole and hit a massive slice that would not have been so alarming if he had not hit a massive hook on the same hole a day prior.

Stenson said he had no idea where the ball was going and was so spooked by his lack of form that he walked off the course and withdrew. “After nine holes, I told the guys they’d be better off without me,” Stenson recalled. “The balls were all over the place.”

In 2002, he managed just eight cuts in 22 events and fell to No. 621 in the world rankings. Yet, Stenson slowly made his way back among the game’s elite, winning in 2004, earning a spot on the European Ryder Cup team in 2006, joining the PGA Tour in 2007, and claiming his then-biggest victory at the 2009 Players Championship.

Stenson would endure another downturn soon after, eventually falling back to as low as No. 230. Much of his second slump was attributed to financial setbacks suffered in a Ponzi scheme from which Stenson was swindled out of more than $7 million. The scam’s mastermind, Allen Stanford, was later convicted of fraud and sentenced to 110 years in prison.

“After I won the Tour Championship and the FedExCup, I actually flew from Atlanta to my home in Orlando having collected more than $11 million,” Stenson said. “And when I was on the plane,

I worked out that I was flying over the federal prison in Florida where Stanford will likely be for the rest of his life. Yeah, there was satisfaction in that. But it was more thinking about all those people who lost a tremendous amount of money to him but weren’t fortunate enough to make a lot of it back.”

For Stenson, the road to his 2017 Wyndham Championship title has not been without the occasional pothole. But Sweden’s greatest golfer is experienced and mature enough to realize that life is full of ups and downs.

“Of course, I’ve been low and frustrated at times,” he said. “But I’m not giving up. I’m not a quitter. I’ll always bounce back.”

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Tournament Teamwork

by Casey Griffith

 Aug 07, 2018 at 2:34 PM

Dedicated volunteers are the secret to The Wyndham Championship's success.

There's no question that the weeks leading up to the Wyndham Championship bring “Tour fever” to Greensboro — a city that fully embraces all the fervor that comes with some 150 world-class golfers. Traffic signs go up, hotels and restaurants brim with fans, and even the local weather is projected on Sedgefield Country Club’s vibrant, velvety greens.

But behind the scenes, the gears that power the week-long festivities aren’t as visible. Far beyond club and event staffers, it takes an army of 1,600 local volunteers to make sure professionals and spectators alike enjoy the Wyndham, twice named the PGA’s most fan-friendly event. Since 2008, Bill and Donna Richardson have volunteered alongside fellow Sedgefield Country Club members to man the ninth hole gallery, undoubtedly one of the course’s busiest due to its location just behind the clubhouse.

With his tenure, Mr. Richardson now coordinates the volunteer effort for this area of the course. “We enjoy working with the people, and having the same folks back year after year to serve,” he says. “They’re so cooperative and willing to help, it makes the job easy.”

When you think of a tournament volunteer, the first image that pops into your mind is probably a tall, slender sign reading “Quiet.” That, and perhaps a guilty flashback if you happen to have been on the receiving end of a stern “I know you know better” glance when speaking too loudly while players are on the green. Lest we forget, these subtle enforcements preserve golf fans’ ability to be up-and-close with the players. After all, in what other sport can you get close enough to watch the muscles tense in your hero’s arms right before he sends a perfectly connected tee shot hurling down the fairway?

But there’s a lot more to being a volunteer than crowd control. Kellie Rhoney, the volunteer coordinator for the Wyndham Championship, has an intimate understanding of just how much they contribute. “Volunteers play a vital role in every aspect of the tournament, whether it’s preparation prior to the event, gallery control, tear-down after the tournament, or even operating ShotLink,” she says.

Yes, those tripods you see along the fairway are also staffed by volunteers and, thanks to recent tech advancements, shot distances are now measured with digital prowess. The ShotLink System uses lasers and 3D mapping software to calculate how far the ball travels and gives fans fast and accurate stats for each shot a golfer makes on each hole. This data is then electronically sent to scoreboards throughout the course to ensure fans don’t miss a minute, or an inch, of the action.

To operate the system, volunteers undergo a specific training regimen, and this skill then becomes their discipline moving forward. Formerly, shot distances were recorded by hand and manually populated to scoreboards, which took considerably more time.

With all the moving parts and know-how involved to seamlessly power such a large event, the value of these volunteer forces is immense. Rhoney eagerly shares her gratitude. “I wholeheartedly believe that volunteers are essential for the success of the Wyndham Championship. It would be nearly impossible to run the tournament without them. We are very appreciative of the dedication and hard work that our volunteers put forth, and I consider myself lucky to have such a great group who is determined to make the Wyndham Championship a great experience for all.”

So remember to give them a quick “thank you” while enjoying the tournament this year. Their passion for the sport is a big part of what keeps Greensboro a golfing town, and the Wyndham Championship right here at home.


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Palmer's Greensboro Legacy

by Mike Purkey

 Mar 21, 2018 at 4:21 PM

The King's Affinity for Greensboro

The first ACC golf tournament was staged in 1954 at Old Town Club and was won by Arnold Palmer, who had re-entered Wake Forest after a three year hitch in the Coast Guard. Palmer had withdrawn from school, despondent about the death of his close friend and Wake teammate Buddy Worsham.

Worsham was responsible for Palmer being at Wake Forest. Worsham was a prized recruit and before entering school asked athletic director Jim Weaver if he could bring along a friend. Weaver wanted to know if that friend could play golf and Worsham assured the AD that Palmer could, indeed, play.

With Palmer and Worsham as the anchors, Wake Forest won three Southern Conference championships. Palmer won the ACC individual title in 1948 and 1949 and was the NCAA individual winner in 1950.

On October 14, 1950, Worsham and teammate Gene Scheer went to the Wake Forest homecoming dance in Durham after Palmer and Jim Flick turned them down, going to a movie instead. That night, a one-car wreck killed Worsham and Scheer.

Palmer left Wake Forest after the 1954 ACC Championship without graduating, heading instead to a career on the PGA
Tour. When he started having success as a professional, he endowed the Buddy Worsham Scholarship at Wake Forest in 1963. Years later, Palmer endowed another scholarship in his own name and went on to endow six more scholarships
at Wake. But the Worsham Scholarship remains the most prestigious.

The Greater Greensboro Open tournament became important to Palmer. He played it 13 times, even coming to Greensboro during the years the tournament was played the week before the Masters, when most big-name players skipped the event to get ready for Augusta.

Palmer always said he had an affinity for Greensboro and the GGO, drawn to Sedgefield because of the memories of his old friend and teammate, Worsham. And as if playing in the event was not enough to boost the fortunes and galleries of the GGO, he once called in a big favor and got his friend Bob Hope to come to Greensboro and play in the pro-am.

In 1965, Palmer agreed to attend the first Champions Dinner. While flying to town, he encountered bad weather preventing his landing in Greensboro. He could land in Charlotte but would need a ride to Greensboro. Jim Melvin, Greensboro’s mayor at the time, convinced the Highway Patrol to pick up Palmer at the Charlotte airport and race him to Greensboro. And race they did: They made it to the dinner in an astounding 45 minutes.

Palmer never won the GGO, coming close in 1972 when he had a two-shot lead with three holes to play. A triple-bogey
coming in thwarted his chances. But that hole on his resume doesn’t diminish what Palmer meant to Greensboro and the tournament now known as the Wyndham Championship.

Last August, the Wyndham installed a plaque dedicated to Palmer on the Wall of Champions behind the ninth green at Sedgefield. With his grandson, Sam Saunders, in attendance, the plaque was dedicated.

It reads: “Widely considered the most important figure in golf and one of the most influential players in Wyndham Championship history, Arnold Palmer had five top five finishes in 13 appearances at Sedgefield. In 1963, Palmer established the Buddy Worsham Memorial Scholarship at Wake Forest University in memory of his friend and teammate who died in a car accident while in school. Since that time, scholarship winners have been a consistent presence in the tournament field, always with great appreciation and admiration for Arnie.”

This plaque now serves as a permanent reminder of Palmer’s contributions. Now, there’s something tangible that will
remind people of his legacy every time they pass.

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Sergio's Road from Sedgefield

by John Maginnes

 Aug 25, 2017 at 1:58 PM

Sergio Garcia, the 2012 Wyndham Champion, has used Sedgefield Country Club as a springboard more than once in his career. The Donald Ross gem that hosts the Triad’s annual PGA tour stop is more than just another spot on the calendar for Sergio. It’s the place where it all started.

When Sergio’s birdie putt found the bottom of the cup on that glorious Sunday this past April, it marked the culmination of a life’s work. It was the coronation of a champion and the end of a sometimes agonizing journey. Sergio Garcia had won the Masters, and he would never be viewed the same again. Nearly 18 years after bursting onto the international golf scene at the PGA Championship at Medinah, Illinois, Sergio was finally a major championship winner.


The story begins in August 1999 when the exuberant Spaniard would duel Tiger Woods, the world’s best, and come up just short — but he would never walk in anonymity again. Four- teen months before at the Greensboro Open at Sedgefield, Sergio, then 18 years old, may have been anonymous in the golf world but he certainly wasn’t to the players on the Nike Tour (now Tour), the feeder route to

the PGA Tour. We had seen this kind of emergence a few years before when a skinny 20 year-old showed up in Milwaukee and said, “Hello, world.” Tiger ushered in a remarkable new era in golf. By 1998, he had broken records at the Masters, and it was obvious that the best was yet to come. So when the “next great player” arrived on our driving range, we were paying attention.

I remember thinking just how young Sergio looked that week at Sedgefield. But what we, the players, were most concerned about was his swing. Tiger had changed our approach to the game. For the first time in our lives, many of us went to the gym. We had our eyes opened. Sergio’s swing was lanky with a pronounced lag and down- cock of the wrists that was more old school than modern. He hit balls under the watchful eye of Victor, his father and lifelong swing coach. And Victor wasn’t letting anyone too close to his son in 1998.

Sergio would open that week with 72 on Thursday but come back with 67 on Friday to make the cut by a single shot. His 65 on Saturday was the low round of the day and put him in contention. A 68 on Sunday left Sergio in an unpaid, five-way tie for third. That last bit was fortunate for the other four of us that finished tied for third. Joe Ogilvie from Duke would go on to win that week, but it was Sergio’s debut in America that would be remembered.


After Sedgefield, Sergio won the British Amateur, which came with an invitation to the Masters the following year. At Augusta in 1999, Sergio would finish as low amateur and turn professional the next week. In July, he won the Irish Open shooting 64 in the final round for his first European Tour victory. That victory secured an invitation to the PGA Championship and a date with Tiger at Medinah.

The second-place finish for Sergio at the PGA Championship ensured that he would be the youngest player to compete on either Ryder Cup team. Sergio has represented Europe in every Ryder Cup with the exception of one, but more on that later. After 1999, his game progressed as anticipated. He would win on the PGA Tour for the first time at Colonial in 2001 and later that summer at Westchester.

Sergio would win six times over those next five years and add the Player’s Championship in 2008. Over that same period, he would win six more times on the European Tour. But as Sergio approached his 30th birthday, others were winning on golf’s biggest stage and Sergio was left wanting.

There were times when Sergio was his own worst enemy. He was almost too honest with the press about his frailties. In August 2008, Sergio would lose to Padraig Harrington at the PGA Championship in a heart breaker. Harrington had beaten Sergio the year before in a playoff at the Open Championship. By 2008, Sergio’s futility in the majors was becoming the stuff of lore.

Following the 2008 season, Sergio’s game fell into a precipitous decline. In 2009, he failed to win a tournament anywhere in the world for the first time in his career. The following year was no better and saw a major championship season go by without a Top-10 from Sergio, the first time in a decade that he had failed to contend in a major. That same year, Sergio failed to make the Ryder Cup team for the first time since 1999. Captain Colin Montgomery invited Sergio to be a vice-captain in hopes that it would inspire both the team and Sergio. It worked, at least for the team. Things started to turn around in 2011. He finished in the Top 10 at the US Open, where all eyes were on Rory McIlroy, who won by eight. Sergio would shoot 68 on Sunday at the British Open later that year to slip into the Top 10. Then in late 2011, he would find the winner’s circle again for the first time
in three years. He was the host of the Castello Masters, played at the golf course he grew up on when he finally won again. He would win the next week in Spain again at the Andalucia Masters, which this year Sergio will host at Valderrama.

It appeared that Sergio was back on the right track heading into the 2012 season. But golf is a hard game, and the demons that plague a golfer over time are rarely silent. At the Masters, Sergio was in contention after two rounds, but shot 75 on Saturday. After the round it was difficult to process what Sergio was saying. “I’m not good enough ... I don’t have the thing I need to have,” he began. “In 13 years I have come to the conclusion that I just need to play for second or third place.”

Obviously the exorcism of Sergio’s demons was incomplete. His maturity incomplete as well. We had watched him grow from boy to man on the golf course, but there was still much to learn.


The rest of 2012 was less than stellar. Coming into the Wyndham Champion- ship at Sedgefield, Sergio was 102 in FedEx Cup Points and his focus was in question. He employed a caddie from Eagle Point that was arranged by the tournament committee. But being back at Sedgefield reminded Sergio of the 18-year-old boy who had visited more than a decade before. Seeking his first PGA Tour victory in more than four years, Sergio would have to wait until Monday to get his final shot. Rain halted the final round while the leaders were still on the front nine on Sunday.

But Sergio would post a final round 66 — good enough to bring him back to the winner’s circle. He would take the momentum of his Greensboro victory and parlay it into a trip to the Tour Championship and then on to the Ryder Cup. Fittingly, Sergio was part of the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history that year. His crucial victory over Jim Furyk in the singles was a critical point for the Europeans, who overcame a six-point deficit on the final day. Serendipitously, that feat occurred at Medinah, where Sergio made his first mark in 1999.

Golf fans have enjoyed nearly two decades of Sergio Garcia. Or should I say, golf fans have had a love/hate relationship with Sergio over the years. He was at times polarizing. We have seen him grow from an incredibly talented boy to an international star. He has endured controversy and criticism and yet at times there has never been anyone as hard on Sergio Garcia as Sergio himself. When Tiger called him a “whiner,” Sergio’s reply was that Tiger was finally telling the truth. But with Sergio, it seems that all of those negatives have over time transformed to a positive.

The lifelong bachelor has turned a corner both personally and professionally. He will marry this year. And he is now a major champion. At 37 years old, Sergio’s journey is far from complete.

John Maginnes is a former PGA player and hosts the popular Katrek & Maginnes On Tap broadcast on the PGA Tour Satellite Radio Network.

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A Conversation with Mark Brazil

by John Maginnes

 Aug 11, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Wyndham Championship Tournament Director Mark Brazil has served at the helm of the event for 16 years, where he has overseen both a title sponsor change and a venue change. We caught up with Mark as final preparations were made for the 2017 Wyndham event.

JOHN MAGINNES: The Wyndham Championship’s 2012 winner is now a Masters Champion. How did that hit you?

Mark Brazil: I have been friends with Sergio for a long time. Like so many, I’ve been pulling for him to break through. As good a ball striker as he is, I felt he could win any major. But for him to do it at the Masters, where there is such a premium on putting, is incredible. So to have another one of our champions win a major just adds to the historical significance of our event.

JM: This is especially true, considering that talk about your defending champion Si Woo Kim and his Players Championship.

MB: Well, you look at what he did here last year. He won in such a dominating fashion with hardly any hiccups that it wasn’t as surprising to us. He has one of the best swings in golf. What was surprising about that win was that he has had back and wrist injuries, so we didn’t know that he was going to be a factor in the event at all. I loved what he said at the awards ceremony, where he referenced how he felt down the stretch at the Wyndham. Remember, this kid turned 22 this summer. We could be looking at a Hall of Fame career.

JM: It’s been nearly a decade since the Wyndham returned to Sedgefield. What do the players tell you now about the golf course?

MB: When we first came, they loved the design. The PGA Tour doesn’t see too many Donald Ross courses, so we had a hit with the course. But what has happened since then has kept them coming back. The condition of Sedgefield, the greens and the fairways are pristine year in and year out. The players know what to expect, and Sedgefield keeps delivering. The house is always in order.

JM: Tell us about the fan experience at the tournament this year.

MB: We are going to have a little differ ent experience this year. Margaritaville is not coming back, but we are going to have something different and exciting in that popular space. We are excited about unveiling it, although I can’t at this time. You’ll just have to check it out. We are creating a new location for the Polo merchandise tent. That is an area we are trying to improve. We love seeing Wyndham Championship shirts at golf courses all year long. And, of course, they are Polo.

JM: Anything else different that we might notice?

MB: There is going to be a different look

and feel. Still with a vacation theme, but a different spin. In a lot of ways, we leave the theme of the event up to Wyndham. We want them to feel true ownership of the event and the best way to do that is to give them authorship of the look and feel. And from that, we do our best to

create the best fan experience we can at the tournament. It doesn’t matter if you bought a $10 practice round ticket or a hospitality ticket — we want you to walk away feeling like you got great value and had a great time.

JM: For the second year in a row, the Wyndham Championship was named the most fan friendly event on the PGA Tour. How does that feel?

MB: The recognition is always nice. We continue to try to grow the event but maintain the principles that make the Wyndham Championship a unique experience on the PGA Tour.


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