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'A first-class event' for Auburn golfers, legends at Barbasol Championship Pro-Am
July 13, 2016

<em> Auburn All-American Michael Johnson makes his professional debut in the PGA Barbasol Championship.</em>
Auburn All-American Michael Johnson makes his professional debut in the PGA Barbasol Championship.

By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

OPELIKA, Ala - They crafted their legacies playing and coaching other sports on the Plains, but for many Auburn legends, it's golf that provides the ultimate challenge.

Dozens of Auburn greats -- names like Hudson, Herring, Gross and Gossom -- played in Wednesday's Barbasol Championship Pro-Am at Grand National, helping raise money for local charities.

"They put on a great tournament here. It's a beautiful golf course," said former Auburn baseball star Tim Hudson. "The Auburn-Opelika community has really rallied around this tournament and really supported it. It's exciting. It's great to be a part of it."

Another former major leaguer, Gabe Gross, showed off his skills on the green, sinking a 10-footer for birdie on No. 18 for his group, including assistant softball coach Corey Myers.

"That's one of the those `blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while,'" Gross joked. "This is a lot of fun. Golf is just golf. It's more mental torture than a person ought to have to endure but every once in a while you run one in."

Myers grew up in Arizona, where year-round golf is common.

"I've played a little bit," Corey said. "I don't think I'm good at it, but I play it. I enjoy playing it a lot."

In a Pro-Am, each group of four amateurs is paired with one professional.

Myers' group was the exception, with current Auburn golfer Matt Gilchrest, an amateur, serving as the tournament entrant.

"Playing with a kid who is still at Auburn is really special for us," Corey said. "I'm going to be out here this weekend just following him, walking with him, and hopefully he plays for four days."

The Gilchrest-Gross-Myers group included a non-playing member, Auburn softball head coach Clint Myers.

"We're having a great time," Clint said. "This is an awesome experience, playing with four great guys and Matt, a future pro. It's fun. We're laughing and playing good golf. It's nice to be doing something different from softball."

The Pro-Am created a reunion of sorts for generations of former Auburn athletes, including Thom Gossom, who played football in the early '70s.

"It's a lot of fun being with the guys. They're not getting on me too badly, because I'm not playing very well," Gossom said. "It's always wonderful to come back. You see guys, not only from my era but from all of the eras after that. It's a wonderful thing. I'm excited about being a part of it."

Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn played with first-team All-American Michael Johnson, who will be making his professional debut Thursday.

"This is a first-class event," Malzahn said. "It's been a lot of fun playing with Michael. He's a big-time golfer. It's been fun to watch."

Bringing the PGA Tour to within a few miles of Auburn's campus benefits the Tigers' golf programs.

"It's great for our community, and it's great for both our men's and women's golf programs," Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs said. "To have a signature event like this in our backyard. It's really phenomenal.

"To be able to get a lot of our former players, regardless of sport, to come out and take part in this, heightens the visibility and the importance of what's going on here. It's great to have some of our former men's golfers out here playing, like Michael in the first professional event ever. It's a great event, and it's a blessing to be a part of it."

<em> Gus Malzahn, Jay Jacobs and Michael Johnson after Wednesday's Pro-Am.</em>
Gus Malzahn, Jay Jacobs and Michael Johnson after Wednesday's Pro-Am.

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:


 

 

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