The Georgia golf teams will open the 2020-21 season next month in Fayetteville, Ark., in the inaugural Blessings Collegiate Invitational presented by Tyson Foods, according to an announcement made Tuesday.
The 54-hole event Oct. 5-7 will feature each of the Southeastern Conference’s women’s and men’s squads competing for team, program, and individual honors. Live coverage of the tournament will air on GOLF Channel daily from 4:30-7:30 p.m.
The SEC recently announced that its golf programs may compete in up to three fall events beginning Oct. 1 against league teams or non-conference opponents from the school’s geographic region. Announcements about Georgia’s additional fall tournaments as well as plans for the spring portion of the season will be made at a later date.
The Blessings Collegiate Invitational will be Georgia’s first team competitions since the 2019-20 season was cut short in March by the coronavirus pandemic. Neither squad was able to participate in the 2020 SEC or NCAA championships.
“We’re very excited not just for Georgia Golf but for everyone in the SEC,” Georgia women’s coach Josh Brewer said. “I appreciate the conference having the patience and the vision and to allow us to compete, and this event creates a format where we can showcase all of our teams and players. We’ve waited since March to compete as a team and to get this stage to do so – an elite event on national TV – gives us even more excitement as we continue to prepare to start our season on a great note.”
“The start of every season is highly anticipated, but this one really stands out because of the way things ended last year,” said Georgia men’s coach Chris Haack, who will be entering his 25th season in Athens. “No one liked the way the season came to an abrupt halt, although we certainly understood why. So to say that our guys have been looking forward to competing together again as a team would be an understatement. Having a strong nucleus in place and adding three talented newcomers has us pretty electrified. Our league has shown great leadership and insight in organizing this tournament. The event in Arkansas will be a reunion of sorts as we get to play with our SEC rivals, and we know that the talent level and the competition are going to be as strong as it gets.”
The Georgia women will welcome back golfers who contributed every counting score during the 2019-20 campaign. The Bulldogs captured the team title at the Gold Rush, while Caterina Don and Céleste Dao earned medalist honors at the Minnesota Invitational and the Gold Rush, respectively. Don, Isabella Holpfer and Candice Mahe have earned invitations to the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
The Georgia men will return All-Americans Trent Phillips, Spencer Ralston, and Davis Thompson for 2020-21. Last season, the Bulldogs won the Jim Rivers Invitational and the Crooked Stick Invitational and posted top-5 finishes in three additional events. Thompson earned medalist honors at the Jim Rivers Invitational, while Phillips emerged victorious in the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic.
The Blessings Collegiate Invitational will be contested without spectators. Event officials are working closely with Blessings Golf Club and other health-related resources to carefully monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers will implement increased health and sanitation procedures in effort to protect the health and safety of the players, coaches, officials, staff, and production personnel on-site.
GOLF Channel on Tuesday announced a multi-year partnership with Blessings Golf Club and Tyson Foods to create and televise the Blessings Collegiate Invitational presented by Tyson Foods.
“Tyson Foods believes strongly in the power of college athletics to shape the leaders of tomorrow and to inspire our country today,” said John Tyson, founder of Blessings Golf Club and Chairman of Tyson Foods Inc. “Through the Blessings Collegiate Invitational, we are proud to give college golfers a platform to compete, and fans another chance to view these incredible athletes. In these challenging times, it’s important to show how our lives can continue by supporting athletic programs that contribute to the success and future of the sport in a safe and responsible way.”
“As we continue to expand our college golf platform, partnering with Mr. Tyson and the Blessings Golf Club to create a new collegiate event in Northwest Arkansas underscores GOLF Channel’s commitment to raising the profile of college golf,” said Tom Knapp, GOLF Channel executive vice president of programming and partnerships. “Our viewers saw this firsthand in 2019 with Arkansas’ Maria Fassi completing her college career by winning the individual national championship on her home course. We look forward to highlighting the sport’s future stars in October.”
In partnership with the University of Arkansas, Blessings Golf Club served as host for the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Division I Golf Championships in 2019, with both events televised live on GOLF Channel. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., and refreshed by Kyle Phillips, the course originally opened in 2004 and previously hosted the men’s NCAA regional in 2013.
The Blessings Collegiate Invitational will be one of six college golf championships televised on GOLF Channel, which includes the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Division I Golf National Championships, taking place in May of 2021 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
GOLF Channel is the television home for college golf. Following its announcement in 2013 as the exclusive television provider of the NCAA Golf Championships, GOLF Channel has provided live coverage of the men’s NCAA championships since 2014 and the women’s NCAA championships since 2015, which now are hosted at the same venue in consecutive weeks.
Throughout the collegiate golf season, GOLF Channel will deploy its comprehensive portfolio of news, digital and social media coverage year-round in covering collegiate golf, including specials for regional and national qualifying, on-site and wraparound news from golf’s biggest college events, and year-end award shows for the Haskins and ANNIKA Awards presented by Stifel.