HONOLULU — Reigning British Open champion Brian Harman made his PGA Tour debut at the 2012 Sony Open in Hawaii. Now 36 and entering his 13th year as a Tour member, he was asked Tuesday how he realized when he reached veteran status.
“I think when you start showing up to this tournament and you don’t recognize anyone that’s here,” he said during a pre-tournament press conference. “That’s when you know you’ve been out here a while. You’re looking and you’re like, ‘Man, someone letting their kid out there putting?’ No, that guy is a rookie. ‘OK, here we go.’”
This week, that fresh face for Harman could be that of Belgian Adrien Dumont de Chassart, who Wednesday was voted 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Rookie of the Year by his peers. The 23-year-old Dumont de Chassart enjoyed a fifth year at University of Illinois, where he was a three-time Big Ten Player of the Year, and graduated with a degree in business management. Belgium isn’t exactly a golfing hotbed and yet his path into golf had as much to do with geography as anything.
“I lived a mile away from a golf course, so my dad and my brother always brought me with them when I was very young, and that’s how I get started,” he said.
After finishing third in the 2023 PGA Tour University ranking, Dumont de Chassart won in his pro debut on the Korn Ferry Tour. He finished second the following week and hardly slowed down, recording six consecutive top-10s and assured a rapid rise to the PGA Tour this season.
Sony Open: Photos
“I think that’s a dream that every kid back home wants to accomplish one day,” said Dumont de Chassart, who joins fellow Belgian and Illini grad Thomas Detry in the big leagues.
That’s something the young Belgian and Chan Kim, who took a more circuitous route to the Tour, share in common. Kim is a 33-year-old rookie who said his body’s aches and pains make him feel more like a 43-year-old.
“Well, would’ve loved to be a rookie at 23. Sometimes that doesn’t work out,” he said. “Just to be here, to have this experience, know that this is – it’s been a lifelong goal.”
Kim grew up not far from Waialae Country Club, host of the tournament since 1965, from age 3 to 16 and attended the Sony Open as a kid every year. He would wake up at 4:30 a.m. and wait for a tee time at Ala Wai Golf Course, one of the nation’s busiest municipal courses, and use his junior pass, which gave him 20 nine-hole rounds for $20.
“So, a dollar per nine holes,”…