Mississippi native Isaiah Jackson makes his first PGA Tour start at home
Isaiah Jackson had to play it cool. From community college to Division I golf, and now at his first PGA Tour event. The Golden, Mississippi, (...)
Isaiah Jackson had to play it cool.
From community college to Division I golf, and now at his first PGA Tour event.
The Golden, Mississippi, native and University of Memphis golfer played the same course as household names like Sergio Garcia at the Sanderson Farms Championship in his first round Thursday.
“I try not to show it, but it is definitely cool seeing some of the guys who are definitely at the top of the game,” Jackson said. “Trying to watch them hit shots and do things as much as I can without creeping them out and me hiding behind people in the range. It is a special moment seeing the guys here, guys I would consider studs, they’re really good. Definitely as a college athlete I’m like, ‘Man, that’s pretty cool that I’ve played with him.'”
Sanderson Farms: Leaderboard | Photos
Jackson said it took him a while to adjust to the feel of a pro tournament compared to college. After the first six or seven holes, he said he felt great and moved past his initial adjustment period. He finished Round 1 at 1 over, which left him tied for 106th.
“It should’ve been a little better, but I’ll take it,” Jackson said. “It was my first round on the Tour, so not bad.”
Jackson had his senior season in 2019-20 put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The senior, who was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA because of the virus, said playing in a PGA Tour event gives him a preview of what the next level looks like when it comes to ball-striking, short game and putting.
Before he got to the collegiate level, Jackson grew up on the Alabama-Mississippi border and played for Red Bay High School in Alabama, a nine-minute drive from Golden.
Jackson said he’s played the course at the Country Club of Jackson before at a state high school event, and he saw some old friends on the course volunteering for this week’s championship.
Jackson was also a part of the Gator Invitational Junior Championship at the Country Club of Jackson, where elite junior golfers 10-and-up compete. On Thursday, he became the sixth Gator alum to play in the Sanderson Farms Championship.
“It felt good to be in my home state for my first PGA event,” he said. “I’m kind of comfortable in that sense, even though it’s a different setting.”
None of Jackson’s family members were able to make the four-hour trip from Golden with the COVID-19 attendance restrictions in place, but he said he hasn’t felt a lack of support. With the event broadcast live nationally, Jackson said his phone has blown up from friends and family who are following him.
“It’s pretty cool to finally see my name out there with them,” he said. “Even though I’m not a pro yet, I’m still an amateur, it still feels good to know that I’ve done pretty well up until this point to deal with it. At least get a chance to play with these guys. That alone is huge blessing for me.”
Jackson’s college career started at Meridian Community College, and he was named to the All-Nicklaus Team in 2018 before transferring to Memphis. With the Tigers, he was named a 2020 NCAA Division I Ping All-American Honorable Mention. This weekend marks his latest milestone to reflect on the direction of his young career.
“Never give up,” he said. “From me being in middle school wanting to be here, and finally being out here, it just proves that if you keep pressing on it, you can reach your goals. I’m not quite there yet, but I think I’m on the right track to get there eventually to actually have my own card and travel week-to-week. Keep pressing through the good and the bad times, and eventually you’ll come out on top.”
Memphis’ 2020-21 schedule has yet to be announced.