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Tony Romo, 4 past champions return to Charleston for Azalea Invitational golf tournament

Four past champions, 18 current state champions and a former NFL quarterback highlight the approximately 90-player field for the 2022 Azalea Invitational Golf Tournament.

Tony Romo, former Dallas Cowboys star and current NFL analyst for CBS, returns to the Country Club of Charleston to compete in a strong field that includes a dozen golfers who last year made it to the quarterfinals of a U.S. Golf Association Championship (Junior, Men's Amateur or Men's Mid-Amateur). 

The tournament is set for March 24-27.

Former Azalea champions who have committed to play are Todd White (2015), Austin Langdale (2013), John Engler (1997) and John Finnin (1983). Abel Gallegos of Argentina will not return to defend his 2021 Azalea title.

Tournament chairman Bert Atkinson said he judges the number of players who made it into USGA quarterfinals in 2021 as a testament to the strength of the field.

"To me, that's the acid test. You qualify to get into the tournament, and then you qualify again and you win three matches to get to the quarterfinals. A player has played pretty well to get that far," Atkinson said.

One of the players who won on multiple levels in 2021 is Country Club of Charleston member Christian Sease, who played his high school golf at Wando and then played collegiately at Winthrop. Sease was the S.C. Golf Association's player of the year for 2021 after winning the S.C. Mid-Amateur and making it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Mid-Amateur.

Mark Costanza of Morristown, N.J., who finished as the runner-up in the 2021 U.S. Mid-Amateur, also will be participating this year as will four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur winner Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh.

Reigning S.C. Amateur champion Harry Reynolds of Greenville and 2020 winner Jonathan Griz of Hilton Head both are in the Azalea field, along with Nicholas Gross of Downingtown, Pa., who won the 2021 Beth Daniel Junior Azalea by nine shots.

Atkinson said changes that have been made on the Seth Raynor-designed course since 2021 could affect scoring. A greenside bunker on the fourth hole has been enlarged significantly; bunkers now guard almost the entire side of the 11th hole; a large mound blocks a view of the green from the fairway on No. 10; and there has been a reconfiguration of the 13th hole.

Starting times for the first three rounds of the tournament will run from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. off the first tee. The field will be cut to the low 60 and ties for the final round with players starting on both nines between 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Coming up

• March 16: Trident Medical Center Lowcountry Transitions golf tournament to benefit Mental Health Heroes, Dunes West Golf & River Club, $525 per four-player team, visit mhheroes.com/golf.

Aces

Sara Murphy, Feb. 21, Charleston Municipal Golf Course, No. 14, 92 yards, 6 utility. Witness: DeLia Smith.

Walton Rogers, Feb. 21, Legend Oaks Golf Club, No. 11, 205 yards, 5-iron. Witnesses: Brooks Swanson, Robert Wylie, Michael Wolfert.

Ray Dickinson, Feb. 22, Dunes West Golf & River Club, No. 6, 158 yards, 6-iron. Witnesses: Mark Estebo, Forest Ficklin.

Mike Randle, Feb. 22, Dunes West Golf & River Club, No. 6, 149 yards, 8-iron. Witnesses: Jason Wing, Kyle Lonneman, Greg Perry.

Alan Greer, Feb. 26, Crowfield Golf Club, No. 16, 171 yards, 6-iron. Witnesses: Mike Devlin, David Jackson, Denis Stroble.

Alan Linnemann, March 1, Charleston Municipal Golf Course, No. 11, 145 yards, 8-iron. Witnesses: Randy Jackson, Ted Mosay, Zach Mosay.

Ron Moffitt, March 1, Crooked Oaks-Seabrook Island Club, No. 13, 118 yards, 9-iron. Witnesses: Jenn Connell, Mitch Pulwer, Michael Garvey.

David Carter, March 3, Shadowmoss Golf Club, No. 13, 111 yards, 9-iron. Witness: Mike DeLoy.

Rick Bartemeyer, March 4, Rivertowne Country Club, No. 8, 110 yards, 7-iron. Witnesses: George King, Brian McGurk, Greg Carlson.

Deon Knecht, March 5, Coosaw Creek Country Club, No. 3, 121 yards, 9-iron. Witnesses: R.J. Keur, Gregg Steffen.

Tammy Tran, March 6, Plantation Course at Edisto, No. 6, 92 yards, 6-hybrid. Witnesses: T.Minh Tran, David Smith.

 A hole-in-one should be reported by the golf course. Please email aces to braswellsports@hotmail.com and to sportsdesk@postandcourier.com.