Storylines: Exuma welcomes Tour to kick off 2017 season
January 06, 2017
By Web.com Tour staff
- January 06, 2017
- The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay is slated to begin on Sunday morning. (Scott Turner/PGA TOUR)
28th WEB.COM TOUR SEASON TO BEGIN ON SUNDAY
The Web.com Tour will kick off the 2017 season January 8-11 with the first of back-to-back events in The Bahamas at the Greg Norman-designed Emerald Reef Course at Sandals Emerald Bay. For the first time in Tour history, each of the season’s first two events – The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay and The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club (January 22-25) – will feature Sunday-Wednesday tournament rounds, with all four rounds broadcast live on Golf Channel. Notable players in the 132-man field at Great Exuma include five-time winner PGA TOUR winner Jonathan Byrd and 2014 TOUR Rookie of the Year Chesson Hadley. All told, there are 15 former TOUR winners in the field. World Golf Hall of Fame member Greg Norman will hit the tournament’s ceremonial opening tee shot at 6:45 a.m. on Sunday, January 8. Norman, who designed the Emerald Reef Course in 2003, will host a player Q&A during the tournament’s Pro-Am party on Saturday night.
2017 TO FEATURE 26 TOURNAMENTS IN SIX COUNTRIES
The 2017 Web.com Tour schedule features 26 total tournaments, which is an increase from the 25 that were on the 2016 calendar. The Tour will visit five countries outside of the United States, including The Bahamas, Colombia, Panama, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The $17,775,000 is the most single-season prize money since 2010, with all four Web.com Tour Finals events slated to offer $1 million in purse money for the fifth straight year. Highlights of the schedule include a return to the Omaha, Nebraska, market with the Pinnacle Bank Championship (July 17-23) and the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship kicking off the Finals for the first time, followed by the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco, the DAP Championship and the Web.com Tour Championship, which will return to Atlantic Beach (Fla.) Country Club after Hurricane Matthew forced the cancellation of the event’s 2016 edition.
COLE LOOKS TO CONTINUE FAMILY TRADITION ON WEB.COM TOUR
After finishing T23 at the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament in December to earn status for 2017, Eric Cole will make just his second career Tour start when he begins play at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay on Sunday. The 28-year-old is the son of former PGA TOUR winner Bobby Cole and former LPGA Tour player Laura Baugh, and will be looking to follow in the family’s footsteps this year on Tour. Cole missed the cut in his only prior Web.com Tour start at the 2016 Rex Hospital Open. Bobby Cole notched 28 top-10 finishes during his TOUR career, including a win at the 1977 Buick Open.
SBS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS TO FEATURE THREE 2016 GRADS
Following the holiday break, the 2016-17 PGA TOUR season resumes with the SBS Tournament of Champions this week in Maui. The tournament features players with TOUR victories over the last calendar year, including 2016 Web.com Tour graduates Cody Gribble (Sanderson Farms Championship), Rod Pampling (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open) and Mackenzie Hughes (The RSM Classic). Two past winners of the SBS Tournament of Champions are in the field at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic – Jonathan Byrd (2011) and Daniel Chopra (2008).
FEDEXCUP STANDINGS LACED WITH WEB.COM TOUR ALUMNI
Nine former Web.com Tour players open 2017 inside the top 10 in the FedExCup, including Justin Thomas (2), Pat Perez (3), Mackenzie Hughes (4), Brendan Steele (5), Rod Pampling (6), Cody Gribble (7), Scott Piercy (8), Russell Knox (9) and Luke List (10). Of the nine, Thomas, Perez, Steele and Knox will join Gribble, Pampling and Hughes in the field at Kapalua Resort.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
6 – The number of holes at Sandals Emerald Bay’s Emerald Reef Course that play alongside the Atlantic Ocean.
24 – The total number of countries represented on the 2017 Web.com Tour membership roster.
89 – The number of international players to hold membership on the 2017 Web.com Tour.
2017 WEB.COM TOUR MEMBER TO WATCH
Ben Taylor – 24 – England
Taylor was a key member of LSU’s 2015 NCAA Championship team, where he went 3-0 during the event’s match play portion to spur the Tigers on to their fifth national championship and first in 60 years. During the standout performance, he scored the winning points in both the semifinal (v. Georgia) and final (v. USC) matches to secure the championship title.
Taylor spent his first two years of college at Nova Southeastern University, where he was one of the top Division II players in the country, earning “Player of the Year” honors in 2012 and first-team “All America” honors in 2013 before transferring to Baton Rouge. During his tenure in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he led the school to the 2012 NCAA Division II National Championship, which set the foundation for him to become the first player in college golf history to compete on both Division I and II national championship teams.
The 24-year-old finished T19 at Web.com Tour Q-School in December, and will be making his first career start on Tour this Sunday in The Bahamas. Taylor competed on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada in 2016, where he posted two top-25 finishes in 11 starts.