University of Alabama golfer Wilson Furr has a little expertise help this week during the Dothan Pro-Am on the Emerald Coast Golf Tour at the Dothan Country Club.
Dothan’s Thomas Ponder, a freshman golfer this year for the Crimson Tide, is along for the ride as a caddie for his teammate.
“Thomas is just super fun to be around,” Furr said. “I think that’s the biggest help. Obviously he knows the course, so there were a couple of times I’d ask him a question or two, but I think just someone fun to be around who has a really good attitude is helpful.”
Ponder, a former Providence Christian star and winner of the 2017 overall championship of the Press Thornton Future Masters on the DCC course, was glad to have Furr, a Jackson, Miss., native, in town for a few days.
Since the spring golf season was shut down in March due to COVID-19, team members had gone their separate ways while completing on-line classes for the spring semester.
“I hadn’t seen any of the guys in two months, so having Wilson here to cut up with — I was just missing being around the guys,” Ponder said.
It’s been a good week thus far for Furr, who is competing as an amateur against a strong group of professionals who have experience on circuits such as the PGA Tour, Korn Ferry Tour and Champions Tour.
Furr followed up a sizzling 6-under-par 64 during his first round on Wednesday with a solid 67 on Thursday. He is tied for the lead at 131 with two others — former LSU golfer Blake Caldwell (64-67) and Korn Ferry veteran Michael Arnaud (66-65) — going into today’s final round.
The three leaders are slated to tee off at 10:25 on Friday morning for the final round.
Furr almost had the lead to himself. A missed putt resulting in a bogey on his final hole Thursday had him frustrated.
“I saw that putt and I knew what it was going to do and I didn’t trust it, and I played it further outside of the hole and it did exactly what I thought it was going to do,” Furr said. “I was just mad because I didn’t trust my read, because that was my No. 1 game plan, just trust in what I see. I waited until 18 to screw that up. But I played solid today, I thought.”
Furr, a junior at Alabama, had some memorable moments on the DCC course as a junior golfer. He won the 11-12 age division of the Future Masters in 2011 and the 13-14 age division in 2013.
It is his first return to the course since winning as a 14-year-old.
“It’s funny, but some of the holes are a lot shorter than I remember them being,” Furr said. “I used to be a really bad driver of the golf ball when I was younger. Now I feel like I’m a pretty good driver, so the course feels actually a little more wide open to me than I remember it when I was 14.
“For the most part I remember all of the holes, and I love it out here.”
It’s certainly been a strange time for Furr and Ponder in not playing competitive golf for a two-month stretch due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ponder has tried to stay sharp by practicing at DCC in between doing on-line classes and keeping a workout schedule.
“Our strength coach sends us some workouts to do,” Ponder said. “I’ll do those, but I’ve been modifying, because I have a little bit more weights — so I’ll lift a little bit heavier stuff.”
While Ponder wasn’t interested in playing in the Dothan Pro-Am, Furr was eager to play a competitive tournament. Furr said he isn’t really using the tournament as a measuring stick to see how he compares to the pros, but instead testing his own game.
“It’s hard in a three-day tournament to judge all that,” Furr said. “I think more for me I just know when my game is good and when my game is not and I’m just trying to clean up things in my game.”
But make no mistake about it, Furr is trying to win this week.
“Hell yeah,” Furr said. “I don’t care who is in the field. If it’s my dad and my sister, I’m going to try to beat their brains out.
“I’m super competitive. It doesn’t matter to me what tournament it is. If I signed up to play, I’m going to try and do well.”
Former Providence Christian, Troy University and University of Georgia golfer Calum Masters was a late addition to the tournament this week and has shot rounds of 69 and 68. Masters is keeping his amateur status for now, but plans to turn pro this fall.
Former Houston Academy and current Auburn University golfer Hal Dove is also playing as an amateur and shot a 71 on Thursday after a first round 75.