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PGA Tour rookie Joe Highsmith backed his way into Sony Open field

PGA Tour rookie Joe Highsmith backed his way into Sony Open field

HONOLULU — Joe Highsmith’s PGA Tour season is off to a great start no matter how he plays on Thursday.

The 23-year-old rookie earned a spot in the field at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Wednesday when Aaron Baddeley withdrew from the tournament.

“I’m feeling blessed,” Highsmith told fellow rookie Jimmy Stanger. “And I got the best tee time too.”

Indeed, Baddeley’s tee time for 7:10 a.m. local time now belongs to Highsmith, first off the 10th tee with fresh greens in front of him alongside veteran Charley Hoffman and Tyson Alexander.

And to think that Highsmith, a member of Pepperdine’s national championship-winning team in 2021, was fifth alternate when he arrived in Hawaii for Tour rookie orientation. With the expanded field for The Sentry in Maui, a deeper field than usual signed up for the Sony Open this week. The field includes 54 of the top 100 and 22 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Golf Ranking, compared to just 14 of the top 50 a year ago. As a result, Highsmith was one of 12 rookies who registered for the Monday Q this week.

Sony Open: Photos

Last-minute heroics are nothing new for Highsmith. He ranked 48th on the Korn Ferry Tour points list with two events remaining before finishing T-2 and T-3 – shooting a final-round 6-under 66 in the latter and matching the day’s low score – to jump to No. 18 in the KFT points standings and punch his ticket to the big time. His Sony start marks his third career Tour start; he has yet to make a cut.

While Highsmith was the beneficiary of Baddeley pulling out, Julian Suri was not. As Monday Q’s Ryan French noted, had the Australian withdrawn 24 hours earlier, Suri would have been in the field. Suri lost to Norman Xiong in a 7-for-2 man playoff, and Xiong was the first alternate at the time.


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