Stallings to make PGA Tour debut at Sony Open in Hawaii Friday

Stallings to make PGA Tour debut at Sony Open in Hawaii Friday


Previous winners include former Golden Eagle Jeff Sluman in 1999

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Former Tennessee Tech All-American Scott Stallings will make his PGA Tour debut this week in the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

Stallings, 25, is scheduled to tee off Thursday at 8:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. CT) on home No. 10, playing in a threesome with Keegan Bradley and Tony Finau. The same three players are slated to begin play Friday at 1 p.m. (5 p.m. CT) on the first hole at the sprawling Waialae layout.

Heavy rains all this week in Hawaii could play havoc with the tournament. Already the pro-am event on Wednesday was cancelled, and the wet and soggy course is underwater on some holes.

With a field of 144 golfers, players will be on the cours from sunrise to sundown, leaving little leeway for postponements, according to The Golf Channel. Sony Open officials say they could play 36 holes on Sunday. The tournament has never been forced to have a Monday finish.

Stallings is the second former Tech player in this tournament. Jeff Sluman, who played his freshman season at Tennessee Tech, won the Spny Open title in 1999.

Coverage on The Golf Channel is scheduled for 5 p.m. and 10 p.m daily throughout the tournament. Fans watching Stallings will see several familiar names, including two-time winner Ernie Els (five groups ahead of Stallings), John Daly (the threesome just ahead of Stallings), Jesper Parnevik, Billy Mayfair and Rocco Mediate, to name a few.

Last year's winner, Ryan Palmer, headlines the field as he defends his title.

Since it's the first full-field event of the season, the Sony Open in Hawaii is the first opportunity for many incoming rookies to make their debuts on the PGA Tour. This week, 26 of this year's 35 rookies are ready to tee off Thursday.

Of those 26 players, nine have never played in a single tour event. That's a lot of new faces.

"You walk around on that range," said two-time Sony champ Ernie Els, "and you think you're on a different tour."

Indeed, Waialae offers a chance for the veterans to get the know some of the new guys … and for the new guys to start picking the brains of the veterans.

"Every once in a while, you'll get some questions from the younger guys," said Heath Slocum, whose first full season on PGA tour came in 2002 when he played the Sony Open. "They'll find somebody they might know, or know through somebody else.

"They're asking the same questions that I asked back then, like where do you stay, things like that," Slocum said.

"I'm going to meet a lot of new faces this week, guys I've probably never seen or heard," Els said. "It's a great event for that, to get their feet wet and see what it's like on the big tour.

"I'm sure there's a lot of anticipation on their side. For us, the old-timers, it's nice to meet a lot of the young, new guys."

Slocum, who has won four tour events since making his 2002 debut — including one in each of the last two seasons — thinks the younger guys may be anxious to play but they're certainly not intimidated.

"They definitely seem more confident than I was (in 2002)," Slocum said. "They just come out firing on all cylinders, hitting it two miles.

The Sony Open is the largest charity event in Hawaii and has raised over $10 million dollars for the local not-for-profits since 1999.

In just twelve years, the Sony Open has emerged as a leader in charitable giving in the state. With a significant start of generating $256,000 for 43 charities in 1999, tournament charity proceeds now surpass the $1 million mark annually benefiting more than 100 not-for-profit organizations.

Global impact of the event reaches over 450 million homes in some 200 countries via multiple national and international broadcast networks, and contributes an estimated $100 million in marketing and economic impact to Hawaii. One of the most international events on the PGA Tour schedule, the Sony Open showcases international golf talent and camaraderie against the backdrop of Hawaii's natural beauty to the world. In 2007 the Sony Open debuted live event coverage to China and India, and distributed the telecasts to over 150 other countries around the world, making it one of the most internationally televised golf events in the world.

Photo above left: From Stuart Appleby's Twitter, a photo of the course from his hotel room
Information from this story came from the PGA, the Sony Open, and The Golf Channel