As breeding grounds for elite golfers go, my home state of New Hampshire isn’t exactly a hotbed. Sure, the Granite State can rightfully claim Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, a Massachusetts native who cut her teeth inside our southern border at Nashua Country Club, and Jane Blalock, a 27-time LPGA winner who hails from Portsmouth. And Manchester native Jesse “Siege Gun” Guilford was one of the country’s top amateurs in the 1920s, winning the 1921 U.S. Amateur and playing on three U.S. Walker Cup teams during the decade.
But let’s face it, New Hampshire’s seven-month season isn’t exactly conducive to producing tour-level talent. Still, Granite Staters can take a measure of pride in the success of Scott Stallings.
A 28-year-old Tennessean, Stallings won his third PGA Tour title on Sunday, emerging from a pack of contenders to win the Farmers Insurance Open with a gutsy birdie on the par-5 18th hole of the formidable South Course at Torrey Pines. With the victory, he joined an exclusive group of players younger than 30 with at least three PGA Tour titles: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Anthony Kim.
Although Stallings grew up in the Volunteer State, went to Tennessee Tech and resides in Knoxville, he spent part of his teenage summers visiting his grandparents in Hampton, N.H., and competing on the state’s junior golf circuit. In 2003, he won the intermediate division of the Red Ryan CYO Golf Tournament, a popular statewide event with a 50-plus-year history that happens to be contested on my home course, the municipal Derryfield Country Club in Manchester.
To his credit, Stallings hasn’t forgotten his time on New Hampshire’s fairways. Shortly before winning the 2011 Greenbrier Classic as a Tour rookie, Stallings told me that his Red Ryan victory was an important stepping stone in his climb to the big time. And not long after notching his second Tour victory, the 2012 True South Classic, Stallings invited the three division winners from that summer’s Red Ryan to meet him at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Mass., not far to our south.
As a former Red Ryan competitor myself, I’m proud that one of our own, so to speak, is enjoying success at golf’s highest level.