November 23, 2015

Anyone who follows golf closely knows there’s a 1 and 1a of Rhode Island golf: Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade. We considered breaking the tie by naming little-remembered Lawson Little as best in the Ocean State. Little was born in Newport and accomplished the unprecedented feat of winning back-to-back U.S. and British Amateurs, in 1934 and ’35. During his pro career, he won eight times, including the 1940 U.S. Open. But Lawson honed his skills in Northern California and is so closely identified with that region that he can’t claim Rhode Island. That honor goes to Faxon. Though he was born in New Jersey, Fax was raised in Barrington and still lives there. He won the Rhode Island Amateur in 1979 and ’80 and won consecutive New England Amateurs in 1980 and ’81. While at Furman in South Carolina, he won the Haskins Award in 1983 as collegiate golf’s top player. Younger fans might know him best for his new broadcast duties with Fox, but it wasn’t long ago that one of the Tour’s greatest putters compiled eight wins on the PGA Tour, plus two Ryder Cup appearances. Bristol native Andrade won four times on the PGA Tour and recently won his third Champions Tour event. He also owns a Rhode Island Open title, as does Faxon. But Fax gets the nod on the back of his Tour titles.