After unorthodox path to PGA Tour, rookie Eric Cole nearly wins Honda in playoff

While Eric Cole didn’t walk away with a win, that moment is long overdue.

The 34-year-old PGA Tour rookie in his 15th start lost to Chris Kirk at the Honda Classic – a tournament in Cole’s hometown – on the first hole of the playoffs. Cole had a 10-foot birdie that would have extended the playoffs, however he didn’t make it. But given everything the Delray Beach resident had been through, he dreamed of such a week.

“If you gave me a chance to win a playoff tournament on Wednesday night, I think I would take it,” Cole said Sunday night at the PGA National. “In general, this is positive. I can learn a lot from him.”

Full results from Honda Classic

Cole is the son of PGA Tour winner and British amateur Bobby Cole and former LPGA professional Laura Beau, who won the 1971 US Women’s Amateur Championship at the age of 16.

Eric Cole always wanted to be like his parents, although at times he wasn’t sure he would ever rise to their competitive level. And although he played with both of them from an early age, he showed a particular interest in his mother’s game.

“Spent a little more time playing with her as she grew up,” Cole said after the second round of the Honda Classic. “But they both helped a lot. For example, at a younger age, when I was a junior, I played more with my mother, and we sort of covered about the same distance. It’s like I learned a little more from her because of it.”

Cole went on to play collegiately at New Southeastern University. However, in his freshman year in 2006, he mysteriously began to lose weight and received a terrible diagnosis – he has type 1 diabetes. And Addison’s disease.

Cole lost 120 pounds but was still in contention for Freshman of the Year at the Sunshine State Conference.

He dropped out of college in 2008 to play on the Minor League Golf Tour in South Florida and turned into a mini-tour legend with 50 pro wins. But he never lost sight of the opportunity to play at the highest level.

After all, Cole rode several Korn Ferry Tour qualifiers on Monday to earn status for the 2020–21 season, which then turned it into full status for the 2022 KFT season. With a T-3 in the ’22 Korn Ferry Tour championship, he finally earned his PGA Tour card.

“It’s a long way,” Cole said. “Even before the Korn Ferry Tour, I played in many tournaments around the world. But yeah, it’s one of those things where if you’re good at golf, it kind of takes care of itself.”

Cole missed his first four cuts to start his rookie campaign, but then made five in a row and recorded a T-15 at Pebble Beach, his last start before the Honda Classic, where he almost added his name to the illustrious father-son roster. duets to win the Tour.

Cole misses victory at Honda Classic

Cole misses victory at Honda Classic

“I talked to [Cole]”Being new to the tour and as young as he is, I just assumed he was 24 like any other newcomer to the tour,” Kirk said after the final tour. sounds like to get to this level. I think it will last quite a long time. He has a really great game. I was impressed with the way he hit.”

It will be a fast turn for Cole. He received a sponsorship exemption from the upcoming Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, a venue he is intimately familiar with.

His mother remarried to a man who was a member of Bay Hill, and in the early 2000s she competed for Cole in the club championship, which Cole won by a wide margin.

Cole is also best friends with Sam Saunders, grandson of Arnold Palmer. Cole coached Saunders until 2020 when he was promoted to Korn Ferry Tour status.

If Cole can quickly avenge his loss at the Honda Classic, Arnie’s Place would be the perfect setting for his first Tour win.


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