By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks enjoys playing golf and there’s no one that golfer Josh Teater would rather see back in the Bluegrass for the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Jessamine County in mid-July.
Teater, a Kentucky native, is currently 22nd on the Web.com Tour with $108,643 in winnings, including two top 10 finishes. The top 25 money winners earn a PGA TOUR card for 2019.
Teater and Brooks became friends through social media and Teater joked at the Barbasol Championship Media Day that it would be great to have the former Kentucky football coach back for the event.
“I thought about reaching out to see if he could make it for the Pro-Am,” Teater, a Morehead State graduate, said.
Brooks Downing, Barbasol Championship executive director, said Brooks is on the “short list” of golfers being contacted about the Pro-Am.
Teater started following Brooks on Twitter several years ago and the coach showed up at a west coast tournament when Teater was playing. The two connected thanks to UK golf coach Brian Craig. Brooks watched Teater play and the golfer had dinner with Brooks and his wife, Karen. The following year Teater stayed at the Brooks’ house when he played in the tournament.
“It has just kind of evolved. It’s about a two-hour drive from Eugene (Ore.) to Portland where the Web.com finishes our season and he’s come the last two years,” Teater, who has won over $4.5 million on the PGA TOUR, said. “He loves golf probably more than anybody I know and if you follow him on Twitter, you can tell he shoots (high) scores but still always wins money every time.”
Teater grew up in Lexington and attended Henry Clay High School. He has always been a UK football fan and definitely followed the Cats when Brooks was head coach.
“I am always thinking we can push through and get to the next level. Every year I think that,” Teater, who got a sponsor’s exemption to play in the Barbasol, said. “We got blown out at LSU that one year (in 2006) and I was afraid that was going to be the end of it for him (Brooks) but they held on to him and a year later we beat LSU (in triple overtime) when they were ranked No. 1. He had some great years for sure and getting to connect with him has been great.”
Plenty of other fans will be anxious to see Teater play as well. He joked he might even “throw on” UK and/or Morehead gear one day on the course.
“I am thankful for every (social media) follower. Who knows who will show up at the course?” Teater said. “I ran into a guy in Raleigh that I played some high school golf against. I hadn’t seen him in 15 years. So I am definitely hoping a lot of fans come out to see me play.”
Teater admits he never envisioned a PGA TOUR event in Kentucky when he was younger. Even though many of golf’s biggest names will be overseas playing in the British Open the same time the Barbasol Championship is scheduled, Teater hopes fans understand plenty of talented players will still be in Jessamine County in July.
“You will see guys that are up and coming players you may never have heard of yet. You will see players from all over the world. Then you will have guys who have had some struggles and are trying to get back to the level they were before,” Teater said. “You will have past major champions like Davis Love, David Toms. There will be a whole range of guys here.”
That will include recent Kentucky graduates Cooper Musselman and Chip McDaniel.They both got sponsor’s exemptions to play in what will be their first professional tournament.
What advice would Teater have for them?
“Number 1, have a plan with what you want to do. Have a good support system around you, people that you can trust and lean on,” Teater said. “I wouldn’t put too much pressure on this event. Just enjoy and have fun and play like you can.”
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