We interrupt all this football talk to interject a little golf news. . . .
Recent UGA graduate Harris English will announce tomorrow at Black Creek Club in Chattanooga that he will turn pro and join the Nationwide Tour, according to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. His professional debut is expected to come in the Children’s Hospital Classic on Oct. 6-9 at Black Creek, where he grew up learning and playing the game. English won the Nationwide’s Children’s Hospital Invitational in Ohio just a late July 24, but entered as an amateur in order to remain eligible to play on the U.S. Walker Cup team.
Last week, English was in Scotland representing the U.S. along with UGA teammate and fellow Nationwide Tour event winner Russell Henley. The heavily-favored U.S. team lost to Great Britain 14-12. Henley was also expected to turn upon his return.
“Both of those guys were going to turn pro right away,” Georgia golf coach Chris Haack said. “From my standpoint, it’s great to see those guys fulfill their dreams. Because of their situations, they’ve given themselves a great opportunity to succeed.”
Both players are expected to make their pro debuts in the Soboba Golf Classic in San Jacinto, Calif., on Sept. 22, Haack said.
Because of more time passed since his victory in the UGA Stadion Classic in Athens in May, Henley’s situation is a little more complicated.
After winning the Stadion, Henley had 60 days to turn pro and be exempt the rest of the year on the Nationwide Tour, as well as next year. He decided to remain amateur, however, so he could represent his country on the Walker Cup team. As a result, he’ll have get sponsor’s exemptions to play in events on the Nationwide and PGA tours the rest of this year before heading to Qualifying School. He is exempt until the final stage of Q-school, however, and will be fully exempt on the Nationwide Tour beginning in 2012.
Because English is within 60 days of his Nationwide Tour victory, he will have fully-exempt status right away.. That gives him the opportunity to finish in the top 25 and possibly qualify for the big tour next year.
“I’d be surprised if Russell didn’t get into every event he wants to,” Haack said. “I’d think because of he’s a past winner and a Walker Cup team member they’d want him to play.”
There have only been three victories by an amateur on the NWT, and two were this summer by UGA guys. The third was Daniel Summerhays of Brigham Young University (2007 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational)
A third senior from last year’s UGA team, Hudson Swofford, has already won on the eGolf Tour. It was just his sixth pro start.
– Chip Towers