George Yocum remembers the time he played TPC Sawgrass and walked away with his golf game and his ego intact.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said of his round of 78 in 1994 at the course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
The Las Vegas real estate agent returns to Sawgrass on Saturday. This time, his experience might not be so pleasant, especially when he approaches the iconic “Island Green” par-3 No. 17 hole.
Yocum is in the 60-player field of the Nature Valley Amateur Championship, where golfers had to qualify to claim a spot. Yocum, who plays to a 12-handicap out of Badlands Golf Club in Summerlin, made it by winning his flight at the regional tournament at TPC Scottsdale (Ariz.) last month.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I first read about it in Golf Digest and decided to try and qualify. I tried to qualify in Las Vegas (at TPC Summerlin) in July, but I didn’t make it. So I went to Scottsdale and was fortunate enough to play well and get in.”
Yocum, 49, who played at New Mexico State and has lived in Las Vegas since 1994, said having previously played TPC Sawgrass does not give him a leg up on the competition.
“Not at all,” he said. “Tournament golf is totally different than playing for fun. There was no pressure on me when I played it before. Plus, I was a much better player back then.”
Yocum, who said he plays in most of the Southern Nevada Golf Association events, said this is a unique opportunity.
“It’s the best golf course in Florida and one of the best anywhere,” he said. “I’ve been practicing, and I’m hoping I can play well enough so I can be nervous when it comes time to play the last two holes.”
As for the Island Green?
“I just hope I don’t go into the water,” he said.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913.