by Zac Weiss
Coming at an earlier date this year due to a new tour qualifying system, golf is back in the Pittsburgh area as the Web.com Tour’s Mylan Classic returns to Southpointe Golf Club.
The event located near Washington, Pa., costs $25 to attend for the whole tournament, which starts Thursday. The Web.com Tour is comprised of golfers attempting to gain a spot in the season-ending top 25, which assures them a spot on the PGA Tour next year.
Southpointe Golf Club measures 6,951 yards, but what it may lack in distance is countered by quick greens and a largely hilly course.
These kinds of courses are home for Whee Kim. Kim comes in ranked 28th after missing a few cuts in a row, but the 20-year-old from South Korea feels right at home, even if it is his first time in Pittsburgh.
“I love this course because I have a lot of experience (playing) up, down, up, down sloping courses because in Korea golf courses are only in the mountains,” Kim said. “I like this course.”
Speaking of experience, Kim despite his young age has already teed it up with some familiar names as he went toe to toe with Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler at the 2011 Korean Championship and placed third. Kim played with Fowler the last two rounds of that tournament and was impressed with their consistency. Although he did not win, Kim did say that the experience was good for him.
Another person who has had some intriguing experiences is amateur Max Homa. Homa received an exemption to play this week due in large part to his success playing at California (Pa.) University. He won the NCAA individual title for California and also had a chance to play the U.S. Open this year, missing the cut by three strokes at Merion near Philadelphia.
“Playing in front of so many people was new to me,” Homa said. “It was definitely a change but hitting balls with Tiger and Rory is pretty special.”
Homa has not turned pro yet as he wanted to compete in the Walker Cup, which he called “the pinnacle of amateur golf.” The match-play team event takes place in early September and Homa will turn pro following the event.
Perhaps what Pittsburgh sports will like about Homa was that he was born into a house where his mother was a Philadelphia Eagles fan while his father was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. He ended up siding with the black and gold and hopes the Steelers revert back to their winning ways this season.
“I’m hoping for good things this year, we had a rough year last year,” Homa said. “We lost Mike Wallace, but we’ll be alright. We’ll figure it out, we always do.”
The Web.com Tour has been known for its low scoring. Three golfers have shot 59 on tour this season, including Russell Knox, who accomplished the feat July 26. Because of this, it may be tough to pick a winning score this week, but it can be assured that the number will be well below par. Kim was brave enough to venture a guess.
“I’m looking at 18 to 20 under being the winning score this week,” Kim said. “I saw last year’s cut line here was two under par and I think it will be about the same this year.”
My pick: Although it would be easy to pick Steve Wheatcroft because of his vast experience with the course, I am going to go with Kevin Kisner. Kisner won the inaugural Mylan Classic. He has placed no lower than seventh here and has played in all three previous events. He knows the course and, despite a recent slump, understands what it takes to win this tournament.