ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. (Dec. 15, 2020) – The Inaugural Willow Cup was held Monday and Tuesday at Willow Point Golf & Country Club. The Willow Cup is a collegiate and amateur event sponsored by the Alabama–NW Florida Golf Foundation. A total of 69 players gathered on Lake Martin to commence this one-of-a-kind event. The tournament was fully funded by the Foundation thanks to various donations totaling over $14,000, making entry fees and other amenities completely free to all players. The field was made up of a diverse group ranging from junior-, mid- and senior-amateurs. Additionally, there were nineteen colleges and universities from across the southeast represented in the field.
The tournament began at 9:00 a.m. Monday morning with players starting on holes one and ten. Players were welcomed to Willow Point with cold temperatures and blustery conditions. Jones Free of Selma, Ala. got off to a solid start shooting even par on the front nine before he turned around and shot four-under on the back nine – including an eagle on the par four seventeenth. Dylan Moncus (Samford University) and William Walker (University of Alabama, Birmingham) both finished their first rounds with a three-under par, 69. Rounding out the top three were Price Brown (University of Alabama, Birmingham), Davis Shore (University of Alabama), Carson Bacha (Auburn University), Andrew Sullivan (Samford University) and Austin Cody (Oxford, Miss.) who all finished at two-under par.
After Round One, Willow Point Golf & Country Club hosted a dinner banquet for all players which included a speaker panel featuring Lee Williams (former PGA Tour player, and two-time member of the Walker Cup), Trey Mullinax (2020 Korn Ferry Tour Winner) and Stephen Bunn (PGA Tour Chaplain). The trio was able to share their experiences ranging from playing the game to being around other successful players. It was a special night shared by all players as they continue to develop their careers in amateur golf and eventual professional careers.
The Final Round was met with more cold temperatures and calmer winds – the course still playing long given the wet conditions. Starting times again began at 9:00 a.m. off of holes one and ten. Free started his day slowly making only one birdie and three bogeys on his front nine, turning in a two-over 38. He was never able to get anything going, making just one bogey on the back nine to finish his tournament with a three-over 75 and a tie for ninth place. Meanwhile, Moncus made an eagle on hole six and turned in one-under par. He made three birdies on holes ten, eleven and thirteen to remain tied for the lead with Walker going into the final few holes. Walker went on a tear, making five birdies on his front nine and made the turn at four-under for the day. He held steady on the back-nine making par on the remainder of his holes. Moncus was tripped up with bogies on sixteen and seventeen and lost the lead to Walker as he coasted to the victory. Khavish Varman Varadan (University of Alabama, Birmingham) showed some game making four birdies and no bogies in his final round to slip into a tie for second with Moncus. Coggin, Brown and Shore all filed in to round out the top five.
The Low-Amateur honors went to Jones Free (Low Junior-Amateur) at one-under 143, Austin Cody (Low Mid-Amateur) also at one-under 143 and Billy Mitchell (Low Senior-Amateur) with a one-over 145.
The Alabama–NW Florida Golf Foundation would like to thank Matt Sheppard, PGA and Eric Eshleman, PGA for putting together this event. In a time where there was not much of a golf season for many collegiate and amateur players the Willow Cup was a beacon symbolizing a bright spot at the end of 2020, and a tradition that can persist for years to come.
The Foundation would also like to thank its numerous sponsors and donors for their belief in the mission behind this event, and for sharing a vision in which golf is played and celebrated by people from all backgrounds and abilities.
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ABOUT THE WILLOW CUP
The purpose of the Willow Cup is to give a recognized playing opportunity to a diverse network of players, inspire a new generation of golfers and create awareness and support for the Foundation. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many collegiate and high school golf seasons to be cut short – stripping these athletes of an opportunity to play the game they love. This event can symbolize a new opportunity to capitalize on our mission of expanding the game of golf within our Section by inspiring the next generation of players.