MIDDLETOWN, R.I. – His coaches and teammates call him “Zebo,” but you can remember the name Ryan Zabroske for now.
Zabroske, who walked on to the Georgia Southern roster four years ago, finished second in the individual race at this week’s Adams Cup in Rhode Island, shooting rounds of 70-70-69 to finish two shots back of UConn’s Jeb Buchanan, the only other play to shoot under par all three rounds.
“I played well today,” Zabroske, of Alpharetta, Ga., said of his best career finish. “I played OK last week (at the SpringHill Suites Collegiate, where he shot 74-73-73), but just couldn’t make any putts. I hit it the same this week, I just made some putts.”
After a “real good summer” that included a win at the Savannah Match Play championship and a tie for sixth at the Ogelthorpe Invitational, Zabroske opened his final college season with a tie for fifth at Golfweek’s Conference Challenge, the first top 5 of his career.
“I just wanted to continue the way I was playing in the summer,” he said.
Coach Larry Mays said Zabroske is one of the hardest workers he’s ever coached.
“He’s worked harder than probably than any guy I’ve had the last five years,” said Mays, in his 10th season with the Eagles. “(PGA Tour player) Aron Price was the last guy that had that kind of work ethic here, and he’s done alright.”
Like many college golfers, Zabroske played in a bunch of local junior tournaments and a handful of American Junior Golf Association events during his high school years.
“But I got a little burnt out,” he said. Zabroske basically packed the clubs away his senior year.
So when he tried to walk on to Georgia Southern’s team the following fall, Mays told him to “go play in some tournaments” and come back the next year.
Zabroske listened and Mays, who had sent Zabroske a recruiting letter during his junior days, gave him a spot.
“He’s just worked his way up from there,” Mays said.
Mays has a walk-on tryout every year, but has only taken three walk-ons in his 10 years.
Zabroske played in a few events his first year and has quietly worked his way to becoming one of Mays’ go-to guys as a fifth-year senior.
“He’s by far been the best of the three,” Mays said. “He’s just worked and worked.”