July 16, 2009
Brandon Garriga and Josh Martin nearly couldn''t make it.
Each man wanted to return to Columbus this week to defend their run of four consecutive titles at the Columbus Classic, but life appeared to get in the way.
Garriga, a third-year medical student, was smack in the middle of a schedule that has him in a surgical rotation. He and his wife also are preparing for the birth of a daughter next month, so it didn''t look like he was going to be able to travel from Jackson to Columbus to play.
But things have a way of working out.
Garriga learned Friday is a short day and it just so happens that he has the weekend off.
With Garriga''s path now clear to play, Martin had to try to rework his schedule to free up time. His efforts proved successful, much to the chagrin of all of the other teams involved in this year''s event at the Columbus Country Club.
"Neither one of us thought we would be able to play," said Garriga, who grew up in Lowndes County and who attended Heritage Academy. "The surgical rotation is the most time-consuming and hardest rotation (he just started it), and because of time constraints I thought I would not be able to play. It just so happened that I am going to be able to work it out and come down Friday morning. I guess it is the luck of the draw."
Tee times for the four-ball event begin at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The three-day event will feature 48 teams from all over the area, including several from Jackson and Tupelo.
There will be five flights, and trophies, gift certificates and a $5,000 hole in one prize will be given out.
Last year, Garriga and Martin teamed to shoot a 18-under-par 198 and win their fourth consecutive title by eight shots.
The team took a two-stroke lead Friday and never trailed in the event.
Things might be a little different this year.
Garriga admits he hasn''t had a lot of time to play golf and said he "doubts" he and Martin will be the favorites this year.
"I played three rounds the last week and a half and I played really well," Garriga said. "I am pretty happy with how I am hitting it with a lack of play. We''ll have to see how it is in a tournament. It is always different when you''re under pressure. I think we''re both happy (with how we''re playing). Hopefully, it will show this weekend."
Martin, who also lives in Jackson, said he has been playing a good bit lately and has been able to practice a lot. It helps that his work as an assistant superintendent at the Country Club of Jackson allows him to spend some time on a golf course.
Martin said he is excited that he was able to change his schedule to get an opportunity to defend the title. He feels he and Garriga have been so successful through the years because their games complement each other. He hopes that trend continues this weekend.
"We''re not scared to tell each other when we''re doing something wrong or holding back or playing defensively and that we need to get after it," Martin said.
Both players said their knowledge of the course helps them.
Garriga grew up playing golf at Columbus Country Club, while Martin, who went to Mississippi State, did an internship at the country club and considers it his "second home course."
"I really feel comfortable there and know where to attack, where to sit back, and I feel comfortable with the people there," Martin said. "It will be a good reunion with the people I get to see once a year."
Garriga has a similar comfort level with the course. He said he will rely on that knowledge in a quest to make it five titles in a row.
"You always enjoy playing in a tournament where you have had success," Garriga said. "Columbus is my hometown, and (Columbus Country Club) is my home golf course. I look forward to coming home and playing there."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.