THE MONDAY REWIND:
We have officially entered the dog days of summer as Georgia’s football coaches are trying to squeeze in a little vacation before the grind of recruiting evaluations and preseason preparation cranks up in earnest the first of July.
Georgia coach Mark Richt has, in fact, left the country. He and his wife Katharyn have embarked on a Christian mission to Honduras with the World Vision organization. You may recall my report late last month that Richt, after reading the World Vision book “The Hole in the Gospel,” decided to sell his $2 million Lake Hartwell property and use some of the proceeds to help the extremely impoverished. This trip is a result of that decision.
In the meantime, AJC reporter Steve Hummer is following the Richts on their five-day adventure to Central America. Hummer will be filing daily reports that you’ll be able to read here on AJC.com and he will chronicle the whole trip in a story that will run in the Sunday paper. So stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, the Georgia football team remains in full grind under the watchful eye of strength and conditioning coordinator Joe Tereshenski Jr. Their voluntary workouts remain closed and Tereshinski is declining interviews until “sometime after July 4th.” But I happened to run into him over the weekend and I’ll just say he has been working the Bulldogs extremely hard and has some very positive reports about what they’ve been doing.
UGA golfers draw some notice
All eyes in golf have been on Rory McIlroy as the young Irishman annihilated the field in record-setting fashion at the U.S. Open. But some Georgia golfers were also making names for themselves this past weekend.
Recent UGA graduate Russell Henley made some new fans in the galleries at Congressional when he shot out to 4-under at one point on Saturday and made a run at low amateur on Sunday. He had some late struggles and wound up second among amateurs at 4-over, which tied for 42nd. But he pulled off some amazing shots and won the hearts of many golf fans in the process.
“Coming down the 18th, the sides were just filled with people and everybody stood up and clapped for me,” the 22-year-old amateur told John Boyette of the Augusta Chronicle. “It’s something I’ll remember for a long time. It was loud. Yeah, I hit some shots and had a decent tournament. But that was a beautiful moment.”
Also, former Bulldog and upstart pro Christo Greyling made the cut and got his dream pairing on Sunday as he played with Phil Mickelson. He finished in a tie for 68th at 13-over-par.
Meanwhile, UGA’s Bryden Macpherson won the British Amateur on Saturday and qualified for the British Open and The Masters in the process. He beat American Michael Stewart 3 & 2 in the 36-hole final.
Macpherson, a rising junior at Georgia, became only the second Australian to win a British Am. He joined Doug Bachli, who last did it in 1954.
“I can’t believe it just yet,” Macpherson said afterward. “It feels pretty good to bridge the gap of 57 years. I hope there are a few proud Aussies having a barbecue.”
Macpherson is the second Bulldog to win the British Am. Vinny Giles did it in 1975.
Big weekend for JT
Hope you got to see our coverage of Johnathan Taylor’s special weekend with the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers at Turner Field. The Bulldogs’ injured center fielder was recently drafted by the Rangers and joined fellow draftee/teammate Zach Cone and another Texas selection for an introductory news conference at the ballpark on Saturday.
Cone is, of course, the teammate with whom Taylor collided while trying to catch a line drive early this past season. Taylor ended up with a broken neck and — for now at least — confined to a wheelchair. But according to a column by Jeff Schultz and a story by AJC reporter Meghan Rose, Taylor fully intends to play baseball again. As Schultz wrote, he has truly become an inspiration for us all.
‘Slon’ called in as Bulldog Club chief
Mark Slonaker was named the new executive director of the Georgia Bulldog Club by AD Greg McGarity this past Friday. I’ve known “Slon,” as he’s known to pretty much everybody, since he was an assistant for former UGA basketball coach Hugh Durham in the 1980s. And this is an exciting move for him.
Slonaker returned to UGA, his alma mater, in 2008 to work in the development office after he was dismissed as Mercer’s head basketball coach. Since then he has been raising money for the university on the West Coast. But this gets him back fully involved with athletic department.
Georgia actually hasn’t had a full-time director of the Bulldog Club since Loran Smith retired several years ago. Dave Muia, most recently, handled the duties therein as a special alumni relations consultant for the AD the past couple of years. But the position has been reactivated and broadened in scope under McGarity.
“I’ll be doing a lot of fund raising and friend raising,” Slonaker told me. “What I want to do is, I want all the people who support Georgia athletics to look at the athletic program and see value in it in their eyes and want to be invested in it. Whether it be a season ticket holder or a naming opportunity or whatever it is, I want them to look at the University of Georgia and say ‘it’s worthwhile and I want to support it.’”
It’s a perfect fit for Slonaker, who has also served as color commentator on Georgia men’s basketball radio broadcasts the last two seasons. Slonaker has always been active in the administrative side of athletics, serving as a de facto assistant AD for Bobby Pope at Mercer and even teaching sports management as an adjunct professor.
“I always envisioned that I wouldn’t coach until I was 65-70,” Slon said. “I always thought by my mid to late 50s I’d move into athletic administration. I’ve always prepared myself for that.
Slonaker doesn’t officially start until July 11 but he’ll get to wear his new Bulldog Club hat on Thursday when he M.C.’s a UGA Day event in Denver.