J.R. Smith’s college golf debut included hoodies, Tiger gifs, and an approach shot stuck to a foot

Grant Halverson

By Coleman Bentley
Monday was a big day in the golf world, but not because of anything happening on the professional circuits. Instead, the buzz centred around the Elon Phoenix Invitational, an innocuous college golf tournament turned viral epicentre thanks to the NCAA golf debut of two-time NBA champion J.R. Smith.

In case you missed the countless, breathless news bulletins over the past six weeks, Smith enrolled at North Carolina A&T in August in order to pursue not only a liberal studies degree, but a collegiate golf career. A short while later, he made the team, clinching his tee time at Alamance Country Club by advancing in the team’s qualifying tournament by a single stroke. In other words, Monday’s opportunity was earned, not given, and Smith showed up with his game face (and hoodie) on.

It’s all fun and games until some drops the Tiger Bellerive gif. The 36-year-old freshman then backed it up with an opening par …

… before settling into a solid opening nine, including two birdies and a clutch approach on the ninth hole that he stuck to within a foot.

Grant Halverson
J.R. Smith hits an approach shot to the 7th green during the Elon Phoenix Invitational.

Grant Halverson
J.R. Smith lines up a putt on the 8th green during the Elon Phoenix Invitational.

Grant Halverson
J.R. Smith fist bumps North Carolina A&T golf coach Richard Watkins during the opening round of the Elon Phoenix Invitational.

All the while, Golf Twitter followed along with glee …

Unfortunately, Smith struggled after his hot start, finishing with an opening-round 83 that put him in a tie for 77th place midway through the tournament’s opening 36 holes on Monday. That, however, shouldn’t put any damper on Smith’s story, which, if his dedication is any indication, will continue come hell, high water, or even the occasional triple bogey.


Golf Digest Middle East

Launched in 2008, Golf Digest Middle East is the #1 golf magazine in the region, featuring local content and exclusive articles from the world's leading professionals

Facebook Comments

Check Also

The important lesson Rory McIlroy learned that led to his 20th PGA Tour win

The man has 20 PGA Tour wins at 32 years old. Twenty. Think on that for a minute. Because with Rory McIlroy...