Ten European Tour Members this week make their US PGA Championship debuts at Oak Hill County Club, all hoping to emulate the eye-catching performance of 2012 rookie David Lynn.
Lynn, who sneaked into last year’s US PGA field thanks to a world ranking of 96, was not only making his championship debut at Kiawah Island in 2012 but his first appearance on American soil, and duly went about taking full advantage of the invitation in remarkable fashion.
The Englishman carded consecutive rounds of 68 at the weekend to finish second to runaway winner Rory McIlroy, with it claiming a cheque for € 712,914 and propelling his name from South Carolina across the world.
This year, ten more European Tour hopefuls are in Rochester, New York, looking for an equally stunning first foray into the season’s fourth and final Major Championship, namely Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Jonas Blixt, Mikko Ilonen, Scott Jamieson, Brooks Koepka, Richie Ramsay, Brett Rumford, Peter Uihlein, Jaco van Zyl and Marc Warren.
Uihlein, the 2010 US Amateur Champion, has had an excellent season after starting out with limited exemption following a 26th place finish in the 2012 Challenge Tour Rankings.
The American won his first European Tour event at the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI in May to improve his playing opportunities and has rarely looked back since, finishing tied 12th in the following week’s flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and tied tenth at both the BMW International Open and Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
This week Uihlein completes the Major set in Rochester, having previously contested in the Masters Tournament, the US Open and The Open Championship.
“It’s really exciting to be here,” said Uihlein. “It’s obviously been a great season so far and this makes it even better. It’s also good to be making my PGA debut with Brooks as we’ve both been travelling along the same road with playing in Europe and doing pretty well there. Having him here too makes it that bit more special.
“We had a great practice round playing against Phil (Mickelson) and Rickie (Fowler) this morning. Unfortunately we lost on the final hole but I have to say the course is amazing and considering it’s only Tuesday the crowds are awesome so I’m really excited to get going on Thursday.”
Winner of the opening event of The 2013 Race to Dubai, the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa last December, Jamieson plays in his third Major Championship this week – and first in America – and says that alone is a sign of how far he has come.
“I think they call this the strongest field in golf, so to even be a part of that is a great achievement and shows the progress in my career,” said the Scotsman.
“I’m delighted to be here. I played 18 holes yesterday and nine this morning and it’s tough out there, level par would be a good score but I’m going to give it my best shot.”
Jamieson, who finished 59th and 53rd respectively in The 2011 and 2012 Race to Dubai after graduating from the Challenge Tour, finished tied third at the Alfred Dunhill Championship the week following his maiden victory in Durban and second at the Volvo Golf Champions in his next start.
Despite a more mixed season since then, Jamieson is 21st in The Race to Dubai and is wholly positive about his development.
“There are always going to be ups and downs in a career, even within a season, but that’s golf,” he continued. “The first third of the season was very good with the win and the other high finishes, debuts at the WGC-Cadillac over here and the Volvo World Match Play in Bulgaria, and a second appearance at The Open so it’s been a season of firsts.
“I’m going to finish this year higher than I have done before on The Race to Dubai, just as I did the year before this and the year before that, so hopefully I can keep making that progress.”