Wednesday, May 6, 2015

SwingThought Tour Exemptions into BMW Charity Pro-Am awarded

Wade Binfield, Mark Blakefield, Albin Choi, Thomas Sutton representing SwingThought Tour in Greenville

(Myrtle Beach, S.C.) – When the Tour, the official path to the PGA TOUR, descends upon Greenville, S.C. May 14-17 for the 2015 BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, some of the best golfers in the world will be competing at the Thornblade Club, Green Valley Country Club, and The Reserve at Lake Keowee.

Among those will be four professionals who earned their way by competing on the SwingThought Tour (formerly the NGA/Hooters Tour) this season. While the SwingThought Tour does not have any official affiliation with the PGA TOUR or Tour, from time to time local Tour events grant the SwingThought Tour special event only exemptions that the SwingThought Tour in turn grants to their players determined on a competitive basis. In fact the SwingThought Tour has received 24 such exemptions since 2012, including event exemptions into the PGA TOUR Reno-Tahoe Open and Sanderson Farms Championship. The SwingThought Tour was awarded event exemptions into the 2014 and 2013 BMW Charity Pro-Am Championships. The BMW Charity Pro-Am awarded the SwingThought Tour four (4) exemptions into this year’s event. If the performance by 2014 exemption winner Dominic Bozzelli, who finished T9 in last year’s event, is any indication it would be wise to pay attention to the four players the SwingThought Tour will be sending to Greenville for this year’s event.

Those four players include two 2014 Tour members, two multi-time winners on the SwingThought Tour, two 2015 SwingThought Tour winners, and one upstart rookie with what looks to be a bright future ahead.

The first player to secure his spot in this year’s event was SwingThought Tour rookie Thomas Sutton out of Montgomery, Ala. The former University of Alabama-Birmingham star started the 2015 season on fire, posting top 10 finishes in his first two events, an amazing feat for any rookie against the level of competition found on the SwingThought Tour. Sutton was awarded his exemption after being tied for the 36-hole lead at the SwingThought Tour’s 2015 season opening event and winning a playoff against former Mississippi State star and co-leader Chad Ramey. Sutton currently sits 24th on the 2015 SwingThought Tour Money List.

The second to secure his exemption was Surrey, British Columbia’s Albin Choi. Choi, a three-time All-American and 2013 ACC Player of the Year at NC State, was a member of the Tour in 2014 but did not earn enough to retain his status for 2015. With a renewed determination, Choi dominated the SwingThought Tour early on by winning the season opening Valdosta event (thus earning a spot in the 2015 United Leasing Championship) and then winning the next event, the Cardinal Classic at Diamondhead to earn his spot in this year’s BMW Charity Pro-Am. Choi tried to play his way into this year’s event, and thus not needing the exemption, by finishing inside the top 25 at Evansville but had to settle for a T47 finish. Choi finished T50 in last year’s event so he’ll be looking to add to his earnings as he tries to match the magical 100th place total of $49,067 from last year’s Tour money list and stay on the top tour for the rest of the season. Choi currently sits at the top of the 2015 SwingThought Tour Money List.

The third to earn their spot into this year’s event was former Clayton State star Wade Binfield. Binfield, out of Fayetteville, Ga., has dominated the mini-tour circuit for the past couple of years, winning multiple money titles and victories. This however is his first year competing full time on the SwingThought Tour and he made his presence known almost immediately. Binfield made the first two cuts of season and then, right on time, won the third event of the season, the Pine Classic at Diamondhead Country Club, to earn a return trip to the BMW Charity Pro-Am where he missed the cut in 2014 in his lone career Tour start. Just like Choi, has the game and ability to win at any level and he’s dying to redeem himself at this year’s event and stay on golf’s number two tour. Binfield is currently 6th on the 2015 SwingThought Tour Money List.

The final player to earn their spot in this year’s event, like Choi, was also a member of the Tour in 2014. Mark Blakefield, out of Maysville, Ken., is a three-time winner on the SwingThought Tour and earned conditional status on the Tour for 2014. However, just like Choi, Blakefield, faced with limited starts, was unable to retain his status for this year. The former University of Kentucky star earned his spot in this year’s event via a T2 finish at the Ocala Marion County Classic in April. Blakefield did not get an opportunity to compete in last year’s event but just like Choi and Binfield, he’ll be looking to add to his professional career wins total and, with his past experience in the winner’s circle, we would not be surprised at all.

This year’s BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation take place May 14-17 at Thornblade Club, Green Valley Country Club, and The Reserve at Lake Keowee in Greenville, S.C. In the 23 year history of the tournament , SwingThought Tour alums have won an astounding 16 times with Mark Anderson (2013), Nick Flanagan (2012 & 2007), Garth Mulroy (2011), and Justin Bolli (2010) being the most recent. In 2014, the SwingThought Tour presence was felt as well with, in addition to Bozzelli, his fellow 2014 SwingThought Tour members Justin Lower and David Skinns also finished T9. 2012 SwingThought Tour co-Rookie of the Year Jonathan Randolph finished solo 2nd while 2013 Player of the Year Jon Curran and 2013 Rookie of the Year Blayne Barber, both on the PGA TOUR now, finished tied for 3rd.

SwingThought 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 Robert Streb, Ben Martin, Kevin Streelman, Michael Thompson, Ted Potter Jr, Gary Woodland, Russell Henley, Mark Wilson, George McNeill, Scott Stallings, Scott Piercy, and many more. More recently 89 of the 150 players competing in the 2014 Tour Q School Final Stage were past players on the SwingThought Tour.

For more information on the new SwingThought Tour visit or call 800-992-8748.

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