Bob Gillespie



Home Course: Brad Faxon

Posted 8/6/2011 7:29:00 AM

Though the Barrington, R.I., resident’s roots are solidly planted in New England, there also will always be a South Carolina connection for Brad Faxon.

A two-time All-American at Furman University in Greenville and the 1983 Fred Haskins Award winner as the nation’s top college golfer, he was a strong supporter of the Heritage during its recent search for a sponsor. Starting in 2012, it’ll be the RBC Heritage, and Faxon says he will be thrilled to play at Harbour Town then – if he’s free that week.

Chances are, though, the soon-to-be 50-year-old (Aug. 1) will be terrorizing the Champions Tour by then. An eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, his last victory came in 2005 at the now-defunct Buick Championship, but injuries played havoc with his game since, and he had not made a cut in 2011 through June.

Still, there is no better example of playing talent – for years, he was recognized as the PGA Tour’s finest putter – and unselfish professionalism than “Fax.” With fellow New Englander Billy Andrade, he serves as host for the annual CVS Charity Classic, Rhode Island’s largest charitable sports event (more than $7 million donated to youngsters.) Faxon also created his own junior golf foundation and hosts its annual tournament.

His peers look to him as a not-so-elder statesman, and media types know him as a consistently terrific interview, an insightful, eloquent and candid guy who tells it like he sees it. And while his game has suffered during his 40s, the rest of the Champions Tour isn’t looking forward to Aug. 1.

Hometown: Barrington, R.I.

Bio: Born in Oceanport, N.J. Graduated from Furman in 1983 with a degree in economics and played for the U.S. Walker Cup team (1983). Played the PGA Tour every year since 1983, earning $17.7 million; Top 50 on PGA Tour career money list.

Highlights: Won eight times on the PGA Tour, including back-to-back B.C. Opens in 1999-2000. Finished second in the 1996 Tour Championship, fifth in the 1995 PGA Championship and seventh at the 1994 British Open, as well as playing in 11 Masters. Was a member of two U.S. Ryder Cup teams (1995, 1997) and the 1997 Dunhill Cup team.

Where to play: “I’d put Harbour Town on top of my list, but then I haven’t seen a lot of other golf courses (around Hilton Head); I thought Colleton River has a really nice pair of courses; Belfair is good, and Long Cove is as good as Harbour Town. Other places … Yeamans Hall (Charleston) is a great old course, and I’m going to play (Beaufort’s) Chechessee, which I’d love to see. I’ve never played the Ocean Course, believe it or not; I wasn’t that close to making the 1991 Ryder Cup. Chanticleer in Greenville is a great course. I haven’t played Furman (University Golf Course) since it was redone (by architect Kris Spence), so I can’t comment on that. But when I was there, I thought just having a golf course on campus was a big deal, you know?”

Where to eat: “I don’t come back to South Carolina all that often now, though I’ve been going to Greenville for a while. On Hilton Head, there’s two spots I like to eat: Red Fish, a great restaurant with a lot of wine selections, and Aunt Chilada’s. There was a neat little place where Davis Love (III) had his 40th birthday, but it’s closed. And I just discovered Kenny B’s, a good Cajun place.”

What to do for fun: “When I’m here (Hilton Head), I love to play tennis. I’m friends with (former U.S. Open champion) Stan Smith and Billy Stearns, who runs Stan’s tennis camp. I like to go deep-sea fishing with my kids, and I can’t think of a week here where I don’t have my bicycle out. Oh, and I play a lot of golf. Did I mention that?”