Catching Up With Hometown Golf Hero Josh Teater
By Mike Fields
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. – When Josh Teater played in the Barbasol Championship in 2018 and 2019, it was a much-hyped homecoming for the former Lexington Henry Clay High School and Morehead State golfer.
At the time, Teater was living in St. Simons Island, Ga., with his wife Ashley and their two young sons. So, it was a thrill for his family and friends when he got to come back to Lexington and compete in a PGA TOUR event.
Teater, naturally, is always a crowd favorite at Champions at Keene Trace.
In 2019, he rode the fans’ spirited support into contention on the weekend. He finished 21-under par (65-70-64-68), tied for sixth place, and earned $117, 250.
The Barbasol Championship was canceled last summer because of the pandemic, but the pros are back in town this week to play in Kentucky’s biggest golf tournament.
And it’s a different scenario for Josh Teater: It’s not a “homecoming” anymore because he and his family moved back to Lexington about six weeks ago.
This time around, he noted, the Barbasol Championship “is a true home game” for him.
“We kind of knew we’d come back at some point,” Teater said, “It just seemed the right time, with the kids’ ages (Bain is 7 and Brooks is 3½), and the family we have here.”
Teater hasn’t been around his old stomping grounds much because of his playing schedule. He was in the Palmetto Championship at Congaree in South Carolina in mid-June; the John Deere Classic last week, and the Rocket Mortgage Classic two weeks ago.
But he did find time to attend John Calipari’s Father-Son Camp at UK with Bain, and play in the Children’s Charity of the Bluegrass Golf Classic at Greenbrier.
“It’s cool to be back and be able to do those kind of things,” Teater said.
As for this week’s Barbasol Championship, Teater is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle and make a run at his first PGA TOUR title.
Even though he’s 42, he knows his age isn’t necessarily a handicap.
Just last week 41-year-old Lucas Glover won the John Deere Classic. Stewart Cink, 48, has won twice this season. And, of course, Phil Mickelson was 50 when he won the PGA Championship.
“We are all capable of doing it,” Teater said. “Seeing guys in their 40s win, it’s encouraging for sure.”
It will take some terrific golf to do it at Champions this week. Troy Merritt went 23-under to win here in 2018, and Jim Herman went even lower – 26-under – to take home the trophy in 2019.
“For sure, you know you have to go deep,” Teater said. “The par 5s are very getable – you can usually reach all of them in two; you’ve got short clubs into some holes, and the greens are pretty soft.”
Teater’s chances – like just about everybody’s -- will hinge on the flat stick.
“Typically, I’ve been a good ball hitter off the tee, and I hit a lot of greens,” he said. “When I see some putts go it, my confidence grows. That’s our goal this week – to give ourselves as many opportunities as we can, play the par-5s good, and see where we land Sunday afternoon.”
If Teater is making a lot of birdies, he won’t be the only one to benefit. For every birdie (and eagle) he makes this week, he’ll donate money to Caddie127, the group of local charities that receive money from the Barbasol Championship.
“We’d like to get the community involved, too,” Teater said. “If people want to give whatever they can afford, even if it’s a dollar . . . we’re just trying to help out.”
Sounds like a hometown hero.