Ghim says he has the game to compete with former college rivals
The PGA Tour's top stars generally sit out the fall tournaments after the FedEx Cup Playoffs. That's been the case this season, even though the Masters remains -- rescheduled from April to Nov. 12 to 15 because of the pandemic.
Doug Ghim, the PGA Tour rookie from Arlington Heights, is benefiting from the absence of golf's big guns as the season winds down. He's had two of his best tournaments in the last three weeks.
His best finish was a tie for 14th in the Safeway Open in California the first week of the 2020-21 campaign. It was played a week after the FedEx Cup Playoffs last month. Last week he added a tie for 23rd in the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi.
The $159,720 he earned from those events left him at No. 46 on the 2020-21 money list for the Tour's next wraparound season that concludes after the FedEx Cup Playoffs in August 2021.
Ghim's rookie season didn't match those of Cameron Champ, Matt Wolff and Collin Morikawa -- all college rivals who have won tournaments on the PGA Tour. Ghim, 24, was the 2018 Ben Hogan Award winner at the best male collegiate golfer during his senior season at Texas.
"Watching them win tells me I have the game," Ghim said. "We've played countless rounds together and I know I can compete with those guys. It is an added sense of relief that it's possible, and that we have the game. It's a matter of being more consistent week in and week out."
Ghim isn't in the field for this week's tournament in Las Vegas and may not get into an event until the Oct. 29 Bermuda Open.
"This whole fall in general is a big opportunity, especially for us rookies, to get settled in and cement our place within our category," Ghim said. "Hopefully we get into a lot of events next spring. I've set a lot of goals for this season, then you try to get better every single day and hopefully those goals will become a reality. Each week is its own battle."
LPGA:Winnetka's Elizabeth Szokol, the only Chicago player on the LPGA Tour, is in the field for the third major of the year -- the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. It tees off Thursday at Aronimink in Philadelphia.
Szokol, 26, made 10 cuts in 20 starts last year in her rookie season, earning $105,814 for No. 108 on the money list. She retained her playing privileges with a tie for 11th in the eight-round qualifying series, and made her fourth cut in 10 starts in the 2020 campaign in last week's Shop-Rite Classic in New Jersey. Szokol is No. 86 on this season's money list with $57,157.
CDGA:Libertyville resident Connie Kowal, a former executive with the Cubs and New Orleans Saints, is in the field for the last championship of the Chicago District Golf Association season this week, and those in his playing groups might find him a good-luck charm.
Kowal witnessed two holes-in-one by playing partners in a four-day span recently. Both were named Ray and both made their first aces. Ray Burg of Mundelein did it at Arrowhead in Wheaton, and Ray Bening of Des Moines, had his ace at Western Illinois University's Harry Mussatto course. Kowal will partner with James Duszak, a former teammate on the WIU baseball team, in the CDGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship that runs through Thursday at Aurora Country Club.