Bert Atkinson knew that the field for the Azalea Invitational each year boasted some of the country's best amateur golfers, but it really hit him just how good the players are when he took the tournament reigns this year from longtime tournament chairman David Humphreys.
"When I started combing through the players and their resumes this year, they're really outstanding," said Atkinson, a South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame member.
The tournament runs Thursday through Sunday at the Country Club of Charleston. Tee times start at 7:30 a.m. Thursday through Friday with the field cut to the low 60 and ties for Sunday's final round.
Georgia Tech golfer Chris Petefish, who won last year's event, is not among the 108 golfers scheduled to play, but the trio of golfers who finished a stroke behind him will return — junior stars Joseph Pagdin of Orlando and Cole Hammer of Houston and 2015 Azalea winner Todd White of Spartanburg. Another top name is 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Scott Harvey of Kernersville, N.C., who finished two strokes behind Petefish in the 2017 Azalea.
The marquee name in the field is reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur winner Matt Parziale, a firefighter from Brockton, Mass., who will be tuning up for an even bigger event a couple of weeks away — the Masters.
"The Golf Channel has already been in touch with us. They're sending a production crew and want to film him during a practice round for a player profile to be aired during the Masters," Atkinson said.
The Azalea field includes some juniors and seniors but is mostly mid-amateurs, golfers 25 and older who have elected not to turn professional. The event falls in the middle of college golf's spring season so the college numbers aren't quite as strong.
In addition to Parziale and Harvey, the field also includes four-time Mid-Amateur winner Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh. Smith won the 2009 Mid-Amateur that was played at Kiawah Island Club's Cassique course.
Atkinson also noted that 11 current state amateur champions will be playing in this year's event, including Gregg Jones of Florence.
Palmetto Cup Matches
The South Carolina Golf Association's amateur team scored a 15-6 victory over the South Carolinas PGA professionals in the 38th annual Palmetto Cup Matches played at Camden Country Club. The final round of the event was canceled because of weather. The amateurs lead the overall competition 20-15 with one tie. The 1997 Palmetto Cup was canceled because of weather.
Charleston Golfweek Tour
John Ashmore won the Charleston Golfweek Tour event played at the Links at Stono Ferry with a score of 76. Stephan Jones won A Flight with a score of 79. Delano Jones won B Flight with an 81. Ozzy Osborne won C Flight with an 83. Gene Beamus won D Flight with an 89.
• March 23: Hallie Hill Animal Sanctuary Golf Tournament, Links at Stono Ferry, $100 per player, visit halliehill.com or call 843-889-3713.
• April 16: My Sisters House Golf Tournament, Coosaw Creek Country Club, register by March 27, $125 per player or $400 per team, email email@example.com or call 843-480-1905.
• April 20: Trident Health Golf Tournament benefiting American Heart Association, Crowfield Golf Club, contact Jim Parker at 843-452-5861 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• May 5: William Brian Moody Foundation Golf Tournament, Pine Forest Country Club, benefits the William Brian Moody '86 Memorial Scholarship at Clemson and the Roper Foundation Patient Assistance Fund, sign up by April 1, information email@example.com, Will Moody at 843-323-7729 or Ben Moody at 843-323-7730.
• May 10: Kiwanis Club of Moncks Corner Golf Tournament, Berkeley Country Club, $65 per player, $260 per team, contact Lynn Smith at 843-312-0621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• May 21: Ninth annual East Cooper Habitat for Humanity Golf Tees to House Keys tournament, Snee Farm Country Club, $150 per player or $500 per team, contact Christine at 843-881-2600 ext. 201.
Herman Johnson, Feb. 28, Legend Oaks Golf Club, No. 8, 100 yards, wedge. Witnesses: Ron Mapes, Jim Hamilton, Bill Hunter.
Andy Grooms, March 2, Charleston Municipal Golf Course, No. 8, 126 yards, 8-iron. Witnesses: Roger Burris, Bobby Anderson, Dave Beaudrot, David Washington.
Jeff Ward, March 3, Crooked Oaks-Seabrook Island Club, No. 9, 158 yards, 6-iron. Witnesses: Brad Reynolds, Mike Murphy, Eric Johnson.
Don Gudinas, March 5, Summerville Country Club, No. 4, 135 yards. Witnesses: Steve Lewis, Bob Hampe.
Mike Mazza, March 6, Charleston Municipal Golf Course, No. 4, 159 yards, 9-iron. Witnesses: Jerry Windham, Bob Mullen, Mitch Thompson.
Paul Kattawar, March 7, Charleston Municipal Golf Course, No. 14, 116 yards, pitching wedge. Witnesses: Gerry Watkins, Bobby Bowick, Bob Speziale.
Carl Ulm, March 7, Bulls Bay Golf Club, No. 14, 158 yards, 7-iron. Witnesses: Tanner Amerson, Sean Litton.
Don Moyer, March 9, RiverTowne Country Club, No. 17, 152 yards, 7-iron. Witnesses: Robin Moyer, John Pisarski.
Jeremy Hembree, March 10, Plantation Course at Edisto, No. 6, 129 yards, pitching wedge. Witnesses: Tom Farmer, Kirk Owen, Tom Galardi, Jackie Fordham, Mac McNulta.
Mick Boone, March 13, Crowfield Golf Club, No. 13, 98 yards, wedge. Witnesses: Don Wollenbecker, Ron Parsons, Rufus Mincey.