Monday After the Masters event in North Myrtle Beach sells out quickly

ablondin@thesunnews.comMarch 4, 2013 

If you’re interested in attending the Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am in the future, you might want to have your mind made up and the date clear on your calendar by early February.

Although the 19th annual Hootie MAM on April 15 at the Barefoot Resort Dye Club is still six weeks away, the event is sold out.

The approximate 6,000 tickets went on sale Feb. 23 and were scooped up within six days.

This is the eighth consecutive year spectator tickets have sold out, though last year’s sellout in mid-March had been the earliest in tournament history.

“We’ve sold out, but nothing like this,” tournament director Paul Graham said. “We’re pretty psyched.”

Graham said support for the event is at an all-time high in other areas, as well, including sponsorships that generally account for the event’s playing spots valued at $5,000 per golfer. Foursomes of amateurs are paired with both a golf pro and another celebrity.

“The tournament itself is selling like crazy too with sponsorships,” Graham said. “We’ve put things on hold as we take a look through all the numbers to see if we’re taking care of everybody.”

NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin, former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end L.C. Greenwood, 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Team Captain Davis Love III, and basketball legend Rick Barry have committed to make their debuts in the event.

Coastal Carolina alumnus Dustin Johnson is among those who have committed to return to the event, along with golfers John Daly; Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey of Bishopville and Scott Stallings, Golf Channel commentator Charlie Rymer; and two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, who now oversees Michael Waltrip Racing.

ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning Show will kick off the MAM by broadcasting live from the first tee at the Dye Club beginning at 6 a.m. for the third consecutive year, and Golic is slated to play.

This is the 11th consecutive year the Hootie MAM has been held at the Dye Club.

Tickets were $15 and kids 12 and under will be admitted free with paid adults, though they must pick up a ticket the day of the event to enter.

Tickets next year might be in more demand considering organizers will be trying to put together something special for the event’s 20th anniversary.

“Having a good year leading into that 20th year can put pressure on you or give you a lot of momentum,” Graham said. “I’m pretty excited.”

CCU’s Hackler on tap

Four teams ranked in the top 50 in the nation according to Golfweek’s Sagarin rankings will be teeing it up next Monday and Tuesday in the 12th annual General Jim Hackler Championship at the TPC of Myrtle Beach.

In the rankings updated Sunday, Arkansas is No. 18, Kent State is 23, Tennessee is 32 and host Coastal Carolina is 49.

The other teams in the 11-team field are East Tennessee State, Middle Tennessee State, Lamar, Texas-El Paso, Florida Gulf Coast, Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb.

Among individuals, Kent State junior Corey Conners is ranked 10th and has finished ahead of other players ranked in the top 25 on 16 of his 23 opportunities. Tennessee’s Rick Lamb is 43rd, Arkansas’ Sebastian Cappelen is 48th and Kent State’s Taylor Pendrith is 56th.

Sebastian Soderberg is the highest-ranked Chant at 113, though he’s 11-11-2 against players in the top 50. The 11-squad field is small for the Hackler, which had 15 teams last year, 17 in 2011 and 12 in 2010, and some big-name programs that have participated in the past are among those absent this year. The tournament featured the defending national champions in three of the past four years – Augusta State in 2012 and 2011, and UCLA in 2009.

Big South Conference foes are included for just the second time since the event first moved to the TPC in 2003. Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb also participated in 2011.

The tournament is moving back to the TPC after being played last year at the private DeBordieu Club in Georgetown. The event started at the Resort Course at Grande Dunes and will be held for the 10th time at the TPC.

Auburn is the reigning Hackler champion but won’t be defending. The Tigers are hosting their own tournament on the same dates. Participants Arkansas, CCU, ETSU and Lamar are all past Hackler team champions.

The tournament has been traditionally played Sunday and Monday and is moving to Monday and Tuesday dates this year.

The Hackler is one of four remaining tournaments for the Chants before the April 22-24 Big South Conference Championships at the Patriot Golf Club in Ninety-Six, where 29th-ranked Liberty will likely enter as the favorite. The Chants’ remaining regular-season events are hosted by Florida State, UNC Wilmington and Augusta State.

Blanks opts for knife

Former Grand Strand resident Kris Blanks has opted to have surgery on a troublesome left shoulder and will likely miss the next three or four months of the PGA Tour schedule as he recovers.

The surgery was performed Thursday by sports orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Frank Cook near Blanks’ Jupiter, Fla., home, and resulted in some positive news.

Blanks and doctors weren’t quite sure what was causing chronic pain and weakness in his shoulder, but all that was uncovered in the surgery was scar tissue. Blanks said Cook found no structural damage or tears to the rotator cuff, labrum or ligaments, and he grinded down part of a bone to create more space for movement.

“All in all it’s as good as can be expected, now we just have to strengthen it back up and get ready to go,” Blanks said. “There was a lot of scar tissue built up over 35 years playing golf. He was able to clean all that out and give ligaments more room to move around.

“Now it’s just a matter of rehab and recovery, but it will take three or four months until I’m back out there.”

Blanks, 40, lived on the Strand from 1996-2002 and has been a member of the PGA Tour for the past four seasons. He finished 65th on the 2011 money list with $1.35 million earned and six top-12 finishes in the final five months of the season, including a playoff loss at the RBC Canadian Open.

The shoulder forced him to shut down his 2012 season in July after 23 starts.

With only four starts in 2013 on a medical extension to earn $257,451 and retain his card, Blanks entered the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament late last year and tied for fourth despite the injury to earn 2013 playing privileges.

He gave his shoulder a go in early February in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, finished dead last with a 7-over 74-75–149, and decided to explore surgery. “You can’t play hurt out here or anywhere,” Blanks said.

Because Blanks regained his card through Q-School, he should have a full season worth of events between 2013-14 through a medical extension to earn enough money to keep it.

“Because I went back to Q-School I’ve got a year,” Blanks said. “I just have to be wise about my comeback and not rush it; just come back when I’m ready.”

Blanks said he hopes to start swinging again in about four weeks. He’s considering making an appearance in the Hootie MAM on April 15, and may attempt to hit some shots in the competition if he feels up to it. “We’ll see,” he said. “Hopefully I can come and enjoy the festivities even if I don’t play.”

Vest back at beach

Former Dunes Golf and Beach Club head pro Brian Vest is back in the Myrtle Beach market.

Vest, who was The Dunes Club’s head pro from 2000-2007, is the new head pro at the Members Club at Grande Dunes, which was built as a private club and is currently operating as a semi-private facility.

Vest has spent the past five-plus years as director of golf at the private Bermuda Run Country Club near Winston-Salem, N.C. He has more than 20 years experience as a golf pro and was on the staff at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Roofs on fire

The brother tandem of Conway natives Justin and Brent Roof set a tournament record of 18-under-par 126 to win the 21st annual South Carolina Partners Championship by three strokes Sunday.

The duo shot a second-round best-ball score of 62, which was the day’s best score by six shots. The Roofs made eight birdies and an eagle during their record-setting round and claimed their second Partners Championship, which is conducted by the S.C. Golf Association.

The 92-team event was played over the 6,665-yard Spring Valley Country Club in Columbia and 6,686-yard Members Club at Woodcreek course in Elgin. Each team played a Captain’s Choice format the first day and a Best Ball format the second while alternating courses. The Roofs shot a 64 in the first round.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 843-626-0284.

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