Brookhaven resident Billy Andrade has put most of his effort this year into getting ready for January 2014, when he can “age-up” into the Champions Tour. He even quit his announcing job with Golf Channel to expedite the process. So last week’s tie for fifth at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi came as a pleasant surprise.
“I didn’t think that with five holes to go, I’d have a chance to win the golf tournament,” Andrade said.
The bad weather that plagued the tournament forced Andrade to play 35 holes on Friday. He finished by making three birdies and an eagle over his final six holes which thrust him into contention.
“That jump-started me and I kept it going on the weekend,” he said. Andrade shot 67 and 65 over the final 36 holes and wound up two shots out of a three-way playoff for first place. Andrade finished second for the week in greens in regulation. His iron play put him in position to make some putts.
“My mindset was I’ve got nothing to lose,” he said. “There are guys out there trying to bust out or save their jobs. I have nothing to worry about. My focus was on getting some rounds in and getting ready for the Champions Tour.”
Andrade had played only one other official PGA Tour event this year and missed the cut at Pebble Beach. He played four Web.com Tour events and only made the cut at the Stadion Classic at UGA. He also teamed up with Bill Haas in the CVS Caremark Charity Classic (an event Andrade co-hosts with buddy Brad Faxon) and tied for second.
Andrade was pleased to have son Cameron as his caddie. Cameron Andrade helped Woodward Academy win the state high school championship this spring and will play golf at Wofford University.
“I think Cam is the hottest caddie this summer besides Bones (Jim Mackay, Phil Mickelson’s caddie),” Andrade said. “When we were leaving on Sunday, Davis Love said, ‘Hey, Cam, you want to caddie for me in Reno?’”
The Andrades will be working this weekend at the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey, where Billy won in 1998.
Fricke defends at Georgia Open: Defending champion Jonathan Fricke of Snellville leads a strong field for the Tilted Kilt Georgia Open, which begins Monday at the Legends at Chateau Elan.
Fricke usually spends time on most Mondays trying to qualify to play on the various minitours. The Georgia State product hopes to regain his status on the Web.com Tour, where he last played from 2008-09. He has been working with PGA professional Jeff Paton at the Golf Club of Georgia.
Others expected to contend include 2012 runner-up Matt Nagy of Kennesaw, 2010 winner Samuel Del val of Atlanta, 2004 champion Tim Weinhart of Nuclear Golf at the Standard Club and reigning Georgia PGA player of the year Craig Stevens of Brookstone Country Club. Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz is also competing.
Top amateurs in the field include David Noll Jr. of Dalton and John Hopper of Eatonton.
On the Tours: Georgia Tech grad Nicholas Thompson wound up tied for fourth at the Sanderson Farms Championship, but only finished one shot out of a three-way playoff for first. Thompson was doomed by a double-bogey on the fifth hole on Sunday, but came back to birdie four of the last six holes. He was fifth for the week in putting, his best showing of the year. …
Georgia Tech grad Chesson Hadley was third at the Web.com Tour’s Midwest Classic. He was passed on the final day by Jamie Lovemark, who won for the first time since back surgery in 2011. Hadley said, “I gave myself some opportunities coming down the stretch and that’s all I can ask.” Hadley has secured his exemption on the PGA Tour for the 2013-14 season. Sea Island’s Paul Claxton was the third-round leader but finished tied for sixth after closing with a 71. …
Duluth’s Stewart Cink tied for 26th at the British Open thanks to a final-round 69. That marked his first round in the 60s at the event since he shot a 69 on Sunday to win the 2009 British Open at Turnberry.