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Haas Family Invitational a bridge to the Wyndham Championship

Haas Family Invitational a bridge to the Wyndham Championship

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GREENSBORO — The American Junior Golf Association’s tournament at Sedgefield Country Club may have changed its name to the Haas Family Invitational, but its importance remains the same.

The tournament, in its 15th year, is guided by the Wyndham Championship, the PGA Tour’s stop that comes to Sedgefield in August.

While the Haas Family Invitational will showcase the best junior golfers in the world this week, it’s also a good recruiting tool for Mark Brazil, the tournament director of the Wyndham.

“It is one of the best recruiting tools that we have,” Brazil said. “Most of these kids that will be here this week will someday be on the PGA Tour, and if we can make an impression on them now, that bodes well for us in the future.”

This week’s tournament has a strong field once again, highlighted by three of the top six players from the class of 2016. For the class of 2017, there are six of the top 10 players committed, which includes Cary’s Parker Gilliam, a Wake Forest commit.

Andrew Greenfield of the AJGA, the tournament director of the Haas Family Invitational and the vice president of tournament operations, says one of the players to keep an eye on is 14-year-old Karl Vilips, who is originally from Australia but lives in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

“He’s in the class of 2020, but he’s a good player, and at the age of 14 there are big things expected of him,” Greenfield said.

As the AJGA stop relates to the Wyndham Championship, there’s no better proof that playing host to an AJGA is a good idea. Brazil said that of the 156 golfers who competed in last August’s Wyndham Championship, 63 of them played in the AJGA tournament here.

“That’s an important stat because as we move forward that’s going to increase,” Brazil said.

The list of AJGA tournament participants in Greensboro who now play on the PGA Tour is impressive: Webb Simpson, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Doanel Berger, Ryo Ishikawa and Billy Horschel.

The tournament, renamed the Haas Family Invitational after the Haas family of Jay, Bill and Jerry, is one of the top AJGA tournaments on the schedule.

“When we went to Bobby Long (the board chairman of the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation board that runs the Wyndham Championship) with the idea of honoring the Haas family, he said it was a no-brainer,” Brazil said. “And the Haas family has been so important to the game of golf and the Wyndham Championship through the years.”

The Haas family is also giving back to the tournament by making appearances.

Bill was at Sedgefield on Sunday meeting golfers and their parents, and Jay was scheduled to be at the tournament today.

The 72-hole tournament starts Tuesday and ends on Friday, and admission is free and open to the public. Brazil said seeing the future stars of the PGA Tour is what he’s excited about the most.

“They are young now, but in a blink of an eye they’ll be in college and then on to the PGA Tour or Tour or the European Tour,” Brazil said. “We’re excited about this year’s field and what this tournament does to help in promoting golf and the Wyndham Championship.”

Pike ties for third in Super Seniors

Arlis Pike of Kernersville was trying to win his fourth straight Carolinas Super Senior tournament last week at River Landing.

Pike wound up tied for third as Raymond Davis of Apex shot 68-68 to win the tournament. Ernie Newton of Winston-Salem shot 70-69 to finish three strokes behind Davis.

Pike opened with a 69 but shot 72 for the second round to tie Terry Rathman of Gastonia and Evan Long of Charlotte.

Logan Jackson of Winston-Salem tied for eighth with rounds of 74-69.

Around the green

Patrick Stephenson of Four Oaks shot 67-74 to win the N.C. Junior Open at Cutter Creek Golf Course in Snow Hill. Jake Rutter of Winston-Salem shot 71-73 to finish three shots back and Matthew Guo (75-73) of Clemmons tied for seventh.

In the 13-14 age group Whit Edwards of Greensboro shot 73-75 and was the top finisher beating Zach Brown (75-78) of Bermuda Run by five shots with Blake Brantley of Winston-Salem finishing third. ...

Fans who attend U.S. Open this week can turn to an enhanced mobile app to follow the action closer at Oakmont Country Club. The app was released last week and will have technical support from IBM. The app features an interactive map as well as the capability to follow a favorite player on the course. ...

Applications for the 65th Forsyth Junior Golf Tournament are available at local golf courses and at the city’s recreation department. Applications can also be downloaded For more information, call Dick Butler at the recreation department at 336-734-1212. ...

Matthew McDonagh, a junior at Randolph-Macon, was voted All-State second team in the state of Virginia by the Virginia Sports Information Directors. McDonagh, who was also second-team all-conference, was sixth in the ODAC in stroke average at 75.6 over 22 rounds. He won a tournament and finished in the top 10 in five tournaments this past season. ...

Tiger Woods still hasn’t played in a PGA Tour tournament since finishing 10th at last year’s Wyndham Championship. It was the first time Woods played in Greensboro, and by all accounts, he loved the atmosphere and the course. Brazil, the tournament director, would love to have Woods back but he’s still recovering from back surgery. “I will keep in touch with his agent (Mark Steinberg) this summer, and we’ll see,” Brazil said. “I mean, why wouldn’t we want him back here? The main thing is he needs to get healthy first.”

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