PGA Tour

Players to watch at the BMW

If you are going to the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD-Synnex this week you may already have picked out the celebrities you hope to see, but you should remember there is also a professional golf tournament going on at the same time you are star gazing.

The Korn-Ferry professionals will have scorecards in their pockets, and their scores will count.

You can enjoy the tournament without knowing much about the players, but here is some background on some players of interest to local golf fans and how they got to play in the BMW.

Jacob Bridgeman and Trent Phillips are two of the top-8 graduating college players in the country, and both are from Inman, SC. Bridgeman earned a spot in the BMW field by finishing second in the PGA University ranking, while Phillips finished 8th. Only the top five from the rankings are guaranteed spots on the Tour, and the three-time SCGA Junior Player of the Year was not invited to play in his hometown event.

Local golf fans, who closely follow the sport, have been anticipating the BMW as being the first event for two home-grown college stars to make their professional debuts, but Clemson grad and ACC Champion Jacob Bridgeman and Georgia grad and two-time first team All-American Trent Phillips got their pro careers started last week in Raleigh.

Inman’s Bridgeman Monday qualified into last week’s Rex Hospital Open and flirted with the top-10 before finishing tied for 29th. The ACC Player of the Year has full status on the Korn-Ferry Tour for the rest of the season.

Phillips, who is also from Inman, won the Williams Cup last fall and with the win came an exemption into only the Rex Hospital Open last week.

Phillips missed the cut in Raleigh and the only way he could play in the BMW is with a sponsors’ exemption. The tournament did not extend an invitation to Phillips.

The tournament had eight sponsor exemption available to award. According to the Korn-Ferry Tour website, veterans Steve LeBrun and Brian Richey received two exemptions in the category of Tour members not already exempt.

The tournament committed three unrestricted exemptions to the winners of affiliated qualifying events.

Central Florida’s Johnny Travale won the Carolina Collegiate last fall at the Carolina Country Club to earn a BMW exemption, but the Canadian’s successful college season caught the attention of the RBC Canadian Open, and he will play in the PGA Tour event in his home country this week rather than the BMW.

West Point grad and Army veteran Marcus Plunkett won the host club’s qualifying tournament to play in the BMW tournament. Plunkett will start on #10 at Carolina on Thursday at 1:34. (GolfClub Photo)
Willy Wilcox won the Fire Pitt Collective tournament at Goat Hill Park in Oceanside, California to win an exemption to play in the BMW. Wilcox will start at Carolina on #1, Thursday at1:34.(Twitter photo)

The BMW’s other unrestricted exemptions were granted through two other affiliated qualifying tournaments and were given to Marcus Plunkett and Willy Wilcox.

Plunkett, a West Point grad and Army veteran, won the host club’s Thornblade All-Star qualifying tournament.

Last year, former Clemson golfer Carson Young won the same event, and his start in the BMW tournament helped him gain full time status on the Korn-Ferry Tour.

Wilcox won the Fire Pit Collective 8-player tournament at Goat Hill Park in Oceanside, California to receive his exemption.

Former Clemson golfer and 2011 US Public Links champion Corbin Mills from Easley was a late addition to the BMW field. He will start on the first hole at Thornblade on Thursday at 1:34 (GolfClub Photo)

Travale’s late decision to pass on the BMW spot apparently opened an opportunity for former Clemson golfer Corbin Mills to be added to the field.

Mills, who was the 2011 US Public Links champion, currently has conditional status on the PGA Canada Tour.

Other BMW sponsor exemptions were given to former Long Beach State star Hunter Epson, PGA Tour Latinoamerica and Canada veteran Colin Featherstone and Scottish golfer Jimmy Gunn, who has played in several BMW tournaments, earning his best finish, a tie for 18th in 2007.

The featured pairing in the first two rounds has the top two PGA Tour University graduates playing together.

Second ranked Bridgeman and the top player from the final rankings #1 Pierceson Coody from the NCAA Champion Texas Longhorns will tee off at Thornblade at 8:02 on Thursday.

It is a pairing made for TV, but unfortunately it may be almost finished when the TV broadcast starts on Thursday.

According to the Korn-Ferry Tour website the Golf Channel coverage will broadcast part of the first round on Thursday from noon to 2:pm. The coverage on Friday will be on tape airing from 8:30 to 10:pm.

Saturdays coverage will also be on tape from 10:pm to Midnight and Sunday’s taped final round will air from 8:pm to 10:pm.

The BMW has to share Golf Channel time this week with The Curtis Cup, The Shop-Rite LPGA Classic, The Champions Tour and the RBC Canadian Open.

There is a live streaming option that can be accessed at

The BMW will have a very strong field of regular Korn-Ferry Tour players, including 20 of the top-25.

Last weeks winner of the Rex Hospital Open, Davis Thompson, will try for a second straight win when he starts play at Thornblade from the 10th tee at 11:55 on Thursday.

Carson Young, is 16th in “The 25” and will be the highest ranking golfer with local ties in the field.

The Pendleton native won the third event of the season with his victory at the Panama Championship.

Young will begin play on Thursday from the tenth tee at Carolina at 12:06pm.

USC grad Mark Anderson won the 2013 BMW championship and has a 2nd place finish in the Club Car championship so far this year.

Anderson will also start on the 10th tee at Carolina at 12:28pm.

Clemson grad and two-time SCGA Amateur champion Carson Young is the top-ranked Korn-Ferry Tour player with local ties to the Upstate. (Korn-Ferry Photo)

Former Clemson golfer Sam Saunders is in the BMW as a former fully exempt PGA Tour member. He has a 6:45am start at Thornblade Thursday.

Auburn grad Trace Crowe from Easley tees off at 8:13 on number 10 and Winthrop grad Taylor Dickson will start on number 1 at 12:39 both on Thursday at Thornblade.

DJ Trahan, who won high school championships at Dorman and a national championship at Clemson, will start at Thornblade on #1 at 11:55 Thursday.

South Carolina grad Caleb Proveaux starts on number 10 at Thornblade, Thursday at 1:01.

In addition to Bridgeman and Coody two other 2022 PGA Tour University graduates will be in the field. Third ranked Logan McAllister and fourth ranked R.J. Manke will be playing professionally after distinguished college careers.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available at the event website

Tee times for the First round

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