Thanks to his past experience with the American Junior Golf Association, there was no doubt in Mark Brazil’s mind that the Canon Cup was a big hit among the top junior golfers in the world.
When Canon decided to drop its sponsorship of the annual East vs. West in 2011, Brazil, the longtime tournament director at the Wyndham Championship, made sure to pitch the possible sponsorship opportunity to Wyndham. Brazil had cut his teeth in the golf business working for the AJGA and saw what a tremendous event it was through the years.
Brazil said the annual Ryder Cup format tournament was one of the best on the AJGA schedule. He also said that by having Wyndham sponsor it, it could help the Wyndham Championship, the annual PGA Tour stop.
While the Wyndham Invitational, which also features one of the best fields in the AJGA at Sedgefield Country Club, has helped form relationships with the future PGA Tour players, the Wyndham Cup also helps.
“It’s one of the coolest events,” Brazil said last week just off the 18th green at Old Town. “So it’s a big deal for us at the Wyndham Championship.”
The Wyndham Cup was held last week at Old Town Club, and Brazil made sure to be around the tournament as much as he could. He’s been rather busy because the Wyndham Championship is in early August.
“It has been phenomenal, and a big thanks to Wyndham Rewards for helping sponsor this,” Brazil said. “They know this is a crown jewel.”
Among the biggest names at Old Town last week were Michael Thorbjornsen, Karl Vilips, Jackson Van Paris, Brett Roberts and Connor Creasy. Besides the top 20 boys in the AJGA there were also the top 20 girls in the AJGA rankings.
“Out of the 40 kids here there is possibility that 70 to 80 percent of them will play professional golf,” Brazil said. “That’s how good this tournament is, and I know the kids all love competing in a team atmosphere.”
Matthew Wolff, who played in the Wyndham Cup in 2015 at Old Town, has already made his mark on the PGA Tour by winning the 3M Open just outside of Minneapolis on Sunday. It was just the fourth start of his PGA Tour career for the 20 year old.
Wolff, a former Oklahoma State star, had been given a sponsor’s exemption for the Wyndham Championship but now he won’t need it. Wolff is now a full member of the PGA Tour with his victory, just four years after he played in the Wyndham Cup.
Many of the golfers at the Wyndham Cup last week have one or even two years left of junior golf before heading to college. Many are heading to college this fall, but Brazil already has gotten to know them thanks to the Wyndham Cup.
“I’ve tried to be here as much as I can to get to know these kids for when they do get out of college and try to get to the professional level,” Brazil said. “I got to play in the Pro-am with Brett Roberts, who won the (AJGA) Wyndham Invitational so that was cool.”
Roberts played his way onto the winning East team thanks to his win at the Wyndham Invitational last month. That victory gave him enough of a push in the AJGA rankings to make the East team, which beat the West team in the 30th edition of the event.
A bonus for Brazil and the Wyndham Championship is the tournament was held at Old Town, just like it was in 2015. The Wyndham Cup moves around from year to year, but Old Town will likely play host to it again.
“Old Town and their members do a phenomenal job with this tournament so we’re thrilled that they have had it twice now since 2015,” Brazil said.
U.S. Amateur next month at Pinehurst
There were more than 7,100 entries for this year’s 119th U.S. Amateur, which will be in mid-August at Pinehurst No. 2.
Among the 66 players exempt for the 312-player field were two golfers who played in last week’s Wyndham Cup at Old Town. Michael Thorbornsen and Karl Vilips, who have both committed to Stanford, are in the field.
“I’m looking forward to (it),” Thorbornson said.
Thorbornsen, 17, made the cut at the U.S. Open last month at Pebble Beach and in 2018 won the Wyndham Invitational at Sedgefield C.C.
Also in the field are Greensboro’s Scott Harvey along with current Wake Forest golfer Alex Fitzpatrick, a rising sophomore, and Cameron Young, who graduated in May after winning five times at Wake Forest. Young has remained an amateur in hopes of making the Walker Cup team this fall.
The rest of the 312-player field will be filled through qualifying over the next few weeks.
The stroke-play portion of the tournament will be on Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 4 on Aug. 12-13. The low 64 golfers will compete in the match-play portion from Aug. 14-17.
The 36-hole championship match is Aug. 17 with 18 holes at No. 4 and the final 18 on No. 2. It’s the first time the championship match will be on two different courses.
Around the green
Lucy Li, one of the big names at the Wyndham Cup last week, hasn’t decided if she will attend college to play golf. Li, 16, is home schooled and has already graduated from high school. She is likely leaning toward what Michelle Wie did when it comes to deciding between college golf or turning pro. Wie went to Stanford but turned pro so she didn’t play college golf. “I do want to go to college, but I’m not sure if I want to play college golf yet,” said Li, who played in the U.S. Women’s Open as an 11 year old in 2014 at Pinehurst No. 2. ...
Local Harris Teeter grocery stores are selling tickets to the Wyndham Championship with two-for-one offers. The 80th Wyndham Championship will be the first week of August at Sedgefield Country Club. For more information on tickets go to www.wyndhamchampionship.com. ...
Emily Hawkins of Lexington, a rising sophomore at Campbell, qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur by shooting 71 at Bermuda Run C.C. last week. Hawkins was one of five golfers who qualified on July 2. The U.S. Women’s Amateur will be held at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Mississippi from Aug. 5-11. ...
Preston Howe of Winston-Salem made it to the match-play portion of the 23rd N.C. Junior Boys 13 and Under Championship held at the Asheboro City Course. Howe, however, lost to Will Spicer of Kings Mountain 1 up as Spicer made a 20-foot putt on the final hole to win the match….
Will Zalatoris has a place to play for the rest of the season. With a third-place finish on Sunday in the LECOM Health Challenge in Findley Lake, New York on the Korn Ferry Tour he has earned enough money this season to have full playing privileges for the rest of the season. The Korn Ferry Tour, which is formerly the Web.com Tour, is the developmental tour for the PGA Tour. Zalatoris, who is in his second year as a professional, is a former Wake Forest star who turned pro in December of 2017....
One of the big hits of the Wyndham Championship is the junior clinic that is put on with help from the First Tee of the Triad. The clinic will be held July 30 at Grandover Resort from 4 to 5:30 p.m. The clinic is free but there are limited spots. To sign up for the clinic or find out more information on The First Tee of the Triad, go to https://www.thefirstteetriad.org/