Russell Henley, the former University of
Georgia star and 2011 U.S. Walker Cup team
member, knows a good golf course when he
sees one. That’s why his decision to join the
Country Club of Charleston after just one visit
shines nicely on the course.
Henley’s reasoning? According to the club’s
president David Humphreys, the recent PGA
Tour winner said they were the best greens
he’s ever played on.
Those firm and fast greens, and the rest of
the historic track, which was established in
1786, will be tested this week by one of the
strongest amateur fields of the season at the
65th playing of the Azalea Invitational.
Beginning Thursday, a field of 112 takes aim
at a title once held by U.S. Open winner Webb
Simpson (2004, 2007), PGA Tour player D.J.
Trahan (2002) and four-time U.S. Mid-Am
winner and Walker Cup player Nathan Smith,
“It’s a wonderful course and a terrific field,”
said tournament Chairman David Humphreys,
who also serves as President of the club,
which will also play host to the U.S. Women’s
Amateur Championship this summer. “We
have good players a bunch of good guys.”
According to Humphreys, the 6,800-yard
track, which was redesigned in 1924, plays a
lot tougher than it seems.
“Our greens are firm,” he said. “The
tournament record is 13-under but most
players won’t get there. Webb Simpson won it
twice and was only around 5-under.”
From a field complete with high level mid-
amateurs, collegiate stars and highly-ranked
juniors, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Defending
champion Matthew Nesmith won’t be there to
defend, meaning the prestigious title is up for
Mike Miller, the former Penn State player who
was recently invited to attend the Walker Cup
practice session, is the highest-ranked player
in the event, according to our
Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Player Rankings.
The Brewster, New York native is No. 6 in the
North Carolina native Scott Harvey is ranked
No. 18 in the U.S. and had a second-place
finish at the Cardinal Amateur and the Rice
Brady Exber and Kevin Marsh help complete a
solid mid-amateur field. Exber, of course, has
won the Senior Azalea twice and also took
home the Coleman Invitational this past year.
Marsh is coming off a terrific year in which he
won the California Mid-Amateur, Carlton
Woods Invitational and the Stocker Cup. Exber
was the runner-up at Carlton Woods and the
Other mid-am contenders include Walker Cup
hopefuls Nathan Smith, who won his record
fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship last
summer, and Todd White, currently ranked
14th in the U.S. Both players turned in Top 20
performances recently at the Jones Cup.
The college ranks will also be well-
represented. Georgia Tech star and 2012
Porter Cup champion Richy Werenski is
planning on attending. Reigning ACC champion
Benjamin Rusch of Virginia will also be there
along with Clemson’s Thomas Bradshaw, who
won the Rice Planters and was second in the
North & South Amateur.
Jim Liu, the top-ranked junior in the Golfweek
rankings, hopes for a marquee victory. The
Stanford-bound New York native will be joined
by No. 7 Tae Wan Lee and recent St.
Augustine Amateur winner Jack Maguire as the
event’s must-watch juniors.
According to Humphreys, other contenders
and perhaps ‘sleepers’ given that the
tournament and the NCAA basketball
tournament begin on the same day include
Louisiana mid-am Patrick Christovich, North
Carolina mid-am Matthew Crenshaw and John
Engler, a former Azalea winner and PGA Tour
For complete pairings information, visit the
Azalea Invitational website: AzaleaInvitational.
All told, the field checks in at 112 --- one less
than last year. Humphreys says daylight
savings helps push the field to its near-
Two qualifiers helped fill out the elite field.
The event held an 84-player qualifying round
to fill seven spots. The Country Club of
Charleston also used its Club Championship as
Amateurgolf.com will have complete and
ongoing coverage of the 65th Azalea
Invitational. Check back with us beginning
Thursday for scores, recaps and more.
ABOUT THE Azalea Invitational
72 hole stroke play with a 54 hole cut on a
Seth Raynor design. Good mix of college
and mid amateurs. 7 spots available in a
Impressive list of past champions at this
traditional event. The Country Club of
underwent a major renovation in 2006 (the
tournament took at one year hiatus) and was
ready for play for the 2007 Azalea.
View Complete Tournament Information