Generation Next: Rookies Flocking to NGA Pro Golf Tour

The NGA Pro Golf Tour, formerly the NGA Hooters Pro Golf Tour, the #3 Men's Professional Golf Tour in the United States, welcomes their incoming 2012 class.

Myrtle Beach, SC, February 08, 2012 --( All-American is a common theme in the 2012 NGA Pro Golf Tour Rookie Class

With only a limited number of positions available on the Nationwide and PGA Tours each year, it leaves those professionals who are not fully exempt on those two major tours looking for the next best option. For the last 20 years, the NGA Pro Golf Tour has been that place. And with over 70 rookies signed up for the 2012 Pro Series, that tradition only continues to get stronger.

In addition to a wide array of veterans, the 2012 season will also feature plenty of new blood on the NGA Pro Golf Tour. Highlighted by players of the likes of Drew Kittleson, Lion Kim, T.J. Bordeaux and Jonathan Randolph, to name a few, this year's rookie class is filled with recent college graduates, standouts and All-Americans.

Below is a listing of just a few of the over 70 NGA Pro Golf Tour rookies that you will want to keep an eye on throughout the upcoming 2012 Pro Series season as they begin their quest to secure a PGA Tour card and, one day, follow in the footsteps of NGA alums like Keegan Bradley, Scott Stallings, Gary Woodland, Ted Potter and the hundreds of others by playing on the PGA Tour.

Evan Beirne (Milford, Conn.) - Beirne is an alumnus of St. John’s University, where he earned All-Big East Honors and multiple individual titles. In addition to his stellar collegiate career, Beirne also made headlines for shooting a 58 at New Haven Country Club, winning the Palmer Cup, named for former CSGA Executive Director Russell C. Palmer, and the MET Amateur.

Josh Bevell (Nashville, Tenn.) - Like NGA alum and PGA winner Gary Woodland, Bevell’s first love was basketball. Bevell played one season of hoops at Christian Brothers University before transferring to Mississippi State, where he walked on. By his senior season, Bevell was on scholarship and led the Bulldogs in scoring during the spring of 2009.

Brent Blaum (Coral Gables, Fla.) - Brent is the younger brother of former Duke All-American and three-time NGA winner Ryan Blaum. The younger Blaum played his collegiate golf at LSU, where he lettered as a freshman. In addition, Blaum played in the 2004 U.S. Amateur as a high school sophomore and was ranked among the top 100 seniors in the Class of 2006 by the National Junior Golf Scoreboard.

T.J. Bordeaux (Tacoma, Wash.) - Bordeaux was a four-time Big West All-Conference selection at the University of the Pacific. As a Tiger, Bordeaux won the Oregon Duck Classic in 2008 and the Pacific Invitational in 2010. He also holds the school record for lowest round (61) and lowest tournament score (198). Bordeaux has continued his success in the Bridgestone Winter Series by winning at Red Tail in just his 9th professional start.

Kent Bulle (Glasgow, Ky.) - Bulle was a 2008 NCAA Championship participant while playing at Middle Tennessee State. In 2009, the Blue Raider won the All-American Intercollegiate by shooting a 7-under 209. As a senior, Bulle won twice and finished fourth in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring.

Esteban Calisto (Quito, Ecuador) - As a junior golfer, Calisto won the Ecuador Open three times and was named the 2005 Ecuador Player of the Year. Calisto played his collegiate golf at Brigham Young University and lettered all four years. During his time as a Cougar, Calisto had 10 top-20 finishes in 43 career starts.

Thomas Campbell (Minneapolis, Minn.) - Campbell is a former standout of the University of Minnesota. As a senior, Campbell finished 20th in the Big Ten Championship before joining the NGA Pro Golf Tour. Campbell has been playing on the Bridgestone Winter Series, where he has made five cuts in nine starts.

Cameron Carrico (Owensboro, Ky.) - Carrico was a four-time All-OVC team member during his collegiate career. Carrico picked up his first All-OVC selection at as a freshman at Murray State, where he also earned OVC Freshman of the Year. Carrico went on to be named to the team three more times and won the 2010-11 OVC Player of the Year. As a senior, Carrico led the league in stroke average at 71.0, also fourth in all of NCAA D-I golf.

Chase Carroll (Knoxville, Tenn.) - Carroll played his collegiate golf at Tusculum College, where he is recognized as one of the best players in school history. Carroll won six tournaments and recorded a school record for 22 sub-par rounds in his career, including a TC-best 11 rounds below par as a senior. Carroll was a three-time South Atlantic Conference selection and the 2009 Player of the Year.

Phillip Choi (Orlando, Fla.) - Choi is a highly-decorated rookie from the University of Florida. During his two seasons as a Gator, Choi recorded 10 top-10 finishes and a win at the John Hayt Invitational in 2011. After being named to the All-SEC team and PING All-American squad as a sophomore, Choi chose to forgo his final two years of eligibility to turn pro. Choi was able to Monday qualify for the 2011 McGladrey Classic on the PGA Tour and has been playing on the Bridgestone Winter Series.

Kelvin Day (San Antonio, Texas) - Day joins the NGA Pro Golf Tour after completing his eligibility at Charleston Southern University. As a Buc, Day was a three-time Big South All-Conference team member. During his senior season, Day collected six top-10 finishes and nine top-25s. In addition, Day finished second at the CSU Fall Invitational, the JU Invitational and the Big South Championship.

John Duthie (Lansing, N.Y.) - Duthie is a rookie out of Towson University. Duthie was a three-year standout as a Tiger and earned first team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors during the 2010-11 season.

Tom Glissmeyer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) - Glissmeyer is former All-American from the University of Southern California. As a Trojan, Glissmeyer also picked up GCAA PING All-Pacific Region, All-Pac-10 second team and Pac-10 All-Academic second team honors. Glissmeyer spent last season on the Canadian Tour.

Joseph Harrison (Boulder City, Nev.) - Harrison played two seasons at the University of San Diego. In 2010, Harrison won the Kaual Collegiate Invitational with an 11-under 205 total. Most recently, Harrison won the Southern Nevada Golf Association Championship.

Adam Hogue (Bradenton, Fla.) - Hogue played at N.C. State from 2007-10, where he ranked second on the team in scoring average as a senior. He finished tied for second at the Wolfpack Intercollegiate - his best showing as a collegiate.

Alex Johnson (Tucson, Ariz.) - Johnson was a teammate of rookie T.J. Bordeaux at the University of the Pacific. As a Tiger, Johnson won twice and was named All-Big West first team. In addition, Johnson earned Cleveland Golf/Srixon Academic All-America honors in 2011.

Lion Kim (Lake Mary, Fla.) - Kim is regarded as one of the best golfers in the history of Michigan University, where he became just the second player to be named All-American two times. Kim won the 2010 US Amateur Public Links Championship. Kim was also a PING All-Midwest and two-time All-Big Ten team member. Kim played in the 2011 Masters and won on the Bridgestone Winter Series in just his second start.

Drew Kittleson (Scottsdale, Ariz.) - Kittleson is regarded as one of Florida State’s top alums. As a member of the Seminoles lineup, he helped the team win its first ever ACC golf championship. Kittleson advanced to the finals of the 2008 U.S. Amateur before falling to Danny Lee, 5 & 4. With the second-place finish, he qualified to play in the 2009 Masters and U.S. Open. In 2010, Kittleson was named All-American from the PING/Golf Coaches’ Association of America.

Davis Lee (Palisades Park, N.J.) - Lee was a five-year pupil at Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head, S.C., where he regularly competed on the International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT). Lee recorded 16 top-3 finishes, including three wins, en route to becoming a two-time IJGT All-American. Lee spent two seasons at the University of Oklahoma before turning pro.

Ken Looper (Mandeville, La.) - Looper started his collegiate career at the University of New Orleans, where he played for three seasons. During his tenure as a Privateer, Looper captured three tournament titles and nine top-10 finishes at UNO while leading the team in scoring his sophomore and junior seasons. After transferring to LSU, Looper earned two top-five finishes, four top-10 finishes and six top-20 finishes in 10 starts. Looper was named a PING All-Southeast Region performer in 2011.

C.G. Mercatoris (Brookville, Pa.) - Mercatoris is a highly-decorated rookie from Robert Morris University. As a Colonial, he set records for the lowest stroke average in team history during his 2010-11 senior season, when he entered 10 tournaments and won five. As a senior, Mercatoris was named to the GCAA Division I PING All-Region team, won the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association's Frank Fuhrer Award, was named the Northeast Conference Men's Golf Player of the Year and was an All-NEC First Team selection.

Axel Ochoa (Eatonton, Ga.) - Ochoa is a four-time PING All-American from Oklahoma Christian University. As a senior, Ochoa finished runner-up at the 2011 NAIA Men’s Golf National Championships and helped his team win the NAIA National Championship twice during his four years as an Eagle.

John Popeck (Washington, Pa.) - Popeck joins the NGA Pro Golf Tour after playing his college golf at the University of Maryland. As a Terp, Popeck led the team with six rounds of par or better as a freshman and paced the team in scoring average as a sophomore. During his junior season, Popeck won the individual title at the Rehoboth Beach Fall Invite before turning pro. Before Maryland, Popeck was ranked ninth in U.S. juniors rankings by

Jonathan Randolph (Brandon, Miss.) - A 2010 All-Nicklaus team member, Randolph joins the NGA Pro Golf Tour after a decorated career at Ole Miss, where he earned All-American honors in 2010. He also earned All-SEC honors three of his four years and helped lead the Rebels to four straight NCAA appearances. Randolph holds the record for lowest stroke average at Ole Miss and won three times during his career.

Clayton Rotz (Chambersburg, Pa.) - Rotz is another graduate of LSU that has chosen to progress his game on the NGA Pro Golf Tour. As a Tiger, Rotz was named to the 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team and carded a career-low 65 on the final day of the 2009 SEC Championships as a sophomore, propelling the Tigers into a tie for fourth. One year later as a junior, Rotz helped LSU make its first NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships and capped off his collegiate career by posting his best individual finish as a senior, tying for third at the Gopher Invitational in Minnesota.

Cedric Scotto (River Ridge, La.) - Scotto was a top-10 ranked junior golfer in France before moving to the United States to play college golf at Southeastern Louisiana. During his collegiate career, the Albi, France, native was the first golfer to be named Southland Conference Men’s Golf Student-Athlete of the Year three times. As a senior, Scotto ranked fourth in the league in stroke average and recorded three top-10 finishes. Scotto scored par in 14-of-32 rounds played and beat 74.6 percent of all the individual opponents he faced as a senior.

Clinton Shepard (West Monroe, La.) - Shepard is a rookie out of the Louisiana Tech, where as a senior he was named to the All-Western Athletic Conference team and All-State by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. Shepard also led the team in scoring average and had a team-high six rounds in the 60s.

Zachery Sobel (Clearwater, Fla.) - Sobel won the 2008 American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Heritage Junior Championship after shooting rounds of 68-62-71 to finish 15-under par. His round of 62 is the lowest round ever recorded in an AJGA event. After a highly-successful junior career, Sobel played two seasons at The Ohio State University. As a freshman, Sobel went 3-0-1 in the Big Ten Championships and was named to the All-Tournament team. Sobel has made the cut in five of the six Bridgestone Winter Series events this season.

Oscar Stark (Edmond, Okla.) - Stark was a teammate of Alex Ochoa at Oklahoma Christian University. As an Eagle, Stark won the NAIA’s individual championship and led the Eagles to the program’s second team national title. In doing so, he also earned the Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus Awards, was named a PING First-Team All-America selection for the third straight year, and was named to the 2011 All Nicklaus Team.

Felipe Velazquez (Pompano, Fla.) - Velazquez was a four-year letterman at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. As a senior, he ranked second on the team in scoring average and had three top-10 finishes during the season. Velazquez also received Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar honors from the Golf Coaches Association of America.

The NGA Pro Golf Tour is the No. 3 Men’s Professional Golf Tour in the United States after the PGA and Nationwide Tours and is the No. 1 recommended developmental tour by more PGA and Nationwide Tour Professionals.

The NGA has helped hundreds of professionals acquire their PGA, Euro, Nationwide, and Champions Tour cards. In fact, NGA alumni have won an incredible Fourteen (14) “Major” Championships.

NGA Alumni include: 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley; 2010 PGA Tour Player of the Year and 2003 US Open Champion Jim Furyk; 2009 British Open Champion Stewart Cink; 2009 US Open Champion Lucas Glover; 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson; 2003 PGA Champion Shaun Micheel; 2003 British Open Champion Ben Curtis; two-time US Open Champion Lee Janzen; British Open and PGA Champion John Daly; British Open Champion Tom Lehman; PGA Champion David Toms; 2003 Tour Championship Winner Chad Campbell; 2010 NGA Player of the Year Michael Thompson; 2011 PGA winners Sean O'Hair, Scott Piercy, Scott Stallings, Bubba Watson, Mark Wilson, Gary Woodland and many, many more.

At this year’s PGA Tour Qualifying School, 15 of the 29 players earning full exempt status on the PGA Tour and 35 of the 52 players earning full exempt status on the Nationwide Tour were past NGA Professionals (reference Another 16 NGA Professionals advanced to the PGA Tour for 2012 by finishing inside the Top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list, including 2011 NGA members Ted Potter Jr., Russell Knox and Billy Hurley III.

The NGA Pro Golf Tour, established in 1988, predates the Nationwide Tour as the longest running developmental tour in golf. For more information on the NGA or the NGA Pro Golf Tour, please visit our website at or contact our Tour Office at (800) 992-8748.

NGA Pro Golf Tour
Ryan Waters