Spencer Sappington says his game is not in its best form, but don’t try telling the other 143 golfers in the field for the 25th Annual Georgia Senior Championship that the Milton golfer should not be favored to win the event.
Sappington is the defending champion in the tournament which will be held this year at Forest Heights Country Club. The 54-hole event will get underway Wednesday and conclude Friday.
The field will be cut to the low 70 and ties after the first two rounds for the Georgia State Golf Association sponsored tourney.
Sappington is "Mr. Senior Golfer" in Georgia. He won the Super Senior Championship earlier this year, and also won it last year.
"I’m the only golfer to have won both of those titles," Sappington acknowledged, "but right now my game is marginal, and I’m saying that with complete honesty."
Five golfers from the Statesboro area — Bob Cushner, Stacy Webb, Boyd Johnson, Biff Thompson and Bob Smith — along with Steve Collins of Claxton are in the field.
Webb is the general manager at Forest Heights, and Collins is the course superintendent.
Forest Heights was founded in 1947, but this will be only the second GSGA tournament which it has hosted. The first was 16 years ago in 1995 as the Georgia Four-Ball Tournament came to town.
Only one golfer from that 1995 tournament, Joe Brogdon of Macon, is playing in this year’s senior championship. Brogdon teamed with Emmitte Griggs to finish fifth in that tourney.
Sappington holds the record for most senior championships won with five including three in a row in 2003-05. His other title came in 2007 before last year’s victory. The only other golfer to win at least two straight tournaments is Walt Fugate of Macon who won in 1990-91.
Other former champions in the field are Jimmy Thomas of Johns Creek, four time winner Bill Ploeger of Columbus, Larry Clark, Frank Costanzo of Savannah, Tommy Reid, Jr., of Macon and Richard Van Leuvan of Atlanta.
Sappington is not a total stranger to Forest Heights, noting he has played it "a handful of times over the years."
"The last time I played it was in the first part of April this year," Sappington said. "I was in a tournament at Metter and skipped my practice round there to play with Bob Smith and Steve Collins, both good friends of mine."
Sappington said he expects a close tournament with no clear cut favorite.
"If I start to name names I’ll leave someone out," Sappington said when asked if he had any favorites. "Some of those 55-56 year old guys are really good. They’re rookies as far as the seniors tournament is concerned, but they’re really not rookies.
"It’ll be a good field, a fun tournament, and a tight tournament."
The course, a 6,553 yard layout designed by George Cobb, will provide a fair and strong test, Sappington said.
"Whoever wins it is going to have to play good," Sappington said. "Players are not going to be able to scrape it around and win.
"You’re going to have to drive it straight," Sappington said. "And, you’re going to have to hit quality iron shots. The greens have a lot of undulation in them."
The tournament is open to the public and free to attend.