RSM Classic leaderboard, scores: Former college stars Cole Hammer, Justin Suh cruise in Round 1 at Sea Island

While this time of year is not necessarily known for stars and superstars showing out on the PGA Tour, often interesting stories still emerge, and it seems like that’s going to be the case this weekend at the RSM Classic. Former Texas star Cole Hammer leads and former USC star Justin Suh is not far behind after Round 1 at Sea Island, Georgia, in the last PGA Tour event of the fall.

Hammer went out and shot an 8-under 64 on the Plantation Course by making birdie on half of his holes. At 8 under, he leads by one over Ben Griffin with Suh one back of Griffin. Hammer hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation, which helps, but even the former No. 1 amateur in the world was a bit surprised by how many putts fell on a cold day near the Atlantic.

“I was almost blacked out there for a little bit,” said Hammer. “It went by in a heartbeat, but at the same time was a long day. It was cold and, like I said a little bit ago, I had very low expectations. And I’m glad I did because it was a tough day. out there, there’s no question. I figured … par was a good score today and I found myself making putts for birdie early on and then just kind of kept going from there, but what a day.”

Hammer, who has conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour but had never made a cut on the PGA Tour until last week at the Houston Open, clearly carried some mental and perhaps physical momentum into the RSM from his T27 finish in Houston.

“This summer was tough on the PGA Tour,” said Hammer, who is playing just his 15th career event on the Tour. “I had some good finishes on the Korn Ferry, but I was batting zero on the PGA Tour. I needed to get that monkey off my back. To do that in my hometown event in Houston was huge for me. I was telling my parents , but the first tee in Houston was like the most nervous I’ve ever been, just with the hometown crowd.

“It’s kind of crazy since I’ve played in Walker Cups and stuff. But anyways, I basically told myself I’ll never be that nervous again. I just got comfortable after that and saw myself shoot a good round on Tour and now I believe that I can do it.”

Hammer talked about how he thought this summer you had to play perfect golf on the PGA Tour to have any success, but it’s been nice to see that’s not actually the case. You can make some bogeys, you can have a few bad holes and still contend on the PGA Tour. This is a common theme for players as they mature. In particular, Max Homa has discussed this idea quite a bit throughout his career. Hammer is a good player and has had a fascinating career. He played in the 2015 US Open as a 14-year-old before becoming a star in Austin, Texas. At 45-1 to win the tournament after Round 1, he can easily play the “nobody believes in me” card, but the pedigree is strong, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he stayed in the mix until Sunday.

Suh, another former No. 1 amateur in the world is coming off a tremendously successful 2022. After putting together 10 top 10s on the Korn Ferry Tour this year, Suh was named that league’s Player of the Year this week, and celebrated by dropping a 6-under 66 on the field at the Plantation Course.

“I think just being in the groove of this, being I think the third week on the road definitely helps,” Suh ​​said. “I think confidence-wise, maybe subconsciously [winning the KFT Player of the Year] does [help]. Yeah, I mean, it still feels great, but I think for performance, I think just being on the road for three weeks, it’s kind of getting in the groove of the golf game.”

Suh has star written all over him. Though he’s taken longer to develop than some of his counterparts, he was part of a group including Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa that turned pro just after the 2019 US Open. He’s made three consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour and will be a tough out over the next 54 holes.

A win this weekend would quietly make him one of the more intriguing young players to watch going into 2023. Here’s a look at the top 10 after Round 1 at the RSM Classic.

Round 1 leaderboards

  • 1. Cole Hammer: -8
  • 2. Ben Griffin: -7
  • T3. Beau Hossler: -6
  • T3. Callum Tarren: -6
  • T3. Justin Suh: -6
  • T6. Stephan Jaeger: -5
  • T6. Brian Harman: -5
  • T6. David Lingmerth: -5
  • T6. Webb Simpson: -5
  • T6. Chris Gotterup: -5
  • T6. Henrik Norlander: -5
  • T6. Alex Smalley: -5
  • T6. Keith Mitchell: -5
  • T6. Russell Knox: -5
  • T6. Harry Higgs: -5
  • T6. Andrew Putnam: -5

Putnam is actually the new favorite at 10-1, followed closely by Seamus Power (-4) at 12-1 and Brian Harman and Beau Hossler at 14-1. Hammer is 45-1, and Suh is 30-1 after their solid starts on Thursday.

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