U.S. Am champ gets invites to two Tour stops
Thursday, February 16, 2012
The pro schedule of U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft is beginning to take shape. Tournament officials for the HP Byron Nelson Championship and Crowne Plaza Invitational told Golfweek that they have extended sponsor invitations to Kraft, who hails from nearby Denton, Texas, and attended SMU in Dallas.
The Nelson will be held May 17-20 at TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas. The Crowne Plaza will be held the next week at Fort Worth's Colonial Country Club. Kraft also is exempt for the following week's Memorial by virtue of his victory at last year's U.S. Amateur, in which he beat Patrick Cantlay in the final at Erin Hills.
Kraft's U.S. Amateur victory also makes him exempt for the AT&T National on June 28-July 1 at Congressional Country Club in suburban Washington. Neither the Memorial nor AT&T National count against the maximum seven sponsor exemptions he is allowed to accept because the U.S. Amateur champion is invited as part of the tournaments' eligibility requirements. Kraft is still exempt for both events even though he intends to play them as a pro. PGA Tour non-members are limited to 12 starts and seven sponsor exemptions per year.
Kraft previously has said he intends to turn pro after the Masters, which will be held April 5-8. Doing so means he must forgo invitations to the U.S. Open and Open Championship. Kraft is eligible for the RBC Heritage, held the week after the Masters, but only if he remains an amateur. The tournament has a long history of supporting amateur golf, though, so Kraft would seem to be a strong candidate to receive an invitation to the event in Hilton Head Island, S.C. If not, the next week's Valero Texas Open would be a likely site of his pro debut, considering his Texas ties.
The Heritage and Texas Open told Golfweek last week that they have yet to make decisions regarding this year's sponsor exemptions.
Kraft also is eligible for the Nationwide Tour's Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational on July 26-29 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course. That event is the same week as the RBC Canadian Open.