My pal, neighbor, and the pride of Winterville, former UGA great and now professional golfer Ryan Hybl, just had himself one pretty amazing weekend at the Athens Regional Foundation Classic. The tournament, a stop on the PGA's Nationwide Tour, was held over at Jennings Mill Country Club in Bogart and Ryan, who's currently splitting his time between the Hooters and Tarheel tours, was granted an exemption to be one of seven former UGA players in the field.
On Friday, playing in the final group, Ryan was flirting with the "cut line" (after two rounds, the field is cut to the top sixty scorers...plus ties) all the way down the back nine. On his eighteenth hole...as the absolute last guy left out on the course playing...he made a clutch birdie to make the weekend cut. Then, yesterday...in the final round, he went out and shot his third consecutive below-par round to finish in a tie for twenty-fifth overall. Not too shabby for a guy making his Nationwide Tour debut. In fact, one of the players Ryan finished tied with was Aussie Paul Gow, the winner of the inaugural ARFC two years ago.
Here's the best part: The Top-25 finish means "Goodbye, Hooters Tour" (at least for now)...he's now automatically entered in the next Nationwide event, the Henrico County Open in Richmond, Virginia. When I stopped by the Hybls' last night for a quick "congratulations," both Ryan and his wife Rebecca were running around like crazy...trying to balance taking in everyone's best wishes with their new, last-minute travel plans for a week in Richmond. "Dude...there are worse problems to have in this world," I reminded him.
I had the honor and fun of following Ryan around Jennings Mill for his opening and closing rounds. Lauren even tagged along on Sunday. We got to meet Ryan's parents and other Team Hybl supporters from around the country. It was a pure blast and I've got no doubt that one day we'll be following him around Sugarloaf or East Lake as a member of the PGA Tour.