Southern Am to Include Internationals

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Sponsors of the 100-year-old Southern Amateur Golf Championship have taken several moves aimed at bolstering the profile and prestige of the storied annual tournament.
 
The directors of the Southern Golf Association have opened the door to national and international amateurs, effective with the approaching 2003 tournament at the fabled Homestead in Virginia. The 97th championship, set for July 16-19, will be the first Southern Am in which the field is not limited to residents and students in the 14-state southern region.
 
One of the leading amateur events in the country, the Southern Amateur rotates among some of the south's most prestigious and challenging clubs. The 100-year anniversary championship was contested last summer at Atlanta's famed East Lake Club, the golf training ground for legendary Bobby Jones, who won the Southern Am three times. Other notable past winners include major champions Gay Brewer, Billy Joe Patton, Lanny Wadkins, Ben Crenshaw, Bob Tway, Hubert Green, Mark Brooks and Justin Leonard.
 
Extending the eligibility worldwide should only enhance what has annually been one of the nation's best amateur fields for decades. Exempt invitations are being reduced to 60, while the remaining berths in the 156-player field are earned through local qualifying events. Entrants must have an established USGA handicap index of 3.4 or less.
 
The worldwide eligibility change applies also to the SGA's annual Southern Junior Amateur Championship, which will be played June 10-12 at Old Waverly Golf Club near West Point, Mississippi.
 
Said SGA Executive Secretary Buford McCarty: 'This has been in the works for several years in that we felt we want the championship to be less restricted. So now virtually anyone has the opportunity to play in the Southern Amateur. I feel sure the quality of the field this year will reflect those changes.'
 
Additionally, the SGA has Larry Guest to handle pubicity duties The lead sports columnist for the Orlando Sentinel for 28 years until he recent retirement, Guest authored five books, including a bio of Arnold Palmer and a recent bestseller profiling the late Payne Stewart. He has been published in all of the leading national golf magazines and has won numerous awards for his golf stories and columns.The directors of the Southern Golf Association have opened the door to national and international amateurs, effective with the approaching 2003 tournament at the fabled Homestead in Virginia. The 97th championship, set for July 16-19, will be the first Southern Am in which the field is not limited to residents and students in the 14-state southern region.
 
One of the leading amateur events in the country, the Southern Amateur rotates among some of the south's most prestigious and challenging clubs. The 100-year anniversary championship was contested last summer at Atlanta's famed East Lake Club, the golf training ground for legendary Bobby Jones, who won the Southern Am three times. Other notable past winners include major champions Gay Brewer, Billy Joe Patton, Lanny Wadkins, Ben Crenshaw, Bob Tway, Hubert Green, Mark Brooks and Justin Leonard,
 
Extending the eligibility worldwide should only enhance what has annually been one of the nation's best amateur fields for decades. Exempt invitations are being reduced to 60, while the remaining berths in the 156-player field are earned through local qualifying events. Entrants must have an established USGA handicap index of 3.4 or less.
 
The worldwide eligibility change applies also to the SGA's annual Southern Junior Amateur Championship, which will be played June 10-12 at Old Waverly Golf Club near West Point, Miss.

Said SGA Executive Secretary Buford McCarty: 'This has been in the works for several years in that we felt we want the championship to be less restricted. So now virtually anyone has the opportunity to play in the Southern Amateur. I feel sure the quality of the field this year will reflect those changes.'
 
Additionally, the SGA has hired Larry Guest as media liason. The lead sports columnist for the Orlando Sentinel for 28 years until he recent retirement, Guest authored five books, including a biography of Arnold Palmer and a recent bestseller profiling the late Payne Stewart.