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Defending Champion – Smylie Kaufman

The PGA Tour wrap around season continues at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin.  The defending champion is Smylie Kaufman who came from a seven-stroke deficit with a 10-under 61 to prevail at TPC Summerlin last year to claim his first ever PGA Tour Victory.

tpc

HOLE #5 PAR 3, 197 YARDS @TPC Summerlin

I had the opportunity to be in the final group with Smylie when he won his first Web.com event in 2015.  First hand experience showed how much potential the kid had on a very tough golf course.  He has the length off the tee and great touch around the greens to give himself a few more opportunities to make birdies.  I would anticipate the good vibes from his first win will carry over and he will have a strong showing as the defending champion.

 

Cody Gribble watches his drive on the ninth tee box during the final round of the Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament in Jackson, Miss., Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

2016 Sanderson Farms Championship Winner

Last weeks winner of the Sanderson Farms Championship Cody Gribble is riding a wave of great golf over the last month.  If you look back about 5 weeks ago Cody did not even have a PGA Tour Card.  In fact leading up to what would be the final Web.com Event,  he had missed 4 cuts in a row and was well on the outside looking in.  He posted a T5th finish at the Web.com Tour’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in September to put himself inside the TOP 25 to earn his tour card.  Due to the weather of hurricane Matthew along the Florida Coast, the Tour Championship on the Web.com Tour was cancelled and the TOP 25 after three events were awarded PGA Tour playing privileges for 2016-2017.

What made the situation sour for some and great for others is some guys needed that last event to give themselves a chance to get inside the 25.  The others inside the bubble didn’t have to worry about falling outside and got a big reprieve.  Cody was on the good side of the bubble at T24 due to his strong final round 67 the week prior.  The possible reality of him falling outside the 25 was very high if he played poorly and to not have to play that final event i’m sure took some weight off of his shoulders.

Nothing has been more evident than the way he has played in the first two PGA Tour events of this season.  He started his season finishing T8 which is a good amount of money and points to start your season with.  As a rookie you always want to get off to a good start and take some pressure off having to play well week in and week out.

Cody did the best thing you can do and came away with the victory in just his 8th PGA Tour start.  Since he won so early in the season and had moderate status on the tour, he now gives himself two seasons plus this season to play on champions status.  In a matter of five weeks his golf career has changed on a whole new level.

To win you need to make birdies and play well.  Let’s see who will go and add to their birdie total for the season and bring home a victory.

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Go out and make some birdies.

Michael Romano Jr.

 

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