Tuesday, December 7, 2010

From NGA Hooters Tour To PGA Tour

Thirteen (13) From Hooters Tour Jump To PGA Tour

Michael Thompson: From Hooters Tour POY to PGA Touring Professional

Current Members Jim Renner, Ben Martin, Will Strickler and Joe Affrunti earn cards as well

By Paul Warner

Myrtle Beach, S.C.—Monday, December 6, 2010—The event affectionately referred to by the players as "Groundhog Day" (because of it's similarity to the repeating theme of the Bill Murray movie classic) has come to a close. If playing six rounds in as many days with your future on the line wasn’t enough, competitors in PGA Tour Qualifying School this year were faced with rain, frigid temperatures and howling winds over the final few rounds in Winter Garden, Fla. But for a group of battle-tested NGA/Hooters Tour alumni, none of it mattered.

Current NGA/Hooters Tour members Michael Thompson (Vestavia Hills, AL), Jim Renner (Plainville, MS), Ben Martin (Greenwood, SC), and Will Strickler (Gainesville, FL) will join fellow member Joe Affrunti (Crystal Lake, IL), who earned his card by finishing in the top 25 this season on the Nationwide Tour, on PGA Tour next season after having successfully navigated their way through Q-School.

Thompson, the 2010 NGA/Hooters Tour Player of the Year, joined the NGA/Hooters Tour in 2008 after having a stellar career at the University of Alabama. But success didn’t come easy at the next level.

“It was a reality check,” Thompson said of his first foray as a professional. “As an amateur I had built up a little confidence that I should be able to compete with these guys, and then I had a letdown. But I wasn’t just going to give up.”

After struggling through his first year on the NGA/Hooters Tour, Thompson found his stride in the 2009 Bridgestone Winter Series, winning once and posting four finishes of T7 or better in eight events. The former U.S. Amateur runner-up carried that momentum into the 2010 NGA season, where he racked up six top-10 finishes, four top-5s and his first Hooters Tour win en route to POY honors. 
“I played on the Hooters Tour this year and had a great year; I loved it,” Thompson told the Golf Channel after earning his card. “So when I got [to Final Stage], I was happy to be here because no matter what, I was moving up to the next level."

That next level looked to be the Nationwide Tour as Thompson reached No. 17 at 9-under par and one shot off the cut for a PGA Tour card. Thompson missed the fairway, but he flushed a 3-wood to get home in two, drained a long, left-to-right putt for eagle (the PGATour.com shot fo the day) and finished T16. Now Thompson will get to compete on the PGA Tour against fellow NGA/Hooters Tour Player's Of The Year Chad Campbell and Zach Johnson.

Jim Renner

Renner, who finished seventh on the NGA money list this season, would also need to take advantage of the par-5 17th to get inside the number. Renner, a two-time NGA winner, left his second shot just short of the green, but he chipped to within a few feet and made birdie to move to 10-under par. But his late-round theatrics weren’t over.

Renner found himself in the rough on the final hole and blocked by a group of trees. He hit a sweeping hook around the trees that landed about 15 feet from the hole. From there, Renner two-putted to finish T22 and earn his PGA Tour card. 
Martin, a current NGA/Hooters Tour member, wasn’t able to hold on to medalist honors, but the former Clemson University star, whose best showing this season on the NGA/Hooters Tour was T10, finished T2 after ending the six-round marathon at 17-under par.

Strickler, a current NGA member, started the day T4 and appeared a lock to earn his PGA Tour card. However, the former University of Florida player struggled in the inclement conditions and reached No. 18 at 10-under par. Strickler made bogey, but his stumble dropped the cut line to 9-under par and earned him a trip to the PGA Tour in 2011.

Of the 29 players that earned PGA Tour cards on Monday, 13 of them were either current or former NGA/Hooters Tour players. In addition, 23 past and present NGA/Hooters Tour player finished between T30 and T74 and will be fully-exempt on the Nationwide Tour next season.

The NGA/Hooters Tour is the 3rd largest men’s 72-hole professional golf tour in the country behind the PGA and Nationwide Tours and boasts an impressive list of alumni.

Stewart Cink, the 2009 British Open Champion; Lucas Glover, the 2009 US Open Champion; Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters Champion; Shaun Micheel, the 2003 PGA Champion; Ben Curtis, winner of the 2003 British Open; Jim Furyk, winner of the 2003 US Open; Lee Janzen, a two-time US Open winner; John Daly, a British Open and PGA Champion; Tom Lehman, winner of the British Open; David Toms, a past PGA Champion; Chad Campbell, the 2003 Tour Championship winner; Vaughn Taylor, a two-time Reno Tahoe Open winner; and Craig Perks, winner of the TPC, tested their mettle on the NGA/Hooters Tour before tasting success on golf’s grandest stage. All told, the NGA/Hooters Tour’s alumni have an incredible 12 “Majors” to their credit.

The NGA/Hooters Tour has helped hundreds of professionals acquire their PGA, Senior PGA, and Nationwide Tour cards. In fact, 48% of the players that earned their 2010 PGA Tour card, and 53% of the players that earned full exempt status on the Nationwide Tour started their careers on the NGA/Hooters Tour.

For more information, visit www.NGAHootersTour.com.

Final Stage—Winter Garden, Fla. 
Full PGA Tour Status
T2 William McGirt -17
T2 Ben Martin -17
T6 Brandt Jobe -14
T11 Scott Stallings -12
T11 Nate Smith -12
T11 Gary Woodland -12
T16 Michael Thompson -11
T16 Kent Jones -11
T16 Matt McQuillan -11
T22 Alexandre Rocha -10
T22 Jim Renner -10
T22 Justin Hicks -10
T27 Will Strickler -9 
Full Nationwide Tour Status
T30 Tommy Biershenk -8
T30 J.J. Killeen -8
T30 Joe Affrunti -8
T30 Camilo Benedetti -8
T36 Ryan Armour -7
T41 Will MacKenzie -6
T41 Stephen Gangluff -6
T41 David Branshaw -6
T41 Michael Letzig -6
T50 Dustin Garza -5
T50 James Nitties -5
T59 Danny Wax -4
T59 Elliot Gealy -4
T64 Shaw Jasper -3
T64 Jim Herman -3
T64 Martin Flores -3
T64 Scott McCarron -3
T64 Jason Schultz -3
T74 James Sacheck -2
T74 Blake Parks -2
T74 Todd Bailey -2
T74 Travis Hampshire -2
T74 Matthew Giles -2
Via HootersTour.com: From NGA Hooters Tour to PGA Tour 

No comments:

Post a Comment