Brandon Mancheno with his Dogwood trophy (AGC photo)
ATLANTA – Before Brandon Mancheno could claim his Dogwood trophy, he had to stand around and think about it for half an hour. Some players may not do very well with that, but to Mancheno, that’s what teammates are for.
Including Mancheno, there were four Auburn players in the Dogwood Invitational field. When the horn blew Friday afternoon to call players in for lightning, Mancheno had just hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th. He was playing in the final group, and he was tied for the lead with Isaiah Jackson, who had just signed for a final-round 63 when the storm hit.
The Auburn contingent huddled, chit-chatted and tried to keep their blood pressure down. Mancheno returned to the course and two-putted from 45 feet for a par at No. 17.
On the par-5 closing hole, he left his approach about 10 yards off the green, used a utility club to get it on and made the 8-footer for birdie. His first thought?
“Relief,” he said with a big smile. “It’s over.”
The Dogwood victory represents a lot of firsts for the 19-year-old. It’s his first big win, his first time having to sit around in a weather delay before completing said big win, and the first time he had to get double digits under par to contend. Mancheno won at 21 under.
“I like to play aggressive,” Mancheno said, which is a good thing considering that you have to play Druid Hills Golf Club that way if you’re going to contend at the Dogwood. It sets up well for that.
“The greens are so good, you’re going to make a bunch of putts and it’s not long,” he said.
Mancheno spent the first part of the day chasing Isaiah Jackson, a rising senior at Memphis who transferred in this year from Meridian Community College.
Jackson was 10 under through 15 holes before making his first and only bogey at No. 17. His final-round 63 got him to 20 under. Mancheno was three groups back, but knew he needed to start making some birdies.
He was 7 under, and bogey-free, for the day. That final-round 65 got him to 21 under.
For the week, Mancheno had a fellow 19-year-old on the bag. Logan Epstein is a rising sophomore at the University of Indiana who has been a caddie since he was 15. He’s working the summer at nearby East Lake Golf Club, and got the call that an Auburn player needed a man for his bag at Druid Hills.
Epstein is a proud New Yorker (he flashed a muddied towel from the Tuxedo Club, where he mostly worked throughout high school) who played a few tournaments in high school himself.
He mostly spent the week getting numbers for Mancheno.
“More strategy before the greens and then confirmation on the greens,” Epstein said of his role. “He’s very good on the greens.”
A year ago, Mancheno’s summer began with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championship. He played four major amateur events last summer, with his best finish a top 5 at the Players Amateur. Mancheno missed the cut at the U.S. Amateur.
The Dogwood win won’t change his schedule, but it will change his mindset.
“Confidence for the rest of the summer,” he said.
Mancheno is a man of big game but few words. The non-golf part of all this was put to the test earlier this year. Mancheno’s Auburn team was in the spotlight for Golf Channel’s docu-series, Driven
. It focused on the Iron Bowl rivalry between Alabama and Auburn.
Mancheno tried to get used to the cameras through that process, but often it was hard to relax.
“It was a little bit exhausting because they were always there, they were always around us hanging out and doing whatever so it was good practice for being in front of a camera all the time,” he said.
As for Jackson, his learning curve came with his scoring clubs. The small-town Mississippi native has doubled down on wedge work since arriving at Memphis. He’ll hit as many as 100 wedge shots on the team TrackMan just as a warm-up to a practice session.
That paid off in spades at the Patriot All-America in December, which was a breakthrough win for Jackson. It nearly paid off again at the Dogwood.
“I’ve got a wedge game now,” said Jackson, and he leaned on it hard at Druid Hills.
A renewed confidence with his scoring clubs should keep Jackson hanging around the top of leaderboards all summer.
ABOUT THE Dogwood Invitational
Tournament week is June 7-12 at Druid Hills Golf
Atlanta, Georgia. The entry fee includes breakfast
tournament days as
as special events.
The history of this prestigious event extends back to
1941, when legendary amateur Tommy Barnes
captured his first of five Dogwood titles. Evolving
the times, the modern Dogwood has produced fine
champions like Webb Simpson (’07), Brian Harman
(’09), Dawson Armstrong (’15), and in 2019 Brandon
seen also in our course renovations and set-up, our
relaxed tournament atmosphere, and our spirit of
Players are required to walk during tournament play
and may carry their golf bag themselves (push
allowed) or take a caddie. Caddies may be requested
in advance during registration, or players may
one on their own.
Player housing is provided on an as available basis to
, caddies and traveling
companions are not
View Complete Tournament Information