Bluffton golfer catches his 'Big Break'

Richy-WerenskiIt’s been quite the year for professional golfer Richy Werenski.

Just last spring, he was still in school, finishing up a decorated collegiate career at Georgia Tech with his strongest finish in the NCAA Championship. After graduating in June, he turned pro and promptly won three professional tournaments. He then made the Lowcountry his permanent home and is currently featured as a contestant on a popular televised golfing reality competition while pursuing his dreams on the PGA’s developmental Web.Com circuit.

The hope, possibly soon, is to launch himself into the sport’s highest ranks, the PGA Tour.

“It’s been exciting. I really couldn’t ask to be doing anything else. I love it,” Werenski said. “Whether it’s going to actually work out or not, you never know, but you’ve got to give it a shot. And I’m fortunate enough to be able to do that right now.”

Werenski won three times last year on the Carolinas Tour, and nearly won a fourth, just missing another victory in a playoff. This year, Werenski is competing on the Web.Com Tour, which promotes its top 25 year-end money winners to the PGA Tour.

“Last year, I got my first professional wins, and that was huge confidence boost,” he said. “I’m still feeding off of that [momentum]. I feel like I’m definitely good enough to be out here out on Web.Com, and hopefully eventually the PGA.”

Werenski originally moved from South Hadley, Massachusetts, to Hilton Head as a sophomore in high school, training year-round at the prestigious International Junior Golf Academy.

“That’s when I first got acquainted with the area and really fell in love with it,” said Werenski, whose parents both competed as golfers in college.

After turning pro, Werenski made Bluffton’s private golf community Berkeley Hall — and its two award-winning Tom Fazio courses — his home base.

“I decided this is where I want to be. I had a choice to make. I could pretty much go wherever I wanted, but I didn’t think I could find a better place than Berkeley Hall,” said Werenski, a Berkeley member through the club’s aspiring professional option, “The practice area they have is absolutely phenomenal. Everything is right here. It just seemed like it fell together perfectly for me.”

Werenski, 23, is currently the youngest contestant on The Golf Channel’s “The Big Break The Palm Beaches FL” a unique golfing competition and reality show in its 23rd season. Each season pits aspiring professional golfers against each other in a slate of skills challenges, with the low-performing contestant facing elimination each week. The overall winner earns entry into the Barbasol Championship, a new PGA Tour event for 2015 to be played in Opelika, Alabama, in July.

The show, which has already been taped, presented an opportunity for Werenski to test himself in a challenging environment.

“I felt pressure like I didn’t know that I could ever feel … I don’t think you ever could be prepared for [that type of competition],” Werenski said. “It’s just so different than just a round of golf or playing in a tournament. But as long as you’re mentally strong, that’s really what the show’s all about.”