Visit Knoxville Open returns with plenty of past champs and new venue

The Visit Knoxville Open is a staple on the Korn Ferry Tour schedule, but it will have a new look this year.

Visit Knoxville Open returns with plenty of past champs and new venue

The Visit Knoxville Open is a staple on the Korn Ferry Tour schedule. It was one of the original four tournaments from 1990 that remains on the developmental tour schedule, and it’s back this year after being one of 10 tournaments postponed because of COVID-19 pandemic – only this time, it also features a new venue.

After 21 years at Fox Den Country Club, the Visit Knoxville Open moves to Holston Hills Country Club, a Donald Ross-design that opened in 1927. Holston Hills is ranked No. 2 on Golfweek’s Best 2021 list of top private courses in Tennessee. It also ranks No. 98 on Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses list for all layouts built before 1960 in the United States.

A strong field this week includes six of the top 10 players in the Korn Ferry Tour points standings, including No. 1 Stephan Jaeger. Additionally, Jaeger is a past champion of the Visit Knoxville Open, having won by three shots in 2018.

Related: Five things to know about Visit Knoxville Open

Other notable past champions include three-time PGA Tour winners Jeff Maggert (1990) and J.J. Henry (2000) as well as Chris Kirk, who was born in Knoxville and who has charted an inspirational rise back from a personal struggle with alcoholism. Kirk was runner-up at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January and won the King & Bear Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour last summer.

The field includes 59 past Korn Ferry Tour winners with 88 total wins, led by Jaeger and Martin Piller, who each have six.

Jaeger, a four-time winner during his college career at Chattanooga, has much at stake at Holston Hills. A third win in this Korn Ferry Tour super season, after prevailing at the Albertsons Boise Open in August and the Emerald Coast Classic in April, would give Jaeger immediate promotion to the PGA Tour. Jared Wolfe, No. 12 in the points standings, is in the same boat.

The Tennessee ties don’t end with Jaeger. Among the 156 players in the field, 10 played college golf in the state. One of those men is Monday qualifier Bogle Larue, a Knoxville local who is currently a senior at Belmont University.

Source : Golf Week More   

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Jon Rahm on golfers skipping Olympics: 'I don't blame them. They're not making it easy'

Jon Rahm plans to compete in the Olympics, but he understands why Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott intend to skip it.

Jon Rahm on golfers skipping Olympics: 'I don't blame them. They're not making it easy'

Spain’s Jon Rahm plans to represent his country in the Olympics, but he understands why players such as Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott have announced they intend to skip the competition in Saitama, Japan, from July 29-Aug 1.

“The Olympic committee are not making it very easy for us to choose it, simply because up until not too long ago we couldn’t go to our site or tournament hotel until Wednesday and we had to stay in the Olympic Village until then,” he said. “As I understand from what I been told there is at least one- to two-hour drive to the golf course. That’s a lot of time to be in the car going to and coming back from the Olympic Village, and then you can only go to the hotel on Wednesday. Your family is not allowed. You’re not allowed to go to any other events. There are just so many restrictions.”

The Olympics were postponed last year due to the global pandemic. There have been continuing concerns whether conditions have improved enough for the Olympics to be played later this year. To avoid a COVID outbreak in the Olympic Village, strict policies have been announced.

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Rahm, 26, said he also understood why a player such as Danny Lee would decline his spot in the field to concentrate on retaining his PGA Tour card.

“I can understand why a lot of people are prioritizing the FedEx Cup events and great golf events,” said Rahm, noting that the golf in Japan falls in between the British Open and the WGC. “The Olympics are relatively new for the golf, and I don’t blame them,” he said. “In my case I want to play. It’s an absolute dream of mine to be an Olympian.”

He added: “I’ve been able to win championships representing Spain as an amateur in almost every imaginable level, and to bring back the gold medal would be something amazing.”

Rahm, who is the No. 3-ranked golfer in the world, is a lock to make the Spanish team. He said that despite the inconveniences he wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“Yeah, I want to play,” he said. “They’re not making it very easy, but I do want to play.”

Source : Golf Week More   

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