Correction/clarification: A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized Cole Hammer’s result in the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational. He had the best individual round and top result for Texas.
ATLANTA — Cole Hammer has already had quite the season and he feels it.
The Texas sophomore doesn’t just feel it in experience gained as he returns to collegiate play after competing in both the Walker Cup and Houston Open this fall, he also feels it as a student-athlete who’s missed two weeks of school.
Hammer, a corporate communications and business foundation minor,￼￼￼ is all caught up academically, but said he’s still missing his “best stuff” at the East Lake Cup.
“This is my sixth tournament of the fall and two of the tournaments I missed the entire week of school so I’m just trying to get my feet under me from playing all this golf,” Hammer said Tuesday at East Lake Golf Club. “I wouldn’t say I’m tired, I just haven’t had a chance to take a breather. I played all right here this week.”
No. 6 in Golfweek’s Amateur Golf Rankings, Hammer played in the U.S. Amateur in August where he missed the cut after stroke play, helped the United States defeat Great Britain and Ireland at the 47th Walker Cup in September and earlier this month played on a sponsor exemption in his second PGA Tour event at the Houston Open.
While Hammer, 20, admits traveling, playing six tournaments and keeping up with school has been a struggle to manage this fall, he’s thankful for the experience.
“I think just knowing I can go out there and compete with those guys and then coming back here and gives me some confidence to know that my best stuff can compete out there on Tour,” Hammer said. “I didn’t have my best stuff two weeks ago when I played in the Houston Open, but I still made the cut and had a good time doing it.”
Hammer, who is from Houston, made his Tour debut at the 2015 U.S. Open. At the Houston Open, he finished T-61 at 1 over after opening with a 67.
Texas coach John Fields agreed Hammer’s rigorous schedule has been draining, but the experience has been worthwhile. Fields said the East Lake Cup is a timely event for Hammer because tee times are later in the morning, allowing him to rest more than he would at normal college events.
“Those experiences are priceless, but they take a lot of energy. … It takes some time to get your balance and he’s doing that right now and I look for him to have a good round (Wednesday) and probably fantastic spring,” Fields said.
It seems Hammer is bouncing back. Last week he tied for the best individual round (66) and the best individual result (T-14 at 2 under) for the Longhorns at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational. Texas finished ninth at 7 over.
On Tuesday, Hammer won his semifinal match at the East Lake Cup 2-and-1 over Vanderbilt’s Reid Davenport, but didn’t think either brought their best.
“That was not thanks to my good play,” Hammer said of his win. “(Davenport) made a couple of mistakes, and I think he and I both said we didn’t have our best stuff out there. I’m glad I got the win, it wasn’t very pretty but I got it done.”
Hammer, who shot 70 Monday during stroke play, was one of four Longhorns to win semifinal matches on Tuesday. Pierceson Coody tied his match with Vanderbilt’s Harrison Ott for No. 1 seed Texas to take the semifinal, 4-0-1.
The Longhorns, ranked No. 27 in Golfweek’s Men’s Team Collegiate Rankings, advanced to play No. 3 seed Oklahoma State in the East Lake Cup final Wednesday. Fields is optimistic about his team’s chances.
“This is essentially the team that played at the national championship, but it’s the first time we’ve had that team together this fall for a lot of reasons … so it was nice to come here with some enthusiasm and kind of rekindle the vibe that we had at the national championship,” Fields said.
Due to expected inclement weather Wednesday, tee times for the final and consolation matches have been moved up at 8:30 a.m. ET. Players will play from the first tee for championship matches and 10th tees for consolation matches. Golf Channel also moved live coverage and will broadcast from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. ET.