WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — In a tournament field of 156 players, few if any have turned more laps around the Old White TPC course than Bridgeport native Mason Williams. The Georgia Southern University golfer has competed annually in the West Virginia Amateur tournament at the Greenbrier. His victory in that event last month earned Williams an exemption into the field.
“It helps that I know the golf course pretty well because I have played here a few times,” Williams said. “I don’t have to grind as much as others guys do around the putting surfaces and around tee shots. It is a little easier on me. It has been a struggle time-management wise. You have three to four days to play a practice round. I am used to just playing one right before.”
“It is basically just hit the ball in the fairway and two-putt. You can make as many pars as you want out here. Obviously this week you are going to have to make a couple birdies. But the greens are so perfect that you can make a lot of putts out here this week.”
Williams shot a 64 in the final round of the state amateur and survived a three-man playoff to earn the tournament spot. He admits that the opportunity to compete in a PGA event came into his mind in the final holes of the event.
“I let my mind go a little bit. But I tried not to do that because it is hard not to do that when you make a couple birdies and you start thinking about things. It was definitely in the back of my mind but I am glad we are here now.”
Williams will have a familiar teammate alongside him throughout tournament week. Grafton native and Wheeling Country Club head professional Jason Robinson will serve as his caddy, just as he has for many West Virginia Golf Association events.
“He hasn’t been all over me and clobbering me with information but whenever I need him, he is always there to go to. He has been awesome for me and I am glad to have him out this week.”
Williams is scheduled to tee off at 2:15 on Thursday. That is the last of the tee times in the field. As he waits around for his chance to take the course, Williams will occupy his time like most college students would.
“I am going to wake up in the morning and hopefully get some homework done. Then I am going to have a lot of time because I don’t know if I am going to be doing much sleeping.”
The surroundings at the Old White are familiar but the field of over 150 professionals from around the world will provide a much different backdrop for Williams.
“Put headphones in and just do your thing. It is a little tougher than I thought it was going to be. Having Jay here, he knows how to take my mind off things and just get back to mine and his world instead of this whole world that I am not used to so far.”