The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Other Sports

July 7, 2013

Who are these guys at the top?

Third round scoreboard

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — The Greenbrier Classic had the big names — Phil Mickelson, Billy Horschel, Bill Haas, Bubba Watson, Tom Watson, Ken Duke, John Daly, Justin Leonard, etc. — that sell tickets and create a buzz.

But for the third straight year, most of the names at the top of the leaderboard are about as well known to outsiders as The Mason Jar in downtown White Sulphur Springs or April’s Pizzeria just outside of town.

The most common question in the galleries during today’s final round won’t be “Where’s Phil?” — Mickelson missed the cut for the third straight year and headed home Friday night — but “Who’s that?”

But don’t worry. I’m here to help. Save your $10 bill for a fried green tomato sandwich and some peach tea and leave the official program on the rack. There’s no need to wear down the search engine on your iPhone, either.

Here’s a look at some of the more obscure names and faces you’ll need to know if you’re headed out to The Old White TPC today to take in what should be another fantastic finish.

Perhaps you can even impress your buddies by throwing out a few fun facts about the guys in the hunt.

Jonas Blixt — The 29-year-old Swedish golfer, who now resides in Jacksonville, Fla., played college golf at Florida State before turning professional in 2008.

Blixt earned his PGA TOUR card in 2012 after finishing fifth on the Nationwide Tour money list in 2011.

Blixt won his 19th PGA TOUR start, winning by one stroke at the 2012 Open. He’s made just eight cuts in 16 events this season, his best finish tied for 11th at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

Steven Bowditch — Another Australian, the 30-year-old has had huge success in golf, winning the 2001 Australian Amateur, picking up two Nationwide Tour wins in 2005 and 2010 and winning three times on the PGA TOUR of Australasia, but he’s also had a long, public battle with severe depression. He’s become a spokesman for beyondblue, an Australian non-profit organization that supports depression and mental disorders.

This year, he’s played in 16 PGA TOUR events and made seven cuts. His best finish was a tie for 29th at The Honda Classic in March.

Russell Henley — Born in Macon, Ga., Henley played college golf for the Georgia Bulldogs and won the 2010 Haskins Award as the most outstanding player in college golf.

A return to a familiar course led to his first big win, when he captured the 2011 Stadion Classic at UGA as an amateur.

He turned pro in 2011 and won two Tour events last year — the Chiquita Classic and the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open. He finished third on the money list and earned his PGA TOUR card for this season.

Henley has performed well as a rookie. He became the first PGA TOUR rookie to win his debut in 12 years when he finished 24-under-par at the Sony Open.

Henley has had five other top 25 finishes this year, and he’s made 12 cuts in 17 starts.

Morgan Hoffmann — When spectators see the name Hoffmann at the top of the leaderboard, they often confuse it with Charley Hoffman, the long-haired former UNLV golfer with a pair of PGA TOUR wins under his belt.

But Morgan Hoffmann could soon become another well-known name on the TOUR. A resident of Jupiter, Fla., and a member of the 2009 Walker Cup and Palmer Cup teams, Hoffmann played collegiately at Oklahoma State. He was ranked No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings at one point in 2009, and he turned professional in 2010.

Hoffmann gained his PGA TOUR card by finishing 19th on the money list during the 2012 Tour. His best finish during his rookie season on the PGA TOUR was a tie for fifth at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, and he’s finished in the top 10 in each of his last two starts — tied for ninth at the Travelers Championship and tied for eighth at AT&T National.

Matt Jones — Another former Arizona State golfer, the 33-year-old Australian was a first-team All-American before turning professional in 2001.

He finished seventh on the Nationwide Tour in 2007 and played his first season in “the big show” in 2008. He’s still looking for his first PGA TOUR victory.

This season, he’s played in 17 events and made 12 cuts. His best finish was a tie for sixth at the Memorial Tournament last month.

Bill Lunde — A member of the 1998 national championship UNLV squad, Lunde was born in San Diego, Calif., and now resides under the bright lights in Las Vegas.

Lunde turned pro right after his national championship win and made it to the Nationwide Tour in 2004 and 2005. Out of frustration, he gave up the game and spent a year working in sales and real estate.

He eventually got back into the game and made it back to the Nationwide Tour in 2008. He finished fifth on the money list that year, finally earning his PGA TOUR card 11 years after turning pro.

He won for the first time on the PGA TOUR the next season, capturing the Turning Stone Resort Championship by beating out J.J. Henry.

This is the 37-year-old’s seventh event this season, and he made the cut for just the second time.

Pat Perez — The 37-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., native, who played at Arizona State, is looking for his second win on the PGA TOUR, after picking up his first at the Bob Hope Classic in 2009.

An avid Philadelphia Phillies fan, Perez jointed the professional ranks in 1997. He’s played in each of the four Major Championships, a tie for sixth in the 2005 PGA Championship his best finish.

This year, Perez has played in 16 events and made 11 cuts. His best finish was a tie for seventh at the Tampa Bay Championship.

Daniel Summerhays — The undersized Utah native, who stands just 5-foot-8, is looking for his first PGA TOUR win.

After playing collegiately at Brigham Young University, the cousin of former LPGA Tour golfer Carrie Roberts turned pro in 2007 and won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational on the Nationwide Tour that year.

In 2010, Summerhays finished fifth on the Nationwide Tour money list and earned his PGA TOUR card. He struggled his rookie season but had some success in 2012, including a fifth-place finish in last year’s Greenbrier Classic.

This year, he’s played in 18 events and made half the cuts. His best finish was a tie for seventh at the Valero Texas Open.

There you go. Now you’re ready for a fun day of golf. Grab your sunscreen and a hat, and don’t forget your Sunday badge. Today should be a special one.

— E-mail: chuffman@ and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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