Univ. of Georgia golfers continue success in '13-'14


Thus far on the PGA Tour, the 2013-14 season has been the year of the Bulldog.

Success for former University of Georgia golfers is nothing new - just ask Masters champ Bubba Watson about his years in Athens. During the Tour's inaugural wraparound season, though, players with ties to the UGA program have, as a group, gotten off to a remarkably hot start.

The season began at the Frys.com Open, where 2009 graduate Brian Harman tied for sixth. A resident of St. Simons Island, Harman also thrived amid friendly confines at the McGladrey Classic in November, where he tied for 10th.

It was at Sea Island that the UGA alumni base notched its first victory of the season, as Chris Kirk (class of 2007) won by a shot. Kirk's triumph was followed the next week by Harris English, who left Athens in 2011 and stormed to a four-shot victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.

When the calendar flipped to 2014, the momentum for Bulldog Nation picked up right where it left off. After holding the 54-hole lead, Kirk was a runner-up last week at the Sony Open, where English also finished solo fourth. This week, Kirk's former roomate in Athens, Brendon Todd, finds himself in second place at the Humana Challenge, two shots off the pace and in position for his fourth top-20 finish in six starts this season.

The group's success, however, doesn't end there: 2011 graduate Hudson Swafford tied for eighth last week in Hawaii and fired a 7-under 65 Thursday in Palm Springs. Kevin Kisner (class of 2006) opened with a 65 en route to a tie for 20th at the McGladrey Classic and started this week with a 6-under 66 on the Nicklaus Private course.

Even the 36-hole leader in California has ties to the UGA program. While Patrick Reed notably won a pair of NCAA titles at Augusta State, he began his collegiate career at Georgia before transferring. A winner last year at the Wyndham Championship, Reed will need to fend off multiple Bulldogs to capture a second victory, including Todd and English (currently T-8).

So why the sudden success for so many Georgia alumni?

"I think we play one of the toughest schedules in the country, so we're always competing on good, tough golf courses like the PGA Tour plays," Todd explained after shooting a career-low 63 Friday. "There's definitely a fraternity. We all get along really well ... As we've graduated and traveled the Tour, we're really gelling."