Jim Harris: Catch Future PGA Stars at Chenal When They’re Still Dreaming About Greatness


With the Southern Amateur being staged in Little Rock’s Chenal Country Club this week, all the while  noticing some other now-famous names on the PGA Tour who passed through Little Rock in tournaments over the past seven years, I decided to take a “where are they now” look back at the 2013 Western Amateur field who played at The Alotian Club in western Pulaski County.

Remember, when the tournament was announced – it’s probably the next best thing in U.S. Amateur Golf behind the USGA’s men’s amateur, with the Southern Am just a little behind it, and all of them loaded with the greatest of traditions – the organizers didn’t have to convince most golf followers that Arkansas would be hosting a plethora of future professionals at Alotian. Anybody who was anybody in the top 100 of the world’s amateur game at the time received an invite, most accepted the prestigious call, and the Western filled the gaps for the 155-person field with some outstanding local and regional amateurs, a few who enjoyed the rounds of a lifetime, as I recall them saying then.

Looking back now on that list of final results from the 2013 Western Amateur, you see such names as Bryson Dechambeau, who was as “different” then as he is now on the PGA Tour, donning the Hogan-like flat cap and playing with irons all the same length and bringing a scientific approach to his game. At that time, Dechambeau was an SMU golfer. The California native finished in a tie for 27th, failing to advance from the four rounds of stroke play into the Sweet 16 match-play portion of the tournament. His 286 left him tied with such golfers as Little Rock’s Joe Doramus, who shot a terrific fourth-round 69 and, like Dechambeau, was 3 shots out of making match play. 

Doramus is out of the everyday golf game, now working the 9 to 5 at Stephens Inc., where his father is chief operating officer. I saw Joe the other day when his wife, Anne Marie, was named the newest commissioner for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. I wish I had already researched this column then so we could have mused about him tying the now-popular pro, Dechambeau, over four rounds at Alotian.

Besides that fact of which to be proud, Doramus was far ahead of Xander Schauffele, now one of the PGA’s wunderkinds along with Dechambeau and a close second last year to Francesco Molinari in the British Open at Carnoustie. Schauffele, whose name I recall standing out for just being odd, didn’t make the stroke play cut after two rounds totaling 145. Speaking of names, Ollie Schniederjans, then out of Georgia Tech, also didn’t move past two rounds of stroke play – but he’s moved on to multimillionaire status on the PGA Tour, earning $1.3 million last year and $411,682 so far this year, and nearly $4 million for his career.

Oh, and Schauffele? He’s won twice this year and has made $5.4 million, bringing his career earnings to $13.7 million. Dechambeau, meanwhile, also has topped $13 million in career money, and he won three times last year on the way to making the Ryder Cup. It appears they’ve realized their dreams they had as amateurs. Not everybody has such fortune, but this Western Am was filled with other success stories.

Wyndham Clark, another of those names that sort of just jumps out at you for being unusual, or sounding like it should be a hotel chain, didn’t turn in a second-round card after a first-round 70 and WD’d. Clark, who played at Oregon, has three top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour this year, including a recent third place at the 3M Open in Minnesota. Then there’s Spencer Lawson, also brought up the rear of the final results with Clark with a WD, was last seen playing professionally on the LatinoAmerica PGA Tour in 2016.

On the other end of the results, the 2013 Western Am winner, Jordan Niebrugge, is on the Korn Ferry Tour, which earlier this year was still being called the Web.com Tour, the AAA as it were of big-league golf, just below the PGA Tour. He’s joined on there by Western Am match-play alums and former Razorbacks Taylor Moore and Sebastian Cappelen, as well former Alabama star Robby Shelton. Former Hog Austin Cook, who fell short of making match play in 2013, has gone on to a nice PGA career. So has a guy who played at Alabama named Justin Thomas.

Here’s where the other Sweet 16 players are now:

Sean Dale, the runner-up, was most recently playing in Canada on the PGA’s Mackenzie Tour, but he has no stats since 2017, and that year had come off a torn labrum that sidelined him most of 2016.

Kramer Hickok, a semifinalist along with Cappelen in 2013 and a Texas grad who at one point was teammates with Jordan Speith, is on the PGA Tour and ranks 155th in FedEx points. He’s got a one top 10 finish on the Tour, in late March.

Carlos Ortiz, who played at the University of North Texas, is on the PGA Tour where he ranks 107th in the FedEx points standings. He was fifth at the 3M a few weeks back, ninth in L.A. at the Genesis Open and third last fall at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He’s made over $1 million this wrap-around 2018-19 season.

Another quarterfinalist, David Snyder, must have been only 15 or 16 at the Western six years ago, as the McAllen, Texas, product still got one more year playing for Stanford’s golf team, this year’s national champion over Texas at The Blessings course outside Fayetteville.

Tyler Dunlap, another Texas product from South Lake, hasn’t posted in professional stats in a while; his last results are from 2018 on the All Pro Tour (which, coincidentally, will be at Texarkana July 24-27). The ATP, formerly known as the Adams Pro Tour, conducts its tour in the southwest/Midwest and is the step below the Korn Ferry. 

Seth Reeves, a Georgia Tech product, has made $300,000 on the PGA Tour this season.

Patrick Rodgers, who scorched the field in stroke play at Alotian, winning medalist honors with a 18-under 270 yet was eliminated in his first match, has done well on the PGA Tour with three second-place finishes in his career, three Top 10s last year and $1 million earned this year in ranking 88th in FedEx points.

Jonathan Garrick of Chicago has found some success in Canada on the PGA’s Mackenzie Tour, including  couple of runner-up finishes this year.

Californian Cory McElyea doesn’t show up on any recent statistics after a run at the pro ranks right after the Western.

Keith Mitchell, another first-match loser at the Western after making the Sweet 16, maybe has the best game going now. He won the Honda Classic and was sixth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in back-to-back weeks in March, and eighth at the Wells Fargo Championship in May. He’s playing the Open Championship this week at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. He’s banked $2.3 million this year and $4 million for his career.

Taylor Gooch and Beau Hossler, who round out our Sweet 16 from 2013, are plugging along on the PGA Tour. Gooch has over $1 million in earnings this season; Hossler has pocketed $627,770 and is looking to crack that magic 125th spot in the FedEx standings to make the PGA’s “playoffs,” which start next month.

And that Southern Amateur being staged here at Chenal Country Club for the first time since 2012? The event seven years ago had such future stars/PGA tournament winners as Justin Thomas, Keith Mitchell, Daniel Berger and C.T. Pan, as well as several more entrants who returned and played at Alotian the following year.

So, you want to see the future of the professional golf game, for free and right in your back yard? Traipse on out to Chenal Country Club through Saturday afternoon and watch.

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