University of Georgia golfers Russell Henley and Harris English dind themselves in an enviable position this week. Based on their season long performance, and the Southeastern Conference Championship victory by Henley two weeks ago at Sea Island (GA), the two earned sponsor exemptions into this week's Stadion Athens Classic at UGA on the Nationwide Tour. There was only one glitch. The event is coinciding with finals week at UGA, forcing the two golfers to balance their practice and playing schedules with their exam schedules. In fact, the biggest risk is when their opening round tee times would be set.
"They received no special considerations for their Thursday tee times," said Joe Chemycz of the PGA Tour. "It is all generated by computer and takes into account factors such as status, earnings, etc. Players on a sponsors exemption are usually the last tee times assigned, no matter who they are. If Tiger Woods came here on a sponsor's exemption, he would be among the last tee times assigned and it would not be a prime spot."
This posed a dilemma for the two players. English had an exam scheduled for Thursday morning, and Henley had an in-class presentation scheduled.
Luckily for the two, the draw turned out in their favor, as they drew late tee times in the afternoon. In the case of English, the final exam may have been the best preparation. He went out and shot a 3 under par 68 to tie for 10th place after the first round. Newly crowned SEC Golfer of the Year Henley was not as fortunate as he shot a 2 over par 73 and is danger of missing the cut.
No matter how they finish, however, they have the support of their teammates, families, and coach, and fans. As Henley was working on the putting green today, SEC Golf Coach of the Year Chris Haack, stood behind him, softly talking and reinforcing what Henley experienced as a player in the first round. It was one of those usually unseen and unheard moments of a coach/player relationship that show the strength of the Georgia golf program.