First round of Club Car Championship tees off Thursday

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 10:10 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The gates are open at the Landings, fans are on the grounds and professional golf has returned to Savannah with the first round of the Club Car Championship.

The players were certainly anxious to get back here. This is probably the strongest field of the season on the Korn Ferry Tour.

And 47 players who have won Korn Ferry events are here, and there are also 11 players who have won PGA Tour events competing at the Landings.

But one of the most interesting guys here was the last one into the field. 16-year old Anthony Purcea earned a spot in the Club Car Championship through a Monday qualifying tournament in Statesboro.

He’s from Buford, Georgia, is home schooled and doesn’t have a high school season to play right now. So, he was looking for tournaments and decided to take a shot at the qualifier. Then he shot 66 and won a five-man playoff that extended into Tuesday morning to claim the last spot left in the Club Car field.

And now he gets the chance to play in his first professional event this week.

“I talked to my parents and was like, do you want to do this and they said, yeah let’s do it. So, went down to Statesboro and played a practice round and played Monday, played a good round of golf and got into a playoff. And praise God, I got on top. I’m just going to have a good time. I have a buddy of mine back at home, he’s on the Korn Ferry Tour, he said just soak it in, have a good time and also play well. What I’m looking forward to coming after this event is how am I going to play the game afterward. I figure it’s going to be a lot different, coming to a pro event and seeing how my work ethic is and just to make it better and pretty soon be here,” Purcea said.

That is definitely the goal for Anthony – to play professionally.

But he was not the only young player at the Deer Creek course Wednesday.

Three local junior golfers were invited by the tournament to play in the Wednesday pro-am. Finn Nixon, Christopher Templeton and Thomas Claiborne got to play with two Korn Ferry pros and experience golf inside the ropes at a pro tournament – a memorable day for both the young amateurs and their professional playing partners.

“Very exciting. It’s a great opportunity to be able to play out here in these course conditions and with the pros. It’s amazing. It was really fun. I was really excited that I got invited,” said Thomas Claiborne, Christopher Templeton, and Finn Nixon, Junior Golfers invited to play in Wednesday pro-am.

“It’s fun to be able to give them a tip here and there, see if they can pick up on some things. It’s great to give the kids a spot in the pro-am and get them out here to play with the pros. It’s pretty cool,” said Patrick Cover, Korn Ferry Tour professional.

It was especially cool for one of the juniors. Finn Nixon made a hole-in-one on Deer Creek’s par-3 8th hole Wednesday, his first ace and it came in a professional event, in tournament conditions, playing alongside a pro.

Finn was almost as excited as his dad who is WTOC advertising sales manager, Matt Nixon.