Howard University Senior Gregory Odom Jr. made his debut on the PGA Tour on May 5 at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Golf

Howard’s Gregory Odom plays PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship

“The last few weeks were amazing and playing on the PGA Tour is something I’ve dreamt about for years.”

Potomac, MD–Howard’s Gregory Odom Jr. didn’t have much time to soak in his sponsor’s invitation to the Wells Fargo Championship.  After all, the day before he was to compete on the PGA Tour, he helped his Howard University team to win the PGA Works Collegiate Championship.  The winner is regarded as the HBCU National Champion.  Additionally, Odom garnered medalist honors as the top golfer at the tournament, defending the title he earned last year…merely months after Howard restarted golf after a 40-year hiatus.

“It’s crazy.  It’s just crazy that I’m here on the PGA Tour at 21 years old and still a senior in college,” Odom said.  

While Odom did not make the cut, he did finish ahead of seven full-time professional golfers, five of those sponsored by Titleist.  That in itself is kind of a big deal.

Odom has the skills for the next level

With rounds of 77 and 75, Odom didn’t have the birdies he needed to make the cut, but he displayed that he indeed had all of the shots in his bag to compete at the highest level.

For every putt that he burned the edge of the cup, he floated a long iron down softly on the correct attack side of the green.  For every misjudged short iron, he nailed a 300-yard drive right down the center of the fairway.  His progression will come with consistently putting all of the pieces together.

Make no mistake, it was a daunting task if you consider his schedule for the 14 days prior to making the start at the Wells Fargo at the TPC Potomac.  On April 18-20, Odom helped lead the Howard Bison to their first-ever MEAC championship in Silver Spring, MD.  May 2-4, the Bison would win a nail biter in the PGA Works Collegiate Championship in Philadelphia.  May 5, Odom debuts on the PGA Tour at the Wells Fargo Championship.  Quite a mental and physical toll for a college senior…but, Odom was here for it.

Odom’s schedule was not ideal for the Wells Fargo

Expecting him to be gassed at the start of the PGA Tour event after winning the PGA Works literally 24 hours prior, Odom showed his calm…bopping on the first tee to loosen up.  He previously told HBCU Gameday that he hears a song in his head and it helps him to get ready for his round.  The last time we saw him bopping was prior to his winning the PGA Works Collegiate medalist honors in 2021.

The first hole of the TPC Potomac is nicknamed “Mike Tyson.”  It was given that name because if you aren’t prepared it could deliver an early knockout punch to your round.  Odom’s first-ever tee shot was 288-yards and slightly right of the cart path.  His second shot from the sidehill lie would remain to the right of the green.  He would chip up and two-putt to finish his first hole with a bogey on one of the course’s toughest challenges.  From there, he would immediately settle and par the next hole.

He has all of the shots in his bag

Gregory Odom Jr hits a side-hill shot. Photo: Vaughn Wilson

Odom displayed every single golf shot a professional has.  He had crisp drives of 285-305 yards.  His long iron play might have been his best weapon.  He has considerable accuracy as well as pro height from his long irons.  His middle irons are solid as well.  

If there is one element that has to improve it is his putting.  To be fair, no greens have the undulations, stimpmeter ratings or speed of a finely manicured PGA Tour course.  It’s not something you can replicate.  The only thing that can get you used to that is playing those actual conditions. 

Odom’s presence was known by the gallery

At every hole, you could hear fans saying “That’s the kid from Howard.”  They took photos with their phones and followed his every move.  With a gallery of at least 40 who traveled to every hole with him, it was evident to the other golfers who played with him that he was a fan favorite.  With his mother, godmother, girlfriend, Howard teammates, Howard alums, his childhood swing coach and the PGA Tour social media team following his every move, he handled it all with poise…like a professional.  In so many ways, the moment was not too big for Gregory Odom Jr.

“I feel like if I play my game, I can play on this tour.  I need to work on some things, but in a couple of months, I could be ready to compete on the PGA Tour.  The last few weeks were amazing and playing on the PGA Tour is something I’ve dreamt about for years,” Odom said.

Puryear guided the action from the sidelines

Howard Director of Golf, Sam Puryear, walked every step of the first round with Odom.  He was like a proud father watching a son bloom.  He is a welcomed mentor as Odom lost his father in 2021 on the Saturday prior to winning the PGA Works title.  He assisted Odom by connecting him with a longtime friend who is a member at TPC Potomac, Guaylon Arnic, who was on the bag for the Wells Fargo Championship.  His insight into the course would prove worthy to Odom. 

“He (Arnic) had experience in where the greens were breaking and was able to explain some things that didn’t look normal,” said Odom.

As the PGA Tour, APGA Tour, PGA Works and PGA of America have made a concerted effort to foster diversity, the exemption that allowed the top HBCU golfer to compete on the highest level is a priceless reminder that opportunity is one of the ingredients that fosters greatness.

He was thankful for the incredible opportunity. “I want to thank Wells Fargo and the PGA Tour for allowing me this opportunity to play in this tournament,” Odom concluded.

Howard’s Gregory Odom plays PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship
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