Tuesday, January 20, 2015

20 Players to Watch on the SwingThought.com Tour in 2015

2015 SwingThought.com Tour Pro Series Player Preview; Top-tier Talent continues to Flock to the SwingThought.com Tour (formerly the NGA/Hooters Tour)

(Myrtle Beach, S.C.) – While widely recognized as the No. 3 Men’s Professional Golf Tour in the United States, most regard the talent on the SwingThought.com Tour (formerly the NGA/Hooters Tour) as second to none. In an age where other tours, outside of the US, are guaranteed spots into Q school and major tour events, it is the SwingThought.com Tour that, once again, proved to be the top place for professionals looking to develop their game and move up to golf’s highest levels. Five of the top 10 finishers on the 2014 season ending Pro Series Money List earned Web.com Tour status for the 2015 season including Player of the Year Dominic Bozzelli and fellow 2014 Pro Series winners Andy Winings, Patton Kizzire, Brian Richey, and J.C. Horne. Six past SwingThought.com Tour players also finished tied for 8th or better at Web.com Tour Qualifying School including Andrew Landry (2nd), Dustin Bray (3rd), Rhein Gibson (4th), Rick Cochran III (7th), and Stephan Jaeger and Matt Fast who tied for 8th.

In 2014 the SwingThought.com Tour also led the way, once again, with more major event exemptions than any other developmental tour in golf receiving four (4) into Web.com Tour events. The exemptions awarded were to Dominic Bozzelli for the BMW Charity Pro-Am and Price Cutter Charity Championship, Brandon Brown for the Utah Championship (won by Brandon Brown), and Tyson Alexander for the Knoxville News Sentinel Open. The SwingThought.com Tour has already been awarded six (6) event exemptions for the 2015 season including the United Leasing Championship, the Knoxville News Sentinel Open, and four (4) into the BMW Charity Pro-Am Championship with more on the way.

With only a limited number of positions available on golf’s top tours each year, some of the best golfers in the world not on the Web.com and PGA Tours compete on the SwingThought.com  Tour week in and week out, developing their game and looking for their opportunity to move up, whether it be through q school or a major event exemption. Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk, David Toms, Tom Lehman, and John Daly all won on the SwingThought.com Tour (the former NGA/Hooters Tour) before becoming Major Champions and household names. TOUR winners such as Robert Streb, Scott Stallings, Russell Henley, Scott Piercy, Ted Potter Jr, Mark Wilson, Michael Thompson, and many many more competed on the SwingThought.com Tour to prepare for their future successes at golf’s highest levels.

Inevitably there will be several members of the 2015 SwingThought.com Tour Pro Series who will find the same success as the many alumni before them. The 2015 Tour membership is made up of countless college All-Americans, All-Nicklaus and Palmer Cup team members, US Amateur, State Amateur and Open Champions, along with many SwingThought.com Tour veterans and past winners who have competed at golf’s highest levels. We could fill an encyclopedia series profiling this year’s membership and their accomplishments but, unfortunately, we have to narrow our list to 20. So, without further ado, here is our list of 20 players to follow on the 2015 SwingThought.com Tour Pro Series:

1. Dominic Bozzelli (Auburn; Pittsford, N.Y.) – What more can be said about Bozzelli? The 2013 NCAA National Champion runner-up dominated the SwingThought.com Tour in 2014 on his way to Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year Honors (a feat never accomplished before). The 4-time 2014 winner heads into 2015 with Web.com Tour status so his time on the ST Tour will be limited in 2015.

2. James White (Georgia Tech; Acworth, Ga.) - White was a three-time All-ACC selection, two-time All-American, Palmer Cup team member, and Byron Nelson Award Winner as the top college senior golfer in 2012. White has conditional status on the Web.com Tour so, like Bozzelli, his time on the ST Tour may be short in 2015.

3. Jimmy Brandt (Auburn; Auburn, Ala.) – The former Tiger has won countless victories on mini-tours throughout the country but became nationally known after winning Golf Channel’s Big Break Myrtle Beach. The former Web.com Tour member is as hot as anyone and is sure to be in contention for Player of the Year after all is said and done.

4. Jay Woodson (James Madison; Richmond, Va.) – An All-State High School Quarterback in Virginia, Woodson found his calling in golf. Woodson has more ST Tour wins than any other active member and became nationally known after defeating a field that included PGA TOUR members Tommy Gainey and Tony Finau in the inaugural Big Break Invitational. Woodson’s name seems to always be at or near the top of any event he plays.

5. Kevin Hall (Ohio State; Cincinnati, Oh.) – Call it a hunch but the former Buckeye seems to have turned the corner in his career. The former Big Ten Champion posted two top 10’s on the ST Tour in 2014 and narrowly missed out on making Final Stage at Web.com Tour Q School. Most will be looking for Hall to garner his first Pro Series win in 2015.

6. Ken Looper (New Orleans/LSU; Mandeville, La.) – The 2012 co-Rookie of the Year narrowly holed out from the fairway on 18 final day at the 2013 Zurich Classic, where he was in contention all week, and ultimately finished T21. He would then qualify into the Sanderson Farms Championship and finish T35 putting his TOUR earnings at over $73,000. Had his Zurich approach shot just moved an inch there’s a good chance he would be on the PGA TOUR right now. Looper will continue to just bide his time.

7. Will McCurdy (Auburn; Auburn, Ala.) – The 2013 Rookie of the Year runner-up proved he could win on the big tour in 2014 by grabbing the $25,000 top prize at the ST Tour’s Callaway Gardens event. McCurdy, who finished 11th on the 2014 ST Tour Money List, is now in his 3rd year as a professional and looking to become a multi-time ST Tour Champion.

8. Chas Narramore (Middle Tennessee State; Kingston, Tenn.) – The player who helped put Middle Tennessee State’s golf program on the map proved he could win at the pro ranks by taking the ST Tour’s signature Savannah Lakes Village Classic in 2012. After a year hiatus on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, the former Blue Raider, who finished 29th on the ST Tour Money List in 2013, will look to be back with a vengeance.

9. Brett Nymeyer (Nebraska;  Stratford, ON) – Nymeyer proved his medal by winning the Great Lakes Tour Order of Merit in 2014 and is looking to step up in 2015. The former Cornhusker has already announced his presence with authority to the followers of the SwingThought.com Tour by posting nine top 10 and five top 5 finishes on the ST Tour’s Winter Series as he prepares for the upcoming Pro Series season.

10. Paul Brown (College of Charleston; Hartsville, S.C.) – Brown is a literal living legend to those who follow the ST Tour Carolina Series. The former Cougar won 5 times in 2014 and has dominated the tour for years. Pro Series members will likely be none too happy to see Brown competing on the top tour in 2015 as he will most definitely be in Player of the Year conversation at year’s end.

11. Justin Martinson (Delaware; Avondale, Pa.) – The SwingThought.com Tour’s 2014 Most Improved Player Award Winner caught fire by winning the Albemarle Shootout and Gates Four events in back to back weeks. He would go on to post top 5 finishes in the final four events of the season following the wins. Martinson can be seen on the Golf Channel as a member of this season’s Big Break cast.

12. Christopher “Toph” Peterson (Utah State; Gilbert, Ariz.) – The Co-captain of the golf team during his senior year at Utah State, Peterson turned professional in 2011 and soon after started his own golf bag company. The former Aggie rose to prominence this past season finishing runner-up to Brandt on Golf Channel’s Big Break Myrtle Beach.

13. Logan Blondell (Georgia Southern; Lakeland, Fla.) – The former Georgia Southern star earned his first SwingThought.com victory in 2014 at Three Ridges Golf Club, the host of the Web.com Tour News Sentinel Open qualifier. Against a stout field Blondell hopes to prove if you can win in Knoxville, he can win anywhere. Blondell was named Southern Conference Freshman of the Year and won Player of the Year his sophomore season.

14. Crawford Reeves (Clemson; Greenville, S.C.) – The rookie out of Clemson started last season off right winning the ST Tour’s Members Only Shootout. The former Tiger would go on to stellar rookie season that, if not for Bozzelli’s unprecedented season, would have seen him take home Rookie of the Year Honors. Reeves has won twice on the Carolina Series since and will be looking to take home the Player of the Year title this season.

15. Jack Newman (Michigan State; Des Moines, Iowa) – It’s taken the 2008 US Am Publinks Champ a little longer than he hoped but it looks like 2015 could be his year. The former Spartan was named the SwingThought.com Tour’s Most Improved Player in 2013 and followed that up with a top 5 finish in Albany and a runner-up in Lakeland last year before joining PGA TOUR Canada. New man is back to try and stake his claim as one of the ST Tour’s best.

16. Nick Palladino (Rochester; Highland Heights, Ohio) – The first Rookie to make this year’s list, how could we not mention Palladino as one to watch in 2015? The former Liberty League Golfer of the Year earned his place as an All-Nicklaus team member during his time at Rochester. The former Yellow Jacket has had four top 5 finishes on the ST Tour Winter Series as he gets prepared to make his run at Rookie of the Year on the Pro Series.

17. Seth Fair (Indianapolis; Brownsburg, Ind.) – AT one time Fair was known as the best ST Tour player without a win “yet”. However, the 2013 Indiana State Open Champion quickly took his name out of that running by winning the inaugural NGA Loudmouth Central Florida Classic. The former Indy Greyhound had four top 5 finishes in 2014 and will be looking for his first Pro Series win in 2015.

18. Ryan Brehm (Michigan State; Mt. Pleasant, Mich.) – Brehm, who took time off to help coach at his alma mater, was once known for being the longest hitter on the SwingThought.com Tour. However, after his time away, the former Spartan came back in 2014 with a vengeance earning his first ST Tour win and posting nine top 25 finishes.

19. Taylor Pendrith (Kent State; Richmond Hill, ON) – The second rookie to make this year’s list made his name by winning the Porter Cupp in 2013. Pendrith’s favorite golfer is ST Tour alum/MAJOR Champion Ben Curtis however he has drawn more comparisons to another ST Tour alum and MAJOR Champion John Daly due to his length off the tee.

20. Christian Heavens (Georgetown College; Fairview Heights, Ill.) – The First Tee of St. Louis product won America’s Heart as part of the Golf Channel Big Break Myrtle Beach cast this past season. Heavens has posted wins on various mini-tours throughout the southeast but this will be his first season competing full time on the SwingThought.com Tour. He has had success in ST Tour events before so don’t be surprised to see his name at the top of a few leader boards this season.

The SwingThought.com Tour is still taking memberships for the upcoming 2015 Pro Series as well. Players may join by contacting the SwingThought.com Tour offices at 800-992-8748. The 2015 schedule consists of 16 $140,000 Guaranteed Purses events and 6 54-hole Q-School/Qualifier Prep events played primarily throughout the southeast and southwest running February through August. The sixteen (16) guaranteed purse events and over $2.5 million in purse money paid out will by far be the largest for a Pro Series in the United States for 2015.

SwingThought.com Tour alumni have won an amazing 16 Major Championships and include 2012 and 2014 Masters champion Bubba Watson, 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley, 2010 PGA TOUR Player of the Year and 2003 US Open Champion Jim Furyk, 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson, two-time U.S. Open Champion Lee Janzen, British Open and PGA Champion John Daly, and recent PGA Tour winners such as Michael Thompson, Ted Potter Jr, Gary Woodland, Russell Henley, Mark Wilson, George McNeill, Scott Stallings, Scott Piercy, current FedExCup Points Leader Robert Streb, and many more.

For more information on the new SwingThought.com Tour visit swingthought.com (new site coming soon), ngatour.com, or call 800-992-8748.

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