The BMW Charity Pro-Am returns once again starting Thursday after the PGA Tour’s developmental Korn Ferry Tour event was cancelled last summer due to the pandemic.
The tour’s lone event that pairs amateurs, including celebrities, with the professionals will continue using the two-course format it changed to in the last tournament in 2019. The event had utilized three venues for most of a history that began using the current formula in 2001 when Anderson native and former Clemson star Jonathan Byrd won. Greer’s Thornblade Club will continue to serve as the host course while The Cliffs Valley will also be played.
Actor Anthony Anderson and comedians Cedric the Entertainer and Larry the Cable Guy join former baseball stars Ken Griffey Jr., Roger Clemens and Ozzie Smith in headlining the celebrities.
The tournament features one of the largest non-playoff event purses of $700,000 with the winner’s share $126,000. Here are 10 players to watch who will be chasing the top prize.
• Stephan Jaeger (Round 1, 7:22 a.m., Tee 10 at Cliffs Valley; Round 2, 12:21 p.m., Tee 10, Thornblade) — The 32-year-old native of Germany played collegiately at Tennessee-Chattanooga and won the BMW in 2017. His $601,384 leads the money list by a whopping $140,499 and his $1.3 million in career earnings ranks 16th all-time. He’s won twice this year and a third win would give him an immediate promotion to the PGA Tour. He lost in a two-man playoff in Raleigh, North Carolina on Sunday. His six career victories are one off Jason Gore’s record. Jaeger shot a record 12-under 58 in the opening round of his first win at the 2016 Ellie Mae Classic.
• Andrew Novak (Round 1, 12:10 p.m., Tee 10 TB; Round 2, 7 a.m., Tee 1 CV) — The 2017 Wofford graduate who grew up in Mount Pleasant enters this week tied for 18th in earnings with $286,835. From early April into early May he posted five-consecutive top-10 finishes (shooting a combined 61-under-par) including a solo third. After missing two cuts in-a-row he returned from a week off to tie for ninth at last week’s REX Hospital Open in his Raleigh birthplace after opening with a career-best 61. He earned his lone career win in February of 2020 at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.
• Tommy Gainey (Round 1, 12:21 p.m., Tee 10 TB; Round 2, 7:11 a.m., Tee 1 CV) — “Two Gloves” was born in Darlington and lives in Hartsville and has become somewhat of a golf folk hero after spending time as a factory worker on a rural South Carolina assembly line before succeeding in professional golf. The 45-year-old now in his 24th season as a professional has appeared in 204 PGA Tour events (totaling $5.6 million and winning once in 2012) and 134 Korn Ferry events (totaling $823,994 and winning three times, the last coming in January of 2020 at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic).
• Carson Young (Round 1, 8:39 a.m., Tee 10 CV; Round 2, 1:49 p.m., Tee 1 TB) — The former Pendleton and Clemson (graduating in 2017 with a marketing degree) standout won the 2017 Furman Intercollegiate. He’s played mostly on various mini-tours and is competing this week on a sponsor’s exemption. This is his third Korn Ferry Tour event in the 2020-21 season after tying for 66th last week in Raleigh.
• Billy Kennerly (Round 1, 7:11 a.m., Tee 1 CV; Round 2, 12:21 p.m., Tee 10 TB) — The 2015 Clemson graduate is 48th on the money list with $170,731 and 44th in points with the top-25 at season’s end in the latter category earning their PGA Tour cards. He’s posted three finishes of tied fifth or better over his last nine starts including a career-best tie for second four events ago at the Huntsville Championship where he carded a final round 63.
• Sean Kelly (Round 1, 1:27 p.m., Tee 10 CV; Round 2, 8:17 a.m., Tee 1 TB) — The 26-year-old Staten Island, New York native graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2016. This is just his sixth Korn Ferry start for the 2020-21 season having tied for 28th and 59th before missing his past three cuts. His lone other experience on the tour came during 15 tournaments in 2018 when he missed the cut at his only BMW Charity Pro-Am start and posted his lone top-10 with a tie for sixth at the Pinnacle Bank Championship.
• Stephen Franken (Round 1, 8:17 a.m., Tee 1 CV; Round 2, 1:27 p.m., Tee 10 TB) — If you like watching the guys who can really bomb it off the tee, this 25-year-old 2019 North Carolina State graduate is the longest driver in the field this week. Despite his 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame, Franken ranks fifth in average driving distance at 318.2 yards. He seems to have found his stride recently with three of his four top-10 finishes this year coming over his last five starts, including a tie for sixth Sunday in Raleigh where he shot 68 or lower in all four rounds to record the second-best finish of his short career.
• Cameron Young (Round 1, 8:06 a.m., Tee 1 TB; Round 2, 1:16 p.m., Tee 10 CV) — The 24-year-old rookie and Wake Forest product endured a stretch of five missed cuts entering the the last two events of May before pulling off back-to-back victories. He’s just the 10th player in the 32 years of the Korn Ferry Tour and first in eight years to win consecutive starts, averaging 66.8 strokes over his eight rounds with all lower than 70. He will look to regain his winning touch (and earn an automatic promotion to the PGA Tour with a third win this season) this week after tying for 78th Sunday following his two wins.
• Mito Pereira (Round 1, 12:21 p.m., Tee 1 CV; Round 2, 7:11 a.m., Tee 10 TB) –The 26-year-old native of Chile and Texas Tech product has four top-10s his last five starts, including a tie for second at the Huntsville Championship and Sunday’s playoff win over money leader Jaeger. He’s second both in points and on the money list, $140,499 behind the leader with a victory this week worth $126,000. He’s seeking a third win this year which would earn him immediate PGA Tour privileges.
• Taylor Moore (Round 1, 12:43 p.m., Tee 10 CV; Round 2, 7:33 a.m., Tee 1 TB) — The 27-year-old Arkansas graduate has been among the tour’s hottest players since entering the Club Car Championship in late March having missed three-consecutive cuts and finishing no better than a tie for 49th his two events before that mediocre trio of starts. He finished solo sixth at the Club Car tournament to begin a stretch of nine consecutive starts where he’s posted six top-10s (including Sunday’s tie for third when he carded 65 and 64 in the middle rounds) and hasn’t finished worse than a tie for 24th.