Beyond the ACCtion: Wyndham Championship Provides Comfort Zone For ACC Alums

Aug. 16, 2012

Steve Phillips, Associate Director of Communications for the Atlantic Coast Conference, looks at the ACC’s ties with the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro.

GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Even before they set foot on the course at Sedgefield Country Club for this weekend’s Wyndham Championship, PGA fans will be keenly aware that they are in Atlantic Coast Conference country.

Sedgefield, of course, was the site of the conference’s founding in 1953. But even the non-historians among the crowd won’t overlook the definite ACC connections.

For starters, they probably saw the billboards on the drive in. Wake Forest Athletics, in conjunction with Wildfire LLC, has posted three – two on I-85 and one on High Point Road – honoring former Demon Deacons. Defending Wyndham Champion Webb Simpson, defending FedEx Cup Champion Bill Haas and PGA Tour member Kyle Reifers are all on prominent display.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Simpson, who opened his title defense with a 4-under 66 on Thursday. “My dad always told me before I went to Wake that Wake is a family, guys that go there stay together, stay in touch. Just the role they still play in all three of our lives is great. We love being part of Wake still and just the support they show us is very kind of them and keeps the tradition going.”

A total of 21 former ACC golfers are entered in the Wyndham field, led by five representatives from Georgia Tech.

North Carolina alumnus Davis Love III, who shot a first-round 67, took note of Simpson’s strong showing on Thursday. As U.S. Ryder Cup team captain, Love will be counting heavily on Simpson at next month’s tournament at Medinah, Illinois.

“He’s playing great,” Love said. “Most of the guys on our team are really playing well. We’re happy for Webb. He’s had a big year with a baby (daughter Willow Grace, born July 28) and a major (the U.S. Open championship) and making the Ryder Cup team. So we’re excited for him and look forward to working with him over the next few weeks getting ready.”

Following his Pro-Am round on Wednesday, Simpson had been asked if he had been contacted by Wake Forest regarding a commencement speech or an honorary doctorate.

“No -- my GPA was just good enough to stay eligible for golf,” Simpson joked. “But I’ve stayed in contact with obviously (Wake golf coach) Jerry Haas, and (athletic director) Ron Wellman writes me letters and e-mails often.

“However I can help the school, I want to do it and I love (living) in Charlotte only an hour-and-a-half away and being able to get up to campus at any time and seeing a game or two. We’ll see what happens. I think I’m a little ways off from the commencement speech.”

As a native of Sweden, Carl Pettersson is not eligible for the U.S. Ryder team. But the former NC State golfer who grew up in Greensboro led the field on Thursday with an eye-opening round of 62. Impressive, but not even Pettersson’s best during a Wyndham Championship. He shot a tournament-record 61 in 2008 en route to the title.

“It’s close to home,” said Pettersson, who lives in Raleigh, N.C., and plans to make a 150-mile round trip commute each of the next three days. “I lived here, obviously, in high school and I just like it. Every tee shot I stand on, every tee box I feel comfortable.”

Fellow NC State alum Tim Clark marveled at the continued tradition of ACC success.

“It’s quite interesting that all these guys have played well here,” Clark said. “I think it, again, comes down to the style of golf courses that we play and the fact that we’re used to them and obviously enjoy them. I certainly would like to join that list of players.”