MGCCC golf coaches come close to qualifying for the U.S. Open

Hear from MGCCC golf coach Brad Thornton.
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 11:08 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The US Open is set to take place June 15th through the 18th at The Los Angeles Country Club. Golf’s third major of the season is unique because both professionals and amateurs have the opportunity to qualify for one of the year’s toughest tournaments. Both MGCCC Head Golf Coach Brad Thornton and Assistant golf coach Jackson Wedgeworth were two of the 530 individuals worldwide to make it to the final day of qualifying.

“Well, I looked at a good friend of mine, Spencer Green came and caddied for me, and I talked to Jackson a little bit about it, just going back to locals for a little bit, finally getting through such a large playoff with such prominent names,” Thornton said.”

“Drew Love, Davis Love III son was there, and just some of those individuals, and when I feel like I finally made it through that step, I get to Ball Ground Georgia at Hawks Ridge Golf Club. And I just looked over at them, I said, I’m not really nervous.”

With a surprising comfort level, Thornton took on what people call the longest day in golf in impressive fashion.

“I put my phone up that morning, and I told my friend, I said, I’ll pick it up at lunch, check and see where I’m at. I got off to a really good start, had people sending me pictures of my name at the top of the leaderboard. The putter went a little cold on the back nine of the first round, so I should have given myself a better opportunity in the second round, but, hey, we got through and ended up birdieing five holes in an eight-hole stretch. Making the turn in the second round, I knew the opportunity was there and the putts didn’t fall. I get the same thing as the guy that missed it by one shot and the guy that finished last place in this qualifier.”

With the success that Gulf Coast Golf saw this season, Thornton and Wedgeworth had to change their final qualifying location because they were coaching the Bulldogs in the National Championship.

“We initially signed up for the Dallas location, which, out of the ten national locations, was the only one not on June 5, and it was on May 22nd. And then we quickly realized when we got through, uhoh, we’re going to a national tournament during that qualifier. So, luckily, the USGA allows you to change final locations after you’ve made it through, and we were both able to get that same location in Georgia.”

In a field full of PGA Tour players and some of the top amateurs in the game, Thornton missed qualifying by just four strokes., an accomplishment that had family and friends watching from across the globe.

“From Lucedale to just the entire Gulf Coast, I’ve got my brother keeping up with scoring over in Abu Dhabi, where he lives with his wife, and it’s 04:00 a.m in the morning there when we’re finishing up, so I wouldn’t trade the experience myself and Jackson Wedgeworth were able to go through this year for anything except for if we get to do it again next year.”

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