What we’ve learned halfway through the LOCALiQ Series
September 08, 2020
By Staff, PGATOURLA.COM
- September 08, 2020
- Cooper Musselman, left, smiles to Bryson Nimmer after edging him out in a playoff for the title of the fourth event of the LOCALiQ Series at Auburn University Club. (Photo by John Wild)
The LOCALiQ Series has reached the halfway point of its season—four tournaments down, four to go—which means it’s time assess how things have unfolded so far. Here are nine points (or half of a golf course) that breakdown some of what’s happened.
9. Things Look a Little Different
This week, Bryson Nimmer, Isaiah Salinda and Akshay Bhatia, all LOCALiQ Series players, are playing in the PGA TOUR’s Safeway Open as sponsor’s exemptions. One thing we know: They won’t be wearing shorts once Thursday’s first round begins, but they will be employing caddies. When officials conceived of the LOCALiQ Series, with all tournaments played in the Southeastern part of the U.S., in the summer and early fall, they decided it would be appropriate to allow players to wear shorts because of the heat and humidity. Also, because of COVID-19 considerations and to help players keep expenses down, there would be no caddies: players could either carry their own bags or push or pull them on a cart. In all four tournaments, Nimmer has elected to carry his bag, and all he’s done is win twice and finish runner-up a third time.Players are wearing shorts while carrying their golf bags during the LOCALiQ Series events. (Photo by John Wild)
8. These Guys Can Go Low
Speaking of Nimmer, he started the whole go-low trend on the LOCALiQ Series when he shot a final-round 62 in the opening event, the Alpharetta Classic. Standing on the tee at the par-4 18th hole at The Golf Club of Georgia, he was 8-under for the day and possessing a two-shot lead. He sealed the deal by holing his approach shot from 135 yards for eagle, winning by four shots and shooting a 62. Standing right next to Nimmer in the fairway was Hayden Shieh, who shot a 10-under 62 of his own (eight birdies and an eagle) a day earlier. Alex Smalley set the Series standard a couple of weeks later when he fired a second-round 60 at The Classic at Callaway Gardens. That week, Eric Steger opened with a 62, and two other players, Tommy Cocha and Patrick Cover, shot 63s. Last week at The Invitational at Auburn University Club, Nimmer and Smalley were up to their old tricks, both shooting 63s—Nimmer in the first round and Smalley in the second.Smalley had 12 birdies for his impressive 60 during the second round of The Classic at Callaway Gardens. (PGA TOUR)
7. We’ll See Them at Augusta National
Two players who will play in the Masters Tournament in November have made their presence felt in LOCALiQ Series tournaments. China’s Yuxin Lin, the winner of the 2019 Asia-Pacific Amateur that earned him his second invite to the Masters, shot rounds of 67-69-65 to tie for fourth at the season-opening Alpharetta Classic. Last week in Auburn, 2019 U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree tied for 33rd at The Invitational at Auburn University Club. In addition, Alvaro Ortiz, a 2019 Masters competitor by virtue of his 2019 Latin America Amateur win, finished third at Auburn, a stroke out of the Cooper Musselman-Bryson Nimmer playoff.Yuxin Lin, left, after his win at the 2019 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. (Photo by AAC). Andy Ogletree, right, after his victory at the 2019 U.S. Amateur. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images).
6. Some Pretty Challenging Layouts
In the first four LOCALiQ Series tournaments, players have teed it up at a pretty stout group of venues: The Golf Club of Georgia, Echelon Golf Club, Callaway Gardens Resort and Golf Club and Auburn University Club. The Golf Club of Georgia’s Lakeside Course previously hosted a PGA TOUR Champions Tournament (Nationwide Classic, where Hale Irwin won twice), and Callaway Gardens was the long-time site of the PGA TOUR’s Buick Challenge that featured winners such as David Duval, Steve Elkington, Fred Funk, Chris DiMarco and Jonathan Byrd. Golf rates Echelon Golf Club No. 11 among 400 Georgia golf courses, and Auburn University Club is the home course to the Auburn University men’s and women’s golf teams.
5. High Drama
Yes, there was Nimmer’s hole-out on the 54th hole in the opening tournament that put a bow on top of his Alpharetta Classic victory. Nimmer was also involved in some pretty solid heroics at the Auburn University Club. Nimmer seemingly had the advantage over Musselman, facing a 17-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole, while Musselman was off the green with a wedge in his hand, 33 feet from the cup. All Musselman did was drain his chip, leaving Nimmer to make his putt to extend the playoff. Naturally, he did, and onto the fourth playoff hole they went, where Musselman finally outlasted Nimmer. A week earlier, at Callaway Gardens, Hayden Shieh and Stoney Crouch were in a playoff. After a drive in the rough on the first playoff hole, an approach from the rough that flew the green and an indifferent chip, Shieh walked up and rolled in his par putt from 20 feet. Crouch couldn’t make his seven-foot birdie effort, and the playoff continued, with Crouch eventually prevailing two holes later.
Shot of the Day 🔥 🔥@ChillinChico's hole out for eagle on the 18th at the Alpharetta Classic.— PGATOURLA (@PGATOURLA) August 7, 2020
What a way to get your first victory on the #LOCALiQSeries.
Congratulations Bryson!! pic.twitter.com/ADHrPy7pEM
In each of the last two tournaments, it’s taken seven extra holes to determine a winner, with Crouch winning in three holes at Callaway Gardens and Musselman taking the title a week later at Auburn University Club. The victories by Crouch and Musselman were both the first multi-round professional wins for each.
3. Mr. Second Place
That what Shieh called himself after losing in a playoff to Crouch. It was tournament No. 2 where Shieh had seemingly done enough to win only to come up short. He sat on the clubhouse patio after finishing the Callaway Gardens tournament. He had posted his 20-under score and was waiting to see if anybody could pass or match him. Fifty yards from Shieh’s vantage point, Crouch calmly rolled in a nine-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to also get to 20-under. Crouch then went on to defeat Shieh in the three-hole playoff. Three weeks earlier, in the season-opening Alpharetta Classic, Shieh took the second-round lead with his 62 and shot a final-round 67. He played his final 47 holes bogey-free and still lost by four to Nimmer. “Not much more I can do. I have to tip my hat to Bryson,” Shieh said. As a consolation, Shieh, second in the Southern Company Swing made up of the first four events, earned a $2,500 bonus to Nimmer’s $7,500.Hayden Shieh has recorded two runner-up finishes and two missed cuts in four LOCALiQ Series starts. (Photo by John Wild)
2. Hungry to Play
More than one player admitted to assuming 2020 would be a lost season once the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Series-China canceled their seasons. Playing opportunities continued to look grim when PGA TOUR Latinoamérica postponed its schedule, also due to COVID-19 issues. Then in the early part of summer, the PGA TOUR announced the LOCALiQ Series, and International Tour players suddenly had a season for which to prepare. “Personally, I’m just happy to be playing. Honestly, I didn’t think we were going to get to play this year, so for the TOUR to scramble something out of nothing is going above and beyond,” said PGA TOUR Series-China player Shotaro Ban. Added Nimmer about his feelings once he learned the Mackenzie Tour had canceled its season, “It went from a moment where we didn’t think we would be playing at all to, OK, we have something.”Having a competitive series of events to compete in, has been a blessing for the players from the PGA TOUR's International Tours. (Photo by John Wild)
1. Don’t Let Bryson Nimmer’s 2019 Mackenzie Tour Season Fool You
Nimmer has far and away been the best LOCALiQ Series player, with two victories and a runner-up finish. Yet the South Carolina native didn’t have his best stuff in his first season on the Mackenzie Tour, in 2019. The first-team All-American out of Clemson wasn’t necessarily disappointed in his rookie year in Canada, but he did call it “underwhelming” as he finished 37th on the Order of Merit. Nimmer chalked up his first-year-as-a-pro challenges to too much golf—four tournaments back to back to finish his college career and then an immediate start to the Mackenzie Tour season. Nimmer flew directly to Canada after the NCAA Championship and played three more events before taking a week off. “It taught me a lot and is something super valuable that I will never forget—to take a break and step back,” Nimmer said.Nimmer has been a man on fire for the past few weeks. (Photo by John Wild)