The hundreds of hours Augustan Richard Maddox has spent working on his golf game are starting to pay off.
The 30-year-old Maddox has only been playing golf for six years, the last three competitively. Yet he's one of the brightest stars on the Regions Cup circuit.
Though he hasn't won an event, Maddox is fourth among Georgians on the Regions Cup points list and is a shoo-in to make the eight-man Georgia Regions Cup team for the second straight year.
This season, Maddox has three top 10 finishes, including a tie for second place at the Perry Watson Memorial, where he closed with a 4-under-par 68.
It hasn't been an overnight success story for Maddox, who is one of the 88 golfers entered in the 54-hole Palmetto Amateur, which begins today at the Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken.
"I took tons of lessons," Maddox said.
Augusta swing instructor Walter Pendleton started Maddox off, teaching him the proper fundamentals. Maddox now works with Bill McDonald of Athens.
From tee to green, Maddox is one of the top ball strikers in the area. It's on the greens that he sometimes struggles.
"Putting has been and still is my weakness," Maddox said. "Day in and day out, I'm not as good a putter as I could be."
When Maddox does putt well, look out. He's fired a 64 and 65 at his home course, North Augusta Country Club. In the first-round of the W.M. Gregory Classic last week at North Augusta Country Club, Maddox needed just 25 putts en route to a 70, which put him two shots off the lead. When some of the putting problems returned in the second round, the result was a 79 and a tie for eighth place.
In the Palmetto Amateur, Maddox will be going up against the toughest field of the Regions Cup season. In addition to golfers from South Carolina and Georgia, representatives from Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Alabama, California and North Carolina have made the trip to play the 107-year-old Palmetto Golf Club.
"I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to win," Maddox said. "I've worked hard to get where I am."
The field includes two-time defending champion Michael Carlisle of Aiken, a three-time Palmetto Amateur winner. Other former champions in the field include former North Augustan Terry Ezell of Rock Hill, S.C., Joe Hendrick and Bill McGowan. Other top players include Jason Martin of Lenoir, N.C., the current North Carolina Amateur champion and a match play qualifier in the 1999 U.S. Amateur.
This is also the eighth and final Regions Cup tournament for non-seniors, meaning some spots on the eight-player Georgia and South Carolina teams are up for grabs. Though it is a counting senior event for the Regions Cup, it is not the final senior event. The finale will be the Midland Valley Senior Invitational, Monday and Tuesday.