The organizers of the Frys.com Open have extended invitations to 2013 Walker Cup stars Max Homa, a 2013 UC Berkeley grad, and Justin Thomas, who is cutting short his time at the University of Alabama to turn pro, to play in the PGA Tour’s 2013-2014 season opener on sponsor exemptions. The two will make their professional debuts on the championship Robert Trent Jones II course at the CordeValle Resort in San Martin.
Homa and Thomas are two of four Walker Cup competitors who made the 2013 competition their last amateur tournament; Kevin Phelan and Neil Raymond of the GB&I team also announced their intentions to join the professional ranks at the conclusion of the competition.
The two college stars contributed 4-1/2 points to the US team’s total in last week’s 17–9 defeat of the GB&I squad at the historic National Golf Links of America in Southampton, NY. The NGLA was the site of the first Walker Cup competition, in 1922.
Homa put the first full point on the board for the US team, defeating Max Orrin of the GB&I squad 5 and 3 in the second match of Saturday singles. Justin Thomas halved his Saturday singles match against Nathan Kimsey for a half point, then put up a full point for the US team in the Saturday afternoon foursomes with partner Patrick Rodgers, defeating Gavin Moynihan and Kevin Phelan of the GB&I.
Homa and former Cal teammate Michael Kim contributed another point to the US total in the Sunday foursomes with a 1-up win over Garrick Porteous and Rhys Pugh, and Homa defeated Max Orrin in his Sunday singles match for another point.
Homa was a star for the University of California, Berkeley for the last four years, capping his college career by winning the NCAA Individual title this past June in Atlanta. The Cal Bears contended for the National Championship after a record-setting season in which they won eleven of thirteen tournaments.
Thomas and his University of Alabama teammates won the 2013 NCAA Championship with a victory over Illinois in the final match, after having come runner-up to Texas for the 2012 title.
A number of former NCAA Individual Champions are slated to be in the field at this year’s edition of the Fry’s-sponsored tournament, including John Peterson (2011), Scott Langley (2010), Fresno native Kevin Chappell (2008), Jamie Lovemark (2007), Ryan Moore (2004), Troy Matteson (2002), Charles Howell III (2000), Justin Leonard (1994) and Scott Verplank (1986).
Six sponsor exemptions into the field at the 2013 Frys.com Open remain to be awarded. For players without entry status, or not granted a sponsor exemption, open qualifying for four spots in the field will take place October 7 at the Bayonet Golf Course at the former Fort Ord site in Seaside. Fresno-area native Derek Ernst, winner of the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship as a PGA Tour rookie, started his PGA Tour career in last year’s Frys.com Open after playing his way into the field through the qualifying tournament. Ernst made the cut, finishing T-41 and earning his first PGA Tour paycheck.