07 Mar 2024 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Chalmers to make Champions Tour debut

by Tony Webeck

Greg Chalmers Champions Tour
Greg Chalmers shot 67 on Monday to qualify for the Cologuard Classic on the PGA TOUR Champions. Photo: Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Somebody get DJ Khaled on the phone, we’ve got ‘another one’.

Just as the PGA TOUR Champions fraternity come to terms with Aussies taking four of five spots on offer at Qualifying School last December, Greg Chalmers has Monday qualified for this week’s Cologuard Classic in Arizona.

Denied the opportunity to try and Monday qualify for the first Champions Tour he was eligible to enter in October last year – he turned 50 two days after the qualifier – Chalmers only narrowly missed joining Cameron Percy, David Bransdon, Michael Wright and Steve Allan in securing a full card at Q School.

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The two-time Australian Open and Australian PGA champion finished one shot shy of forcing a playoff for the fifth and final card but will now make his senior circuit debut, taking the total number of Aussies in the field to eight.

Ironically, Chalmers was already exempt into the Puerto Rico Open on the PGA TOUR but, in typical Chalmers style, is instead embracing his new status as a rookie on tour.

“This will be my first Champions Tour event and I might be a little excited about it,” said Chalmers in a tweet that garnered 279 comments, 45 retweets and close to 2,000 likes.

Chalmers is not the only Australian making their debut on a major tour this week.

West Australian amateur Gareth Steyn will make his PGA TOUR debut in Puerto Rico thanks to his victory at the White Sands Bahamas NCAA Men's Invitational last October.

A redshirt sophomore at Georgia State University who hails from Joondalup in Perth, Steyn was formerly at Augusta University and is trying to treat this week as he would any other playing college golf.

“I haven’t prepared any differently from how I prepare for collegiate events because, at the end of the day, it’s still golf and lowest score wins,” Steyn said prior to arriving in Puerto Rico.

“If anything, that is a form of preparation, trying to make the event not bigger than what it actually is.”

Showing just what a step up in class he is facing, Steyn expects that the closest comparison he has to the crowds expected in Puerto Rico are those who turned out for the club championships back home at Joondalup Country Club.

“We have a very passionate membership at Joondalup and we get hundreds of members coming out to watch our club champion final,” Steyn added.

“Even though it’s an event that doesn’t really mean much, that’s probably the most support I’ve had.

“I don’t know what to expect, how many people will support me because obviously there will be bigger crowds around the bigger players, but I’m sure there’ll still be quite a lot around hole one and hole 18.”

Min Woo Lee’s runner-up finish at the Cognizant Classic has earned him a spot in the field for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Adam Scott granted a sponsor’s exemption to join fellow Aussies Jason Day and Cam Davis at Bay Hill.

Also this week, Cameron Smith will be out to go one better at Hong Kong Golf Club for the inaugural LIV Golf Hong Kong.

Smith was runner-up to Ben Campbell in the Hong Kong Open late last year and is trying to solidify the work that he and coach Grant Field have done to improve his performance with the driver.

Round 1 tee times AEDT

PGA TOUR Arnold Palmer Invitational Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Florida 12:15am Will Zalatoris, Min Woo Lee 12:55am Jason Day, Tom Hoge 3:35am Cam Davis, Denny McCarthy 5:40am Sami Valimaki, Adam Scott

Defending champion: Kurt Kitayama Past Aussie winners: Rod Pampling (2006), Jason Day (2016), Marc Leishman (2017) Prize money: $US20 million TV times: Live 5am-10am Friday, Saturday; Live 2am-10am Sunday; Live 1:30am-9am Monday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

Puerto Rico Open Grand Reserve Golf Club, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico 10:45pm* Andrew Landry, Nate Lashley, Aaron Baddeley 10:56pm* Nicholas Lindheim, Harrison Endycott, Justin Hastings (a) 3:19am Geoff Ogilvy, George McNeill, Derek Lamely 4:14am Jimmy Stanger, Max Greyserman, Gareth Steyn (a)

Defending champion: Nico Echavarria Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US4 million TV times: Live 2am-5am Friday, Saturday on Fox Sports 503; Live 6:30am-9am Sunday; Live 5:30am-8am Monday on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo.

DP World Tour Jonsson Workwear Open Glendower Golf Club, Edenvale, South Africa 9:30pm* Jason Scrivener, Johannes Veerman, Louis Albertse

Defending champion: Nick Bachem Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US1.5 million TV times: Live 9pm-2am Thursday, Friday; Live 9:30pm-2am Saturday; Live 8:30pm-1:30am Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

LPGA Tour Blue Bay LPGA Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course, People's Republic of China 10:30am* Celine Boutier, Lydia Ko (NZ), Minjee Lee 11:25am Robyn Choi, Caroline Inglis, Yue Ren 11:36am* Karis Davidson, Yijia Ren (a), Sarah Schmelzel 3:33pm Gabriela Ruffels, Miranda Wang, Yunxuan Zhang

Defending champion: Gaby Lopez (2018) Past Aussie winners: Minjee Lee (2016) Prize money: $US2.2 million TV times: Live 3pm-8pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

LIV Golf LIV Golf Hong Kong Hong Kong Golf Club, Sheung Shui, Hong Kong Australasians in the field: Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Lucas Herbert, Matt Jones, Danny Lee (NZ)

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US20 million TV times: Live from 3:15pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday on 7 Plus

Korn Ferry Tour Astara Chile Classic Prince of Wales Country Club, Santiago, Chile 10:05pm Tag Ridings, Curtis Luck, Frankie Capan III 10:35pm Brett Drewitt, Chris Petefish, Jacob Solomon 11:25pm Walker Lee, Charlie Hillier (NZ), Luke Long 2:35am Jorge Fernández Valdés, Rhein Gibson, Rick Lamb

Defending champion: Ben Kohles Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US1 million

PGA TOUR Champions Cologuard Classic La Paloma Country Club, Tucson, Arizona Australasians in the field: Steven Alker (NZ), Stuart Appleby, David Bransdon, Greg Chalmers, Richard Green, Mark Hensby, Rod Pampling, John Senden, Michael Wright

Defending champion: David Toms Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US2.2 million TV times: 1:30pm-3pm Saturday on Fox Sports 503; Live 9am-11am Sunday; Live 8am-11am Monday on Fox Sports 505.

Epson Tour Florida's Natural Charity Classic Country Club of Winter Haven, Winter Haven, Florida Australasians in the field: Amelia Garvey (NZ), Cassie Porter, Su Oh

Defending champion: Agathe Laisne Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US250,000

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