GREENSBORO — It’s the same golf tournament, with the same elite-level junior players playing the same week at Sedgefield Country Club’s Donald Ross course.
But now in its 15th year, the name has changed.
Now it’s the AJGA Haas Family Invitational, with ties to three generations of PGA Tour pros.
Competition is Tuesday through Friday.
But the tournament unofficially begins Sunday, when Bill Haas stops by on his way to the U.S. Open to spend some time with the teenage players. Jay Haas will spend Monday at Sedgefield, a day of practice rounds and the money-making BB&T Junior-Am tournament.
The tournament lost its title sponsor after last year, when FootJoy changed its marketing strategy.
That led Mark Brazil, who came to his job as tournament director for the Wyndham Championship from the AJGA, to change strategy, too.
“We had such a great run with FootJoy, close to 10 years, but they just went a different direction. I totally understand it,” Brazil said. “We started thinking, ‘Is there any way we could tie in with a PGA Tour pro?’ ”
Wake Forest alumnus Bill Haas made the most sense — “Bill is one of our best friends,” Brazil said — and the Haas family made even more sense with their ties to the Triad.
Bill Haas won the 1998 AJGA Chrysler Junior in Greensboro. He made his PGA Tour debut in Greensboro and has played the city’s tournament all 11 years since.
Jay Haas, Bill’s father, has played Greensboro’s tournament 22 times.
Bob Goalby, Jay’s uncle, won the 1958 Greater Greensboro Open and played here 15 times.
Jerry Haas, Jay’s brother, is the golf coach at Wake Forest and has also played the Wyndham.
To bridge the money gap, BB&T, TCBI and the Wyndham Championship picked up most of the slack, sharing the load as presenting sponsors.
“We definitely didn’t want to lose this event. It’s too important,” Brazil said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a presenting sponsor next year, somebody who can come in and write the big check so that we can do all the bells and whistles, and still have money left over for charity.
“But we’ve got it paid for this year. With no problem.”
Part of the funds come from Monday’s Junior-Am, when 28 teams of three amateur players are each matched with one of the AJGA teens. The cost to play in that event tripled, Brazil said.
“We called all our Junior-Am partners and told them,” Brazil said. “... Every one of them said yes. They realize this is an important community event.”
It’s also a chance to catch a rising star.
There are 46 players on the PGA Tour who played in Greensboro’s AJGA event as juniors.
“The Junior-Ams are fun for the (AJGA) kids,” Brazil said. “And think about this: How many Junior-Ams did Tiger (Woods) and Phil (Mickelson) and Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth play in? There are people out there now, all over the country, who can say, ‘Man, I played with Tiger Woods when he was a teenager,’ or ‘I played with Jordan Spieth five years ago.’ That happens all the time.”
Brazil and the Wyndham have maintained a close relationship with the AJGA event in large part to build friendships with young players. Because many of those young golfers grow into the pros who fill the Wyndham’s field.
Greensboro’s AJGA alums include Wyndham champions Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed.
“It’s been a great run. ... Everything I’ve ever dreamed of this event being, it’s become that and beyond,” Brazil said. “The kids love it. The parents love it. And now there’s more to love with Bill and Jay Haas.”