Golf

After short break, Wyatt gets back to work with Players Amateur

Alabama star is one of the favorites at this week's tournament

mmccombs@islandpacket.comJuly 11, 2013 

Players Amateur contestant and University of Alabama golfer Bobby Wyatt poses at Berkeley Hall in Bluffton in 2012. Wyatt is back to play in 2013 after finishing as runner-up last year.

JAY KARR — Jay Karr -- Staff photo

When you boast a field of more than 80 of the best amateur golfers in the world, it's hard to imagine there's really a favorite. But if there is one for the 2013 Players Amateur, which gets underway with 36 holes Thursday at the Berkeley Hall Club, almost certainly it would have to be Bobby Wyatt.

The 20-year-old University of Alabama star -- who famously shot a 57 at the 2010 Alabama Boys State Junior Championship -- was the runner-up, by a stroke, to Australian Daniel Nisbet in last year's rain-shortened event.

In 2012, Wyatt won the Sunnehanna Amateur, was runner-up in the Southern Amateur and Players Amateur and finished in the top-five of the Dogwood Invitational and the Northeast Amateur. He also made it to the round of 16 of the U.S. Amateur.

Those results earned him the Alabama Golf Association's Player of the Year award for the second straight year.

As a junior, he helped lead the Crimson Tide to their first NCAA men's golf championship this spring, earning All-SEC honors for the third straight year and first-team All-American honors.

Then, in early June, he went 3-0-1 to help lead the Americans to a lopsided win over Europe in the Palmer Cup.

After all of that, Wyatt deserved a break.

"I've only played one other event since the Palmer Cup," Wyatt said Wednesday after the Contestant-Am. "I took a few weeks off and now I'm ready to get back in the swing of things."

Given his performance last year at Berkeley Hall, it's no surprise that Wyatt said his strategy hasn't changed from last year.

"I had a few shots last year that didn't go the way I intended. Hopefully I can change that this year," Wyatt said. "Last year, my emphasis was on hitting fairways because of the tough rough. That's still important, but this year, I think the key is putting. But if you play to position here, you've got a good shot at birdies."

Wyatt, who will be joined in Bluffton by his mother and girlfriend, arrived Tuesday and got in nine practice holes before he played in Wednesday's Contestant-Am. He said those 27 holes gave him a good feel for the course, and if he -- or any other golfer for that matter -- struggles, Wyatt said it wouldn't be because of the course conditions.

In fact, Wyatt claimed to speak for every golfer in the field when he said the Berkeley Hall Club's South Course is in the best condition he's ever seen a course, especially around the greens.

"The greens are just in awesome shape," Wyatt said. "The ball is rolling perfectly, and you can make a lot of putts. It's awesome for a golfer to know it's in your control and not left up to conditions. It's exciting to play on a golf course in this shape."

Wyatt said the exemption to play in the 2014 RBC Heritage that comes with a Players Amateur victory would be "exciting." But even if he earns a Players Amateur victory, he won't be ready to close the door on his amateur career and step up to the next level.

"No. I'm definitely staying through my senior year," Wyatt said. "My plan is to turn pro next June, right after next year's national championship."

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