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Sunday September 25th, 2022 12:02AM

Young, Theegala lead a strong class of PGA Tour rookies

By The Associated Press
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ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — This is turning out to be a strong group of rookies on the PGA Tour, including three players with one thing in common down the home stretch: None has won yet.

The lone winner among PGA Tour rookies is Chad Ramey in the Dominican Republic. His only other top-10 finish was in Puerto Rico, both opposite-field tournaments.

Cameron Young is the front-runner with three events left before the tour's postseason based on two numbers. His runner-up finish in the British Open — his second close call in a major — moved him up to No. 19 in the world. He also is No. 13 in the FedEx Cup.

It's not just missing a playoff by one shot in the PGA Championship or finishing one back in his links debut at St. Andrews. Young also was runner-up in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera and the Wells Fargo Championship. He has six finishes in the top three.

Right behind is Sahith Theegala, who was a fraction away from two wins this year — a tough finish in the Phoenix Open, a double bogey on the final hole at the Travelers Championship. He was No. 437 in the world when he finished the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Now he's at No. 62, and he's No. 38 in the FedEx Cup.

Davis Riley is playing the 3M Open this week and can join the fray. He lost in a playoff at the Valspar Championship, had two other close calls at Colonial and Mexico and has been so steady this year that he is No. 23 in the FedEx Cup.

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MAJOR CUTS

Fortunes can change quickly in golf, and Louis Oosthuizen can attest to that. A year ago, he had the 54-hole lead in the British Open and was tied going into the final round at the U.S. Open. He was runner-up at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

This year, he never played a weekend at a major.

Oosthuizen was the only player who played all four majors without making the cut. That includes a withdrawal after the first round of the Masters with a bad back and a 76.

Rory McIlroy was on the other side. He was the only player to finish in the top 10 at all four majors, not much of a consolation without a trophy to show for it. McIlroy was among 10 players who made the cut in all four majors.

The others were Will Zalatoris, Justin Thomas, Matt Fitzpatrick, Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, Joaquin Niemann, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Tyrrell Hatton.

Rahm now has the longest active streak of making cuts in the majors at 13. Harris English had 15 in a row before missing the cut at St. Andrews.

CHAMBERS BAY

Bruce Charlton was one of the lead designers on the construction of Chambers Bay, with the intention it would become a regular in the rotation of USGA championships.

Chambers Bay, where Jordan Spieth won the 2015 U.S. Open, hosts its fourth USGA championship in early August with the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

“I’m really anxious to see how the USGA sets it up for the women players to take some attack angles because there’s a lot of that out there,” said Charlton, the president and chief design officer of Robert Trent Jones II Golf Architects. “It’ll be fun to watch that.”

But its future beyond this championship remains as cloudy as the Seattle area in the fall.

Chambers Bay believed it was going to be part of a progression that potentially would lead it back to another U.S. Open. The public course held the USGA Four-Ball Amateur last year and was widely praised. It was the first event on renovated greens that were the ire of players — and an eyesore for spectators — during the 2015 Open.

Next up is the Women’s Amateur, which was thought to be followed by a Women’s Open. But when the USGA announced future Women’s Open sites earlier this year and went out through 2031 — and in some years beyond — Chambers Bay was nowhere to be found.

Charlton said while there was disappointment, he remains hopeful one of the major USGA championships will return to the course.

“I really do believe it’s a matter of time. Obviously, you would like to see that kind of major championship come back and test the course again. I think it will,” Charlton said. “Indications are that it’s still very strong in the consideration for those kinds of championships. ... We know it’s on the radar screen.”

PAYNE STEWART AWARD

Billy Andrade has been selected to receive the Payne Stewart Award this year, which has become one of the highest honors for PGA Tour players.

The award honors Stewart, who died in a plane crash in October of 1999, the year he won the U.S. Open. It is given to players to demonstrate character, sportsmanship and a commitment to charity.

“It’s very special. Payne was unbelievable to me and I got to know him very well. I’m speechless really, to think that now I’m part of this elite group of past recipients who have all done it the right way,” Andrade said.

After winning his first PGA Tour title in 1991, Andrade joined with fellow Rhode Islander Brad Faxon to create the Billy Andrade/Brad Faxon Charities for Children Inc. for southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It has generated more than $30 million through its various efforts, which include the CVS Health Charity Classic.

Each May at East Lake Golf Club, which hosts the Tour Championship, Andrade and fellow Atlanta resident Stewart Cink host the East Lake Invitational, a charity pro-am that benefits neighborhood revitalization efforts.

Andrade will be honored Aug. 23, the Tuesday night before the Tour Championship.

DOUBLE THE PLEASURE

Marc Hammer of Germany moved up 734 spots in the world ranking to No. 380 by winning twice in the same week.

Hammer won the Weihenstephan Open on the German-based Pro Golf Tour, where Martin Kaymer long ago got his start. That ended last Tuesday. And then he played the Euram Bank Open in Austria on Europe's Challenger Tour. That ended Sunday.

The good news for Hammer? Now that he's won on the Challenge Tour, he is exempt.

“This win shows me that I am doing the right things and I am on the right track," Hammer said. “I'm so happy because now I can play Challenge Tour every week instead of Pro Golf Tour.”

DIVOTS

Rory McIlroy had 10 two-putt birdies for the week at St. Andrews, a record for the Old Course in the British Open. ... The PGA Tour Champions has its final major of the year at the Senior British Open with a chance to have five different winners. That hasn't happened since 2011 ... With her team title in Michigan, Jennifer Kupcho has three LPGA Tour titles this year to lead the tour. She has pulled to within 292 points of Minjee Lee in the Race to CME Globe. ... Only three players from the top 10 in the FedEx Cup have played 20 or more tournaments this season — Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns and Will Zalatoris.

STAT OF THE WEEK

For the first time since the Masters began, the four professional majors were won by different players all in their 20s — Masters champion Scottie Scheffler (25), PGA champion Justin Thomas (29), U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick (27) and British Open champion Cameron Smith (28).

FINAL WORD

“When you win golf tournaments, you have friends that you didn’t even know were friends.” — British Open champion Cameron Smith.

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AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.

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More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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