Tiger Woods may not be in the field for the weekend’s U.S. Open, but Will Wilcox will be at the Congressional County Club in Bethesda, Md.
Wilcox, 25, who played for the Clayton State University Lakers from 2006 through 2009, will be teeing it up as part of the 156-man field, along with Lefty, Sergio, Bubba, Davis, and all the other stars who only need a single name identification. While Wilcox may not be in that pantheon yet, he’s certainly well-known around Morrow, Ga., and his hometown of Pell City, Ala., as one of the best young golfers to come out of the southeast in recent years.
And, the word is spreading. Golfweek recently identified Wilcox (along with, among others, Arnold Palmer’s grandson, Sam Saunders) as being one of five players without major-tour status who could have a big week on golf’s biggest stage. Wilcox, who turned pro in 2009, started the 2011 season on the Hooters Tour and earned Nationwide Tour status after Monday qualifying for the Stadion Athens Classic and finishing third. He was also 11th in last week’s Rex Hospital Open. In 2010 Wilcox, won on both the Hooters and Canadian tours, and has also won on the Hooters Tour in 2011.
While at Clayton State, Wilcox, a three-time All-American, led the Lakers golf team to its first Peach Belt Conference championship, and then to a top 10 finish in the NCAA Division II National Tournament.
The Open will be covered by ESPN and NBC, starting Thursday, June 16 at 10 a.m. The complete television schedule is as follows:
Thursday, June 16
10 a.m.-3 p.m.: First round, ESPN
3-5 p.m.: First round, NBC
5-7 p.m.: First round, ESPN
Friday, June 17
10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Second round, ESPN
3-5 p.m.: Second round, NBC
5-7 p.m.: Second round, ESPN
Saturday, June 18
2-8 p.m.: Third round, NBC
Sunday, June 19
1:30-7:30 p.m.: Fourth round, NBC
Of course, this is not the first time in 2011 that ESPN and Clayton State have appeared on the same bill. The Lakers national championship women’s basketball team’s semi-final and final games were both carried live on ESPN in March.
Wilcox’ Open debut, and the women’s basketball title are just a part of a very successful 2010/2011 season for Clayton State sports. The men’s soccer team reached the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in November 2010, and the women’s tennis team made it to the Division II Final Four in May.