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Airmail: Milledgeville duo heading to Cornhole World Championships

Chris Burrell and Tye Smith hold a cornhole tournament at Duke's Lounge & Dawg House in Milledgeville, Ga Thursday July 6. /(Luke Hetrick, WGXA)

MILLEDGEVILLE, GA -- America's favorite backyard game has changed the lives of two Milledgeville residents.

“People don’t realize corn hole is as big as it is and I didn’t until a few years ago,” said Lake Country Cornhole star Tye Smith.

Smith along with fellow player Chris Burrell give most of their free time to their favorite sport.

“At this point I almost eat sleep and breathe it because we play together so much," Smith said.

In just a few short years, Smith and Burrell have become big stars in Georgia's cornhole scene. The journey began with some simple fun.

“October ’14 we decided hey let’s put on a tournament and see if anybody shows up and get all of our friends together," Burrell said.

Each week, the tandem and other players meet at Duke's Lounge & Dawg House in Milledgeville competing in blind draws and weekly tournaments. Every rep counts in cornhole with the margin for error being so extreme.

“In my first regional, I went 0-2 and got dusted 21-0 and I thought I was good," Burrell said.

Smith says those reps come in handy down the road.

“It’s like anything," Smith said. "You practice more, you’re going to play better.”

Their success led them to top-20 finishes at the ACO Georgia Cornhole Championships last month. The next stop for the duo, a trip to Owensboro, KY for the world championships. The two will compete individually and in doubles.

“Tye’s fun. We communicate well together. That’s the whole key is communication when we’re playing doubles.”

Even with their success on the Peach State scene, Smith and Burrell are aware they have an uphill battle at the world championships.

“We’re still small fish in a big pond,” Smith said. “It’s unbelievable to see some of these guys play because they don’t miss.”

Burrell and Smith are excited for their opportunity later this month. To those who doubt the sport, Burrell has a simple message.

“People say cornhole and they look at you funny," Burrell said. "If it was named something else I’d play it. Play anyway. The name is nothing.”

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