Tuesday, August 16, 2016

77th Wyndham Championship and McConnell Golf a Dream Pairing

(GREENSBORO, NC) — When defending Wyndham Championship winner Davis Love III — currently recovering from season-ending hip surgery — was unable to make an appearance at the annual media day a few weeks ago, tournament director Mark Brazil knew where to turn for a fill-in.

Local favorite William McGirt is a big fan of Sedgefield Country Club and the Wyndham Championship — and a McConnell Golf member, as well. Despite a top-10 finish at the PGA Championship two days prior and his first PGA TOUR win at The Memorial in June, McGirt didn’t hesitate in accepting Brazil’s offer.

“I tell guys all the time that we have four majors with the Masters, U.S. Open, the (British) Open, the PGA,” McGirt told reporters at media day. “But I have three additional majors — (Sedgefield), Quail Hollow and Hilton Head. Being from North Carolina and living in South Carolina, those three tournaments are very important to me.”

McConnell Golf owns Sedgefield Country Club along with nine other private golf clubs around the Carolinas and now storied Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Tenn. When McConnell Golf purchased Sedgefield in 2011, owner John McConnell poured massive funds into the property for significant upgrades to the club’s renowned Donald Ross design. Today, Sedgefield Country Club is a jewel in the McConnell Golf lineup, a fitting home for North Carolina’s oldest PGA TOUR event.

McGirt captured the prestigious Cardinal Amateur in 2003 on Sedgefield’s sister Pete Dye Course. He is also a member at McConnell Golf’s Musgrove Mill Golf Club in Clinton, S.C., although McGirt said recent successes both on and off the golf course have kept him from visiting Musgrove Mill as much as he normally does.

McGirt has a 3-year-old son and an 8-month-old daughter. “When I’m not traveling and playing these days, I spend all my free time playing with my kids, hanging out at the pool,” he said. “I don’t spend nearly as much time practicing (at Musgrove Mill) as I used to.”

Along with McGirt’s fondness for Musgrove Mill, Sedgefield’s Donald Ross Course and Sedgefield’s Pete Dye Course, which he calls “one of (the legendary architect’s) best,” he added that he has been impressed with everything the Raleigh-based company has done at all their properties.

“I think what McConnell Golf has done for all of the clubs that they’ve bought is phenomenal,” McGirt said. “They’ve improved the clubs and improved the golf courses, yet kept it affordable for the members. I think they really turned all the clubs around, and I think all the members are really happy. And these clubs are the best in the Carolinas.”

This year’s 77th annual Wyndham Championship highlights a run of 11 professional, collegiate, amateur or elite junior level events contested in 2016 on highly regarded courses owned by Raleigh-based McConnell Golf.

- In spring events contested over McConnell Golf courses, Treyburn Country Club in Durham welcomed today’s scholastic stars at the 10th North Carolina High School Invitational, won by Myers Park of Charlotte. Meanwhile, at Brook Valley Country Club in Greenville, N.C., host team East Carolina won its own Pirate Intercollegiate by 23 shots.

- Some of the recent high school invitational participants donned their new school colors when Old North State Club in New London hosted the ACC Men’s Golf Championship for the 15th straight year. Clemson won its 10th conference championship and first since 2004. At the 2016 ACC Women’s Golf Championship at Greensboro’s Sedgefield Country Club Ross, Virginia defended its title after becoming the first-ever champion last year from outside the state of North Carolina.

- The Sedgefield Ross Course also hosted the 39th Carolinas Club Pro-Am Championship as McConnell properties placed three teams in the Top 10, including runner-ups Ryan Fuller and Rob Beasley (Sedgefield Ross). In May, The Reserve Golf Club in Pawleys Island, S.C., welcomed the 90th Carolinas Women’s Amateur, won by Ashley Sloup.

- In May at Raleigh’s TPC Wakefield, former University of Alabama golfer Trey Mullinax won the 2016 Rex Hospital Open with a final score of 14-under. Mullinax’s come-from-behind victory is his first win on the Web.com tour and his third top-10 finish.  He currently sits seventh on the money list.

- Greensboro took center stage for McConnell Golf this summer and fall. On June 13-17, 84 of the world’s best junior boys competed in the AJGA Haas Family Invitational, contested for the ninth time at Sedgefield CC’s Ross Course. This year, Eugene Hong of Sanford, Fla., won by four strokes.

- Meanwhile in late July, The Sedgefield Dye Course played host to the prestigious Cardinal Amateur. Georgia Tech incoming freshman Andy Ogletree captured this year’s event with a three-day total of 202 (-8). In October, Sedgefield Dye will play host to Guilford College’s O’Briant-Jensen Memorial tournament.

- As for historic tournament triumphs, Byron Nelson won the 1945 Knoxville Open at one of McConnell Golf’s most recent additions, storied Holston Hills Country Club, as part of his PGA Tour record 19 wins that season.  However, Nelson’s title at the highly regarded Donald Ross-designed golf course and fixture in Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses was not part of his 11 straight victories run.

- Looking ahead to 2017, Providence Country Club will host the 37th Carolinas Mid-Amateur Championship.

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