James Clark grew up playing the Country Club of Columbus golf course and watching the annual Southeastern Amateur.
So as last year's event neared, Clark was excited to tee it up in the tournament for the first time. But then in late May, about three weeks before the first round, Clark suffered a dislocated shoulder and a torn labrum in a water skiing accident at Lake Harding.
Playing in the 2014 Southeastern Amateur was out. The bigger question was whether Clark, who won four team state titles and two individual state titles at Brookstone, would be able to play in his freshman season for the Georgia Tech golf team.
But Clark met with his doctors, who had a rehab plan to get him ready for the fall part of the 2014-15 college golf season.
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The plan worked and Clark was able to play for the first time since the accident in early August in a practice round at East Lake (Georgia Tech's home course) in Atlanta.
Clark ended up playing in nine events for the Jackets with his best individual finishing a tie for ninth at the Seminole Intercollegiate in Tallahassee, Fla.
He finished 37th or better five times, including a 34th-place finish in the ACC Championships. Tech won the ACC team title in a playoff, which Clark says was the highlight of his freshman season.
Now, Clark is ready to play in his first Southeastern Amateur. He will tee off at 9:40 a.m. on Wednesday.
"It is my home course," Clark said. "I grew up as a kid, looking at the Southeastern Amateur as a big amateur tournament."
Clark will be one of eight Columbus players in the 102-golfer field. He is hoping to become the first from Columbus to win the event since Carter Mize won in 2003.
"It is surprising," Clark said when asked about the lack of local winners in the past decade. "Columbus is a hot bed for golf. We send a lot of guys off the college ranks.
"But the tournament always draws a good field."
Included in that field is defending champion Grant Hirschman, who won last year in a playoff. Hirschman just finished his freshman year at Oklahoma.
The other local players are Rhodes Sturkie, Parker Derby, Stanton Schorr, David James, Bobby Brent III, Charlie Flowers and Bart Middlebrooks.
Clark is hoping his local knowledge can be a benefit this week.
"I know the little nuances, little angles, little breaks on the greens," Clark said. "It is second nature to me what spot to be in. Maybe if someone hasn't played here, they may overlook it."
Since the NCAA Championship ended earlier this month, Clark took some time off before playing in the Monroe Invitational at Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., last weekend. He finished 42nd.
One activity Clark has not returned to is water skiing.
Notes: The tournament has been won 26 times by a person from Columbus, but not since Carter Mize won in 2003. The tournament was started by Fred Haskins as the Columbus Country Club Invitational in 1922. It was renamed the Southeast Amateur in 1938. The players in the Southeastern Amateur will be playing for a new award this year, the Aflac Cup. Players who perform best this week in addition to the Rice Planters Invitational next week and the Oglethorpe Invitational in Savannah next month will win the Aflac Cup. Shea Sylvester, Steve Fisk, Chris Rogers and Taylor Wellborn earned the final four berths in the 102-player field in Tuesday's qualifier.