Heading into a tournament as the defending champion is not a new experience for Robert Mize. He has won on the high school and college level.
But Thursday he tees off in a bid to defend his biggest title, Georgia state amateur champion.
The state amateur tournament gets underway at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at the Sea Island Golf Club at St. Simons Island. Mize tees off at 1:20 p.m.
"It is great, obviously, knowing that I have the ability to do it," said Mize, who won last year at Idle Hour Golf Club in Macon, Ga. "I feel less pressure because it is so hard to defend and none one expects anyone to be able to do it. I am looking forward to it. It should be a fun week."
Mize is coming off a second straight season playing for Columbus State in which he earned Division II All-America status.
Mize didn't earn a win, but he did have seven top-16 finishes, including three top-six finishes. He finished third in the season-opening Saint Leo Invitational, then finished sixth in the Aflac/Cougar Invitational at the Country Club of Columbus. His best event was a runner-up finish in the Southeastern Collegiate in Valdosta, Ga.
Since the end of the college season, Mize has played in three amateur tournaments with the results "nothing great," according to Mize.
But heading into Thursday's first round, Mize says his game is in good shape.
"I have been working on some things," said Mize, who has been working with his father, 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize, and CSU golf coach Mark Immelmann. "My set up has been a little off. I have also been working on the transition from the top of my backswing to my downswing."
When Mize won last year with a final-round 67, he became the 11th Columbus golfer to win the state's most prestigious amateur title. He was also the second in a row as Jimmy Beck won in 2013. Beck is now playing as a professional on the eGolf Tour.
But there are six other players from Columbus in the field. They are Bobby Brent III, Parker Derby, Jason Fober, Cason Hammock, Charlie McDaniel and Stanton Schorr.
The last player to successfully defend his state amateur title was Russell Henley who won in 2008 and 2009. Henley is now on the PGA Tour.
Columbus' Carter Mize also won back-to-back in 1993 and '94.