Hooters didn't make Will Rogers happy last week, but the Kandy Waters Memorial Classic served a purpose for the Greenbrier High School junior.
The Classic was a stop on the NGA/Hooters Tour, and Rogers qualified for the event to earn a start in his first professional golf tournament.
Though Rogers wasn't satisfied with his rounds of 78-77 at Savannah Lakes Village's Monticello Golf Course, his show of courage and composure overshadowed his scores.
The pressure of Thursday's and Friday's play in McCormick, S.C., wasn't so much from teeing it up with the pros.
The problem was finding a way to focus on something other than the initials on his Greenbrier golf bag.
DH and SW were stitched on Rogers' bag, and the memory of Daniel Hall and Shane Williams, two Wolfpack teammates who died in an automobile accident earlier this month, are etched in his mind.
Micah Cade played with Rogers for two rounds, and the Hooters Tour member never knew the 17-year-old carried such a heavy burden.
"Oh, man. I had no clue. That's terrible," Cade said. "We didn't talk about that at all, but I'm sure it was in his mind a little bit."
In a bitter irony, Rogers struggled on the par-4 sixth, posting double bogeys on the hole in both rounds.
Every hole at Monticello has a name, and No. 6 is called "cemetery."
Rogers had already signed up to qualify for the tournament before the accident. Then, after the loss of his teammates, he didn't pick up a club for nearly a week.
Still, he made the qualifier on April 20 and shot 76 to nail down a place in the field.
"He wanted to play and get his mind off things," said Will's father Chris, who caddied for his son last week. "The main thing is he's playing because they would have wanted him to play, and he would want the same thing for them."
Two days before the Hooters event, Will fired a 66 at Rocky Branch Golf Course, but birdies proved elusive on the tricky greens at Monticello.
"I hit the ball well, but I didn't putt well either day," he said.
Rogers didn't achieve his goal of making the cut, but playing partner Cade came away impressed.
"He's got a good game," Cade said. "He's really young, but he's playing well for his age. He was pretty quiet, but well-focused out there. It was a great learning experience for him more than anything."
Over the last two weeks, Rogers has experienced more than some people do in a lifetime. Although his concentration on the course was tested, his confidence didn't waver.
Rogers wasn't in awe of the guys that play golf for a living, because that's the path he plans to take in the near future.
"I was trying to concentrate on my game," he said. "It's a lot different than playing high school matches and junior tournaments, but I know I can hang with 'em if I play good."
Rogers will be hanging with his prep teammates this week, as the Wolfpack competes in the Region 3-AAAA tournament Friday in Waynesboro. The top two squads at region advance to the state tournament, and the region medalist also secures a trip to state.
Considering the sorrow and setbacks that have hit Greenbrier's golf team this year, region provides another test of willpower for Rogers and the Pack.
The squad has seen the worst, and now Rogers hopes for the best at Waynesboro Country Club.
"I need to play better that I did (in the Hooters event)," he said. "I think our team has got a good chance of winning it and going to state."
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