The PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship, being played this week at Grand National Golf Club in Opelika, one of the courses on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, may be just the right tournament at just the right time for Mobile’s Zack Sucher.
The former UAB All-America player is looking to get his pro career going stronger and the opportunity to play in his home state, not to mention on a course with which he is familiar, assists his cause.
“It hasn’t been a great year for me so far, so it’s kind of exciting to play a golf course you know,” he said prior to the tournament, which starts Thursday. “My golf game hasn’t been where I would like it to be, but it’s close. The last two months my game has been pretty good but my scores aren’t showing it. I feel like I’m close … I feel like I’m about to start playing really good golf.
“My confidence is back up and I’m hoping it shows pretty soon … Other than this tournament, every course (on the PGA Tour) has been a first for me. Having played this course before, and having family and friends out to watch, that’s going to be a big help.’’
The Barbasol Championship field will feature several golfers with ties to the state of Alabama, and a good number with ties to the Mobile area. Alabama’s Robby Shelton received a sponsor’s exemption and will be in the field. Former South Alabama standout Heath Slocum is also in the field, along with Milton’s Joe Durant, who played his college golf at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, and Milton’s Boo Weekley, a fan favorite.
The list also includes Mobile’s Glen Day, a long-time member of the PGA Tour, who won the 1999 MCI Classic. He also has an international victory to his credit with the 1990 Benson & Hedges Malaysian Open crown. He will be eligible to participate on the Champions Tour next season.
UMS-Wright and Alabama standout Bobby Wyatt participated in Monday’s qualifying tournament but did not earn a spot in the field.
Others with ties to the state who are set to play in the event, which takes place opposite the British Open this week, include Michael Thompson, Will Wilcox, Ben Schlottman, Josh Broadaway, Patton Kizzire, Blayne Barber, Smylie Kaufman, Steve Lowery, Brett Wetterich and Tomasz Anderson.
Gates open at Grand National at 6:30 a.m. Thursday through Sunday. The Golf Channel will broadcast live from the Opelika tournament site each day from 3-6 p.m.
“I don’t think it makes it too much of a different field than other tournaments, but for us (those with Alabama ties), it’s the kind of grass you grew up playing on and there’s just a comfort zone because of that,’’ Sucher said. “Plus, having friends around is always nice.
“It will be interesting to see how the people in the state respond. I don’t know what it will be like. Every event I have played this year has been a repeat event (site that has had a tournament for a few years). It will be exciting to see how it does as a first-year event. It should be a lot of fun. I’ll have a lot of friends coming in from Birmingham and Mobile, so it should be a fun week.’’