Texas ex Hammer, Hossler gets off to a good start on Sea Island

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ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (TBEN) — Cole Hammer would have been happy with pars in the cold and wind at Sea Island. He finished with more birdies than he imagined on Thursday for an 8-under 64 and the low score to par after one round of the RSM Classic.

“It was really cool to look at the top (of the leaderboard) and see my last name there,” said Hammer.

Cool was applied more literally to the field, with temperatures in the 50s and it felt even colder with the ocean breeze. This was a day for wool hats, layers of long sleeves and mittens. As usual at this tournament, that didn’t stop the low scores.

Hammer, who graduated from Texas in May, shared the low score with another Longhorn alum, Beau Hossler, whose 6-under 64 came on the Seaside guest course, playing about two harder-to-pair strokes.

“He makes me look average,” said Hossler when he finished his round and Hammer was already 8-under with three holes to play.

Hammer’s big run ended with a bad swing that sent him into the trees to the right of the par-5 eighth fairway. He took a penalty drop and finished with a bogey.

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England’s Callum Tarren also had a 64 on Seaside, while Ben Griffin had a 7-under 65 on the Plantation course. Griffin had a big chance to win in Bermuda three weeks ago to a raw nine. In the last official PGA Tour event of 2022, he may get another one.

For Hammer, a good start was exactly what he needed.

He has performed on major stages before, qualifying for the 2015 US Open in Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old. He missed the turn.

He did fine in a few Korn Ferry Tour starts after coming from Texas. The PGA Tour was a different matter as Hammer found himself trying too hard and getting too impatient. The result was six consecutive missed cuts.

He thought he was on his way to another in the Houston Open last week, his home tournament, when he opened with a 74.

“I missed my first six in a row. It was a pretty dark period,” Hammer said. “I felt like my game was close enough. I just put so much pressure on myself at the start of the tournament. I did it again in Houston and then came out with a 65 to make the cut.

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“That really boosted my confidence.”

It carried over to the RSM Classic where Hammer received a sponsorship waiver. He only has conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour, so a good week will go a long way. Otherwise, it’s qualifying or writing for sponsorship waivers on Monday.

“Hopefully my writing skills will carry over from my communications degree which I just completed in May,” he said.

For now, he wants to see what he can do in the next three days.

Hossler is another player who first made a name for himself at the US Open as a teenager. That was 10 years ago at Olympic Club, where at age 17 he was within four shots of the lead going into the final round. He shot 76 on the last day and didn’t even get low amateur. That went to another teen from Texas – Jordan Spieth.

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Hossler is now entering his sixth PGA Tour season and is still chasing his first win. The closest he came was losing as a rookie to Ian Poulter in a playoff at the Houston Open.

Even more impressive than his 64 at Seaside in the cold and wind was to keep bogeys off his map, scrambling four times for pars.

“It’s a tough course, even with no wind and decent temperature,” said Hossler. “It was excellent to shoot the song I shot in these conditions.”

Webb Simpson had a 219-yard hole-in-one with a 4-hybrid off Plantation on his way to a 5-under 67. Harris English opened with a 4-under 68 off Plantation, a good start to an important week.

English missed five months due to hip surgery. He is number 52 in the world, and a big week could help secure the top 50 for a Masters invite by the end of the year.

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