E-Notes – January 11, 2011
Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els are the three players in the Sony Open in Hawaii field this week that have won both legs of the PGA TOUR Hawaii schedule. Last week’s winner Jonathan Byrd will be paired with Furyk and Els on Thursday and Friday at the Sony Open in hopes of matching the accomplishment. With a win this week, Byrd would also join Els as the only player to win the events back-to-back in the same season.
With his playoff win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Jonathan Byrd became the first player since Tiger Woods (1999 World Golf Championships-American Express Championship and 2000 Mercedes Championships) to win consecutive starts in playoff fashion. Byrd captured his final event of 2010, the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
In addition to a return visit to the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions for his victory last week, Jonathan Byrd earned exemptions into the 2011 Masters Tournament (PGA TOUR Regular Season victory) and 2011 U.S. Open (multiple PGA TOUR wins since 2010 U.S. Open).
Twenty-six of the 35 2011 PGA TOUR rookies are scheduled to compete in the Sony Open in Hawaii field. Below are details on the 2011 rookie class:
- 29 of the players are under the age of 30
- 15 of the rookies 25 or younger.
- 11 of the rookies have never played in a PGA TOUR event.
- The youngest rookie is Bio Kim, who turned 20 last August. Players that played the Sony Open the year Kim was born (1990) that will also play in 2011 include: Billy Mayfair (T6); Dave Eichelberger (T43); Davis Love III (T43); and Fred Funk (MC).
- Jamie Lovemark, 22, was the youngest-ever winner of the Nationwide Tour Player of the Year last year. He surpassed Stewart Cink (1996) and Nick Flanagan (1997), who both turned 23 the year they won the award.
- Since 2005, the largest rookie class prior to 2011 was 28 (2009).
- The 35 players are divided as such:
- Q-School – 19
- Nationwide Tour – 13
- 2010 Non-member money list -- 3
Twenty-four members of the Nationwide Tour Class of 2010 will open their 2011 PGA TOUR seasons this week at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Thirteen of the 24 are PGA TOUR rookies.
Ryan Palmer, who won the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii by one stroke over Robert Allenby, is seeking to become just the fourth player to successfully defend a title at the Sony Open in Hawaii – Hubert Green (1978-79), Corey Pavin (1986-87) and Ernie Els (2003-04).
Looking for a fantasy golf pick this week? In nine career starts at the Sony Open, Charles Howell III has top-5 finishes: 2010 (T5); 2009 (4); 2007 (T2); 2005 (T3); and 2002 (T4).
Six-time Champions Tour winner Dave Eichelberger shot his age (67) September 22 to win the Aloha Section PGA Professional Championship and a spot in next week’s 2011 Sony Open in Hawaii. Eichelberger, who has more than $7.5 million in career earnings, last played the Sony Open when he was 60, after Monday qualifying. He has a total of 1,246 combined starts on the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour, second behind Miller Barber who has 1,292 combined starts. Charles Coody lies third on the list with 1,070 combined starts. Fred Funk, a Champions Tour fan-favorite, is also in the Sony field.
The Australasian leg of international qualifying for the 2011 British Open is being played over 36 holes at Melbourne's Kingston Heath Golf Club this week. Just three spots in the Open, to be played at Royal St George's in mid July, are on offer for the field of 51. Champions Tour professional Peter Senior will be one of the many recognizable names vying for a spot. Senior, winner of last month's Australian PGA championship, would love another crack at Royal St George's - in 1993 he finished tied fourth behind Greg Norman in the Open. Senior also earned one of the three available spots for last year’s Open, eventually finishing tied for 60th at St. Andrews.
Six players are scheduled to make their first appearance at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualala (Jan. 21-23) - Russ Cochran, David Frost, Gary Hallberg, Larry Mize, Ted Schulz and Rod Spittle.
Nationwide Tour alumni are one for one to start the new season with Jonathan Byrd (St. Simons Island, GA/Clemson) having captured the 289th PGA TOUR title by a former Tour player at last week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Last year, Nationwide Tour alums won a record 28 times on the PGA TOUR, bettering the previous mark of 23 in 2009.
The impact of the Nationwide Tour on the PGA TOUR continues to grow as evidenced by the increase in the percentage of Nationwide Tour alumni who will be competing on the PGA TOUR this year compared to the last two years:
2011 73.9 percent
2010 70.7 percent
2009 67.5 percent
The Nationwide Tour kicks off its 2011 season next month with two events in Latin America -- the Panama Claro Championship (Feb. 24-27), followed by the Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open presented by Samsung (March 3-6).