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East County Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 1 month ago

Catch big-time talent at the LECOM Suncoast Classic

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The event will feature plenty of players who have tasted PGA Tour success, or are headed that direction.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

Anticipation is building for the second LECOM Suncoast Classic, to be held at Lakewood National Golf Club on Feb. 13-16. As fans prepare to witness some of the world's top golf talent, here are 10 names to watch. 

1 — Mike Weir

Mike Weir is the only Canadian to win a major tournament. Photo courtesy PGA Tour Media.

The 49-year-old left-hander will make his return to Lakewood Ranch after playing in the inaugural LECOM Suncoast Classic in 2019. Weir, a Canadian, won the 2003 Masters Tournament and spent 110 weeks inside the top-10 in the world between 2001 and 2005. He is still the only Canadian to ever win a professional major tournament. He is playing via a special exemption for players who are 48 or 49 and headed to the Champions Tour.

2 — Curtis Thompson

Thompson, the 27-year-old brother of LPGA Tour superstar Lexi Thompson, took most of 2019 off from competitive golf to caddie for his sister before taking co-medalist honors at Q-School in December, earning him fully exempt Korn Ferry Tour status in 2020. He finished tied for third at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at Baha Mar, held Jan. 19-22. 

3 — Ollie Schniederjans

Ollie Schniederjans was once the top-ranked amateur player in the world. Photo courtesy PGA Tour Media.

A three-time All-American at Georgia Tech, Schniederjans was once the top-ranked amateur golfer in the world, but has bounced between the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour. The 26-year-old, known for never wearing a hat on the golf course, finished tied for 12th at the 2015 British Open (nine under par). 

4 — Charlie Saxon

Saxon, 26, is one of the most enigmatic players on the Korn Ferry tour. In 2019, Saxon had eight top-25 finishes in 24 starts, but also missed nine of 24 cuts. He is known for his tremendous distance off the tee. 

5 — Alex Čejka

Alex Čejka escaped communist Czechoslovakia at age 9. Photo courtesy PGA Tour Media.

Čejka’s path to professional golf was a difficult one. He fled communist Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) at age 9 as a refugee, traveling with his father by foot, by train, by swimming and by bike until settling in Frankfurt, Germany. The 49-year-old has 13 professional wins across various tours, with his lone PGA Tour win coming at the 2015 Puerto Rico Open (seven under par). Like Weir, he will soon be eligible for the Champions Tour.

6 — Philip Knowles

Knowles, who was raised in Bradenton, will make his first start on the Korn Ferry Tour at the Suncoast Classic. The 23-year-old competed full-time on the Mackenzie Tour in 2019, where he made eight cuts in 11 starts, including four top-25 finishes. 

7— Braden Thornberry

Braden Thornberry won the Fred Haskins award in 2017. Photo courtesy PGA Tour Media.

Thornberry, 22,  won 11 tournaments while in college at the University of Mississippi and won the individual 2017 NCAA Championship. He also won the 2017 Fred Haskins Award as the top male collegiate golfer. He proved he could play with the best of them at the PGA Tour’s 2017 FedEx St. Jude Classic, where he finished tied for fourth (eight under par). 

8 — D.A. Points

Points, a three-time PGA Tour winner, will make his first Korn Ferry Tour start since 2016 at the Suncoast Classic. The 43-year-old Points’ last PGA Tour victory came at the 2017 Puerto Rico Open (20 under par). He has earned almost $12 million on the PGA Tour.

9 — Stephan Jaeger

Stephan Jaeger owns the lowest single round in Korn Ferry Tour history (58). Photo courtesy PGA Tour Media.

Jaegar has bounced between the PGA Tour, where he has three top-25 finishes, and the Korn Ferry Tour, where he carded a 58 during the first round of the 2016 Ellie Mae Classic. The 30-year-old Jaeger’s 58 still stands as the lowest single round in the Korn Ferry Tour’s history, and his week-long total of 30-under 250 still stands as the lowest tournament score in the Tour’s history. 

10 — Augusto Nunez

Nunez, a 27-year-old from Argentina, is on a streak of 17-straight PGA Tour-sanctioned stroke play events where he finished in the top 20. That streak includes two wins and two runner-up finishes, all on PGA Tour Latinoamérica. If he can maintain that consistency on the Korn Ferry Tour, he will be playing on the PGA Tour soon.mi

I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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