They want to help lead South Carolina to victory over Georgia in this weekend’s Regions Matches.
The two 12-man teams – six seniors and six from the regular division from each state – will square off for two days of match play starting Saturday at Belle Meade Country Club in Thomson.
Pope, who set a record for points by a regular division player of the year this season, doesn’t want to end the year on a losing note, even if it is a team event.
“I’ll be thinking about that,” said the 46-year-old Pope, who won four times and finished second in his other three starts this season. “It’s a lot more fun to be on the winning team.”
The 56-year-old Hurt won once but finished in the top 10 in all but one of his other eight starts to earn his first senior player of the year award.
South Carolina won the Matches last year for the first time since 2008, and the Palmetto State golfers lead the series 12-11-1.
The series started in 1988, with the senior division being added in 1995. Since the seniors came aboard 17 years ago, South Carolinians have never won both player of the year awards in the same year until this season.
Pope and Hurt live about 5 miles from each other in North Augusta.
“It’s a cool thing: two guys not only from South Carolina, but from North Augusta able to win the player of the year,” Hurt said.
Not only that, they play out of the same club – River Golf Club in North Augusta.
Pope’s spectacular play this season overshadowed Hurt’s year, which was built more on consistency than wins, though he did birdie the final three holes at Forest Hills Golf Club to win the Augusta City Amateur.
“He set a (points) record that may never be equalled,” Hurt said. “It was a pretty special year. He deserves all the recognition and accolades he’s received. I have no problem with that.”
Under the Regions point system, which rewards players points for top 20 finishes in each tournament, Pope racked up 450 points – 35 more than the record Mitch Marchman set in 2000.
Players earn 75 points for a win, 50 for a runner-up finish, 40 for third, 30 for fourth and down the line to one point for 20th.
This was the first full season Pope has played since 2003, and the first time he’s been the player of the year.
He took the break from the series to spend time with wife Ginger and his three daughters as they were growing up. Still, he had won five times before this year.
“My goal this year was to be player of the year and hopefully win some,” Pope said. “To break the record and win four times and never finish worse than second definitely exceeded my expectations.”
Pope’s victories this year came at the First Tee of Aiken Invitational, the Camellia Classic, the Augusta City Amateur and the Orville White Cup.
“Jeff has been a top player in the area for a long, long time,” Hurt said. “He didn’t play a lot (before this year), but I’m not surprised he had the season he did.”