14 collegians get a chance to play for Northern Trust exemption
One of 14 players will tee it up with the pros Thursday<br>photo courtesy Northern Trust Open
One of 14 players will tee it up with the pros Thursday
photo courtesy Northern Trust Open

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. (Feb. 11, 2015) — Fourteen college golfers will partner with a PGA Tour professional from their respective universities (as well as two amateurs) this Monday, February 16. Sounds like a great opportunity, right?

It gets even better.

That's because the college player will play his own ball, with the players scoring lowest earning an exemption into the Northern Trust Open, which begins three days later at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. You can bet that O.D. Vincent, the Tournament Director of that PGA Tour event, a former golf coach at Washington and UCLA, had more than a little to do with this unique opportunity coming to fruition.

“We are excited to launch the Northern Trust Open Collegiate Showcase and are thrilled with the caliber of players who are giving back to their schools by participating,” said Vincent in a press release. “Our goal is to promote growth of the game by bringing more attention, and ultimately funds, to collegiate golf, and to offer another avenue for an up-and-coming collegiate player to experience the best the PGA Tour has to offer.”

How do the players feel about it? The local universities, like UCLA and USC, are bound to have the most pressure on them.

"Playing in the event for me would be a dream come true since it's right in my backyard," UCLA junior Jonathan Garrick told Golfweek. "I've played that course [Riviera Country Club] many times when they have had the grandstands up and always wanted to be apart of the real deal. It's a special opportunity that us college players have never before gotten to experience. It's not often we get to play alongside Tour pros on such a world- class course, let alone compete for an exemption."

Wake Forest freshman Will Zalatoris, who will play with Bill Haas, was equally excited.

"Our coach told us at the beginning of the fall that the player with the lowest scoring average gets a spot in the field," Zalatoris told Golfweek. "I'm excited. ... It'll be a great test. It's a dream of mine to one day play on the PGA Tour and it'd mean a lot (to earn the exemption), but more than anything, being an 18-year-old punk, I'll be there to learn."

The pro and two amateurs will play best-ball for the chance to win $50,000 for that university's golf program. The team and player list follows. Click on the college player's name for a complete bio and rankings info. (At press time, Oklahoma State had yet to determine it's representative.)

ABOUT THE Genesis Open Collegiate Showcase

The Genesis Open Collegiate Showcase was founded in 2015 and it is a chance for collegiate players to play with PGA Tour alumni from their respective schools. Two simultaneous competitions take place:

In the individual competition, the collegiate players will play their own ball to record an 18-hole score. The low collegian is awarded a playing spot in the Northern Trust Open.

In the team competition, the professional and the two amateurs (playing at specified percentage of their most current and verified handicap) will team up to play a best ball format (one-ball). The low Professional and Amateurs team will take home the Champions Trophy for their school and a check for $50,000.00, going to their universities golf program.

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