Bobby Pope

Golf challenge comes to Idle Hour

If history is any indication, there is a good chance you will see a future PGA Tour winner and possibly a major champion playing this week at Idle Hour Club when the Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Golf matches take place Friday and Saturday.

It’s the 41st year of the competition and the first time the event has been played in Macon. The challenge idea was created by South Carolina Golf Association Junior chairman Charlie Rountree Jr., with the help of former Georgia Amateur champion Pete Cox.

The first 18 years of the challenge featured medal play, but the format was changed in 1995 to match play, which still exists today. The first year, the event was held at Houndslake Country Club in Aiken, South Carolina, and the medalist was future eight-time PGA Tour winner Bob Tway. Tway won the 1986 PGA Championship — making a bunker shot on the final hole at Inverness in Toledo, Ohio, to defeat Greg Norman — and was also the PGA Tour Player of the Year that season.

Tway is one of three major champions from Georgia to play in the challenge. Larry Mize, who won the Masters in 1987, was on the Georgia squad with Tway in the inaugural event. The other major winner from Georgia is Davis Love III, who was on the Georgia challenge team in 1980. He won the PGA title in 1997.

South Carolina has had two major champions to come out of its challenge teams. Lucas Glover played for the Palmetto State in 1994 and 1996 and captured the U.S. Open in 2009, while Dustin Johnson was on the 1999 team and won the U.S. Open last month at Oakmont Country Club.

There have been numerous other tour winners from both states. Among them are Russell Henley, Harris English, Brian Harman, Peter Persons, Gene Sauers, D.J. Trahan, Vaughan Taylor, Jonathan Byrd and Dillard Pruitt.

Middle Georgia has had good representation on the Peach State roster through the years. In addition to Henley and Persons, who are both Macon natives, you have Taylor Floyd, Duncan Walker III, Lee Gerdes and Sonny Trammel.

This year’s Georgia team is made up of Justin Kim, Rome; Alex Ross, Atlanta; Jordan Baker, Cumming; Will Kahlstorf, Canton; Grant Sutliff, Suwanee; Ryan Hines, Woodstock; Logan Perkins, Locust Grove; and Davis Brainard, Dunwoody. Wilson Andress, a rising junior at FPD, is the first alternate after losing a playoff for the team’s final spot to Brainard that went eight holes. The maximum age to qualify for the team is 17.

A conservative estimate is that more than 95 percent of the players who have competed in the Georgia-South Carolina Challenge since its inception four decades ago have gone on to play college golf.

In the head-to-head matchups, Georgia leads the competition 24-13 with three ties. Since the switch to match play in 1996, the Peach State holds a 10-8-3 edge.

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