CROMWELL, June 19 – Things are changing fast for PGA Tour rookie Doug Ghim.
Just a few weeks ago, he was a senior playing golf for the University of Texas where he won the Ben Hogan Award for being the top collegiate golfer in the country and being named the top amateur golfer in the world.
In April, he earned the Silver Cup as the top amateur at the Masters – the only amateur to make the cut this year with an eight-over-par 298. Last week, he played in the U.S. Open – missing the cut — after having qualified by finishing second in the most recent U.S. Amateur Championship.
This week, Ghim turns pro and the Travelers’ Championship at the TPC River Highlands will be his professional debut. And who did Ghim play a practice round with on Tuesday? Defending tournament champion Jordan Spieth, who made that magical shot out of the bunker on the 18th hole to win the tournament last year in a playoff.
“It’s a dream come true. To do it here at a venue like this, I’m truly honored,” said Ghim, who is just 22. “I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be able to play against such a great field this week, and I just finished a practice round with Jordan Spieth, and, you know, it’s really — I mean, I can’t explain to you how proud I am to be here, and I’m just really excited to get things rolling.”
First round action begins on Thursday at TPC River Highlands with round two on Friday. The Celebrity Pro-Am is Wednesday.
Ghim was watching last year’s Travelers Championship on television when Spieth hit his big shot from the bunker on the 18th hole to win the tournament. Daniel Berger finished strong with birdies on three of the last six holes.
On the first playoff hole, Spieth’s drive bounced off a tree and into the fairway. His second shot landed in the bunker on the right side of the 18th hole. Spieth, who had led the tournament since Thursday, popped it out of the bunker. It bounced twice and rolled right into the cup for the win.
“I was in my kitchen when he had holed out that bunker shot. I was like I couldn’t believe it,” Ghim said. “When he holed that bunker shot, I went crazy, my parents went crazy, and I just couldn’t believe that he pulled it off again.”
“To still be able to pull it off, albeit a wedge from a bunker, it was still pretty impressive to me,” Ghim said of Spieth’s victory. “You know, you can always learn from those kind of tournaments and know that that’s what great players do. They still find a way to win, even when they’re not on their game.”
Ghim said Spieth offered some advice during their round today. “He was gracious enough to reach out to me and want to practice with me today,” Ghim said. “He was telling me not to put too much pressure on myself. Obviously you aim high and want to go on a run and do really well and earn your (PGA) Tour card right away. That’s what everyone wants to do.
“But if it doesn’t happen, as long as you have a good attitude and remember why you play, because we love to compete and love playing the game, you’ll get out there sooner or later,” Ghim said.
Ghim planned to turn pro after the U.S. Open and he got a sponsor’s exception to play in Cromwell this week for his professional debut.
“I was just so lucky that the Travelers Championship gave me the opportunity to be here you know as a sponsor’s invite,” Ghim said. “You just don’t know when you’re going to get called to play in any PGA Tour event, and I just feel incredibly thankful to the tournament, to the sponsors, to give me this opportunity.”
Ghim will play with Joel Dahmen and Rick Lamb in the final pairing on Thursday, teeing off at 2 p.m. The three men will tee off on Friday at 9 a.m.
Nine of the top 20 players in the world are in the tournament including Spieth, who is ranked No. 5 in the world, No. 2 Justin Thomas, No. 7 Rory McIlroy, No. 9 Jason Day, No. 20 Bubba Watson and No. 4 Brooks Koepka, who won his second straight U.S. Open on Saturday.