Youth will be served with the four unrestricted sponsor’s exemptions of the 2017 Valspar Championship presented by BB&T as four recent or current college stars will tee it up in the PGA TOUR event that begins on March 9 on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort.
Two of the players, Lee McCoy and Jimmy Stanger, have local ties.
Lee McCoy returns as an exemption for the second straight year. Raised in Pinellas County, the former University of Georgia All-American finished fourth as an amateur in the 2016 Valspar Championship, shooting 66-69 on the weekend for a final score of 4-under-par 280. McCoy has been off the course in recent months due to injuries suffered in an auto accident, but is expected to be back in good shape for the Valspar.
The other local golfer is Jimmy Stanger of Tampa, a senior at the University of Virginia who won the 2016 Southern Amateur in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Stanger, a three-time choice as the Hillsborough County High School Golfer of the Year while playing for Gaither High, was an All-ACC choice last year at Virginia and is a two-time Academic All-ACC selection. He has recently been named to the Ben Hogan player of the year watch list and is currently #29 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (photo of Stanger attached).
The other two exemptions are Beau Hossler, a one-time teammate of Jordan Spieth at the University of Texas, and Zach Wright of LSU.
Hossler won the Fred Haskins Award last spring as the top player in college golf and rose to second in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, but then missed several months of competition with a shoulder injury. He returned this fall to turn pro and recently finished 49th in his first PGA TOUR event, the Farmers Insurance Open. Hossler was given his exemption after winning the 2016 3M Augusta State Invitational.
Wright becomes the third winner of the Valspar Invitational collegiate event to win an exemption to the PGA TOUR Valspar Championship. Playing for LSU, he defeated Chandler Phillips of Texas A&M in a playoff for the title playing. Texas A&M is the school of the 2015 Valspar Invitational winner Greg Yates who finished 22nd in the 2016 Valspar Championship. Wright, a member of last year’s USA Palmer Cup team, played as an amateur in the 2016 Zurich Classic.
Source: Official Valspar Championship Press Release