Former USCA golfer Atkins to make first PGA Tour start

Photo courtesy of the eGolf Tour ¬ Former USC Aiken golfer Matt Atkins will make his PGA Tour debut Thursday in the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Georgia.

Former USC Aiken golfer Matt Atkins continues to make the most of the opportunities afforded him in the game of golf. His most recent accomplishment, a round of 67 at Brunswick Country Club in the Monday qualifier for the RSM Classic, means that he will make his PGA Tour debut on Thursday in the RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club.

Atkins, who spent last year on the Tour tied with Gavin Coles for medalist honors and the Monday event and secured one of the four spots up for grabs in this weeks PGA Tour event.

“It’s very exciting,” said the 24-year-old Atkins, who has been spending most of his time this fall working his way through Q-School for the Tour. “This is certainly a bonus to come and play well enough to get into a PGA Tour event. Now I’m just trying to go out there and enjoy it and try to play well.”

The event is spread across two courses at the golf club, and Atkins will tee off on the 10th hole of the Plantation Course at 10 a.m. with Tyler Aldridge and Andrew Landry, a few groups in front of Aiken native Kevin Kisner, who tees off at 10:20 a.m. Fellow USCA alum Scott Brown will also tee off at 10:20 a.m. on the 10th hole of the Seaside course.

With a victory Atkins could secure a spot on the PGA Tour for the rest of this season and status for two additional years. A top-10 finish would get him an exemption into the next PGA Tour event.

This isn’t the first time Atkins has found success on the golf course during this time of the year. Last year, Atkins performed well enough at Tour Q-School to earn status on the tour – which meant he didn’t have to participate in the pre qualifier tournament for this week’s Monday qualifier. He didn’t finish high enough on the tour this season to avoid going through Q-School again, but he has made it to next month’s final stage of the qualifying process for the Tour. Atkins sees this week’s foray into the world of PGA Tour golf as another big step in his career, and he’s approaching it with confidence.

“I don’t really feel like I’m afraid of the moment or afraid of the crowd or anything. I feel like if I play well, I’m good enough to compete with the guys, so I’m not too nervous,” Atkins said. “To me, it’s another golf tournament I’m going to prepare for and try to do my best in. At the same time, I’m going to enjoy it, because who Knows if and when the next opportunity to tee it up with the world’s best players is going to come.”

Eric Russell is the sports editor at the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter at @EricJ_Russell.