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Cole Hammer makes his PGA Tour debut as a pro after Texas title

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Seven years ago at Chambers Bay in Seattle, Cole Hammer had one of the best coming out parties in golf. Not only did he qualify for the 2015 US Open at 15, the third youngest at 15 to do so, but he shot 77 in the first round and beat Tiger Woods by three shots that day. With his youthful smile and his precocious game, Hammer Time was born.

“I was a kid, I didn’t know what I was doing. It was like a circus. Going out on the shooting range with guys like Tiger, Rory and myself was completely in awe. There were some streets that I couldn’t reach. So it was all about the experience,” he recalled. “When I was 15 years old, I was like, you know, I could win this. But I think I quickly realized or now realize that I had no fighting chance.”

Despite high expectations, the 22-year-old Hammer has put together a decorated amateur career, including being awarded the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the world’s best amateur golfer in 2019; two-time American Walker Cupper; US Amateur Four-Ball winner (with Garrett Barber); Big-12 conference singles champion in 2021; and recently helped Texas win the NCAA men’s tag team championship. He more than lived up to expectations.

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Cole Hammer celebrates making a birdie putt on the 18th hole to win his Foursomes match at the 2021 Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla., on Saturday, May 8, 2021. (Photo: Scott Halleran/USGA)

Now is the time to take the next step in your burgeoning career. Hammer turned pro and is playing on a sponsor’s exemption this week at the Travelers Championship.

“I’ve been watching the PGA Tour on TV for a long time,” he said. “I want to say that it has been my dream to one day compete here and this is one of the first tournaments I remember seeing. I remember thinking, man, that golf course looks absolutely perfect. And the atmosphere, I mean, somehow there’s always a dramatic ending here.”

Hammer played at the US Open three times as an amateur, as well as the British Open once among a total of eight starts on the PGA Tour, including the Vivint Houston Open, his hometown event, last fall. He made his pro debut last week on the Korn Ferry Tour at the Wichita Open and missed the cut. He started unfavorably with a double bogey on his first hole, but recovered with a couple of birdies.

“I’m glad I had that start under my belt before I came here. I feel like I’ve gotten myself into a pressure situation now, so I’m excited to use that experience,” she said. “I learned a lot about myself and how I should prepare for tournaments. I’ve been in college for four years and have basically been told how to prepare every week. And now that I’m on my own, I need to do it, well last week was a good way to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t.”

Hammer is part of the second class of college seniors to earn status to play this summer through the University PGA Tour. He finished fifth in the standings and earned Korn Ferry Tour status for the remainder of the season and is also exempt from the final stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. Hammer said he felt pressure to finish in the top 5 to have more options early in his pro career.

“I hadn’t been to Q-School before, but it seemed a bit like that to me, considering I was competing with a few other guys in the NCAA. Luckily I snuck into the top 5 and got those Korn Ferry starts,” she said. “It is so difficult to go out on the Tour and to have a place to play directly after leaving university is very good. On Tour, I think this program will continue to flourish for years to come and giving top college players a place to play right away is amazing.”

Ready or not, he sure looks ready, it’s about to be Hammer Time.

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