Golfers pay tribute to Johnson

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 3, 2007

This weekend a number of golfers will compete for the right to wear the green jacket at the Masters in Augusta, Ga., however at Greystone Golf Club last Wednesday and Thursday the best junior golfers in Alabama cared more about wearing the colors of a rival team, than competing for first place.

&8220;It’s not so much about the scores. It’s just an honor to be able to play here,&8221; said Michael Johnson, the younger brother of Bradley Johnson, who died in an automobile accident last March.

Spain Park High School hosted the Inaugural Bradley Johnson Memorial golf tournament last week at Greystone Legacy, impressing all who attended.

&8220;This has all the makings of a major. I’ve heard two or three of the boys say that putting these greens have to be like putting Augusta,&8221; Gary Randall told Bradley&8217;s father Hugh, after the first round was completed.

Bradley, the 2005 runner-up at the U.S. Junior Amateur, was considered by many to be one of the top golfers in the state and southeast at the time of his death, however he was remembered more last week as a person instead of a Spain Park golfer.

&8220;He was obviously a very talented young golfer, but he was way more than that. The impact he had on people of all ages, kids, adults, was just incredible. And he’s still having it through this event, which is really kind of neat,&8221; said Bradley&8217;s golf instructor and head instructor for Gresytone Hank Johnson.

Eighty-three golfers from across the state, including a few individuals from across the region, attended the tournament to honor their friend.

&8220;We’ve walked many a mile in the hot sun with these families and they have become extended family. I don’t know if they could be any closer if they were blood. It’s meant the world to us that they would pull their kids out of school to drive five hours. It was their choice and they didn’t have to be here,&8221; said Bradley&8217;s mother Shari.

The tournament showcased the best in the state in front of a number of college coaches, including Mike Griffin from Auburn, where Bradley had received an offer to play.

&8220;He was a very special young man who meant a lot to me and to our team members. We’re going to miss him, and we’re going to miss him for a long, long time. I’m so excited about this event, because in its first year it’s already big time and has the potential to grow even more,&8221; Griffin said.

Griffin&8217;s two signees for 2007, Hoover&8217;s Cory Gilmer and Briarwood&8217;s Rosson Anderson, finished in the top five at the tournament, but Anderson, who wears a Spain Park ribbon on his Auburn hat, cared more about honoring his friend than a top five finish.

&8220;I look around and there are people who didn’t play well at all, but there’s still a smile on their face, because we’re here playing in