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Reader Questions: Can Karsten Host a PGA Tour Event, When Does Wolff Turn Pro?

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I got some good reader questions this week via email (all golf-related and all from the same person!) If you guys ever want to reach out you can do so at kyle dot goodwin dot porter at gmail dot com or pistolfiringblog at gmail dot com.

First off, I want to say that I have very much enjoyed your coverage of the national championship. It must be pretty cool for you to have your worlds collide like this.

Anyway, I read your 9 nine thoughts, which was exceptional by the way, and had some thoughts of my own.

First off, with Wolff. Oh man, what a stud. You’ve suggested in your writing and in your tweets that you believe he will be a pro, probably sooner than later. My question is what is the normal timeline for stud college players like that to turn pro? Is it something he could do now if he wants? Does he have to be a certain age? What have other guys with his pedigree done and when? I would love to have at least another year of Wolff at OSU but admittedly have no idea what to expect.

Which brings me to my next question – Is Hovland a future pro? Obviously he was an All-American selection and top 5 player in the country most of the year and is just a sophomore himself. I can’t remember where I saw this, or who said it, but someone described his game as “he just fairways and greens you death.” which lead me to believe he is a tremendous college player but maybe doesn’t have the juice to be a pro? I personally love his game.

My last point is just how awesome it was to see an OSU team carry itself with such swagger and confidence this week, on the biggest stage. Bauchou was elite in his comments as you mentioned. It is not normal to see that from an OSU team. Gundy carries a quiet confidence and that trickles down to his players. Our hoops teams just haven’t had much to boast about. Holliday and the baseball program has it’s moments, and i’m sure wrestling does as well. It just cool to see osu players and coaches know they are the best and act like it. I love it.

Bonus question: Any chance Karsten can/will host a PGA Tour event in the near future? -Seth K.

First, no PGA Tour event for Karsten. They’re impossible to get and generally associated with a massive company that resides directly in the area for sponsorship purposes (see: The National moving to Detroit). Karsten just doesn’t fit the profile, and I’m not even sure they want to. PGA Tour events are very disruptive for courses, members and communities.

Let’s say Karsten held an event in October during the fall season. That’s a week or two where OSU isn’t getting to practice on its own course. This is of course offset by the money and prestige that goes along with hosting a PGA Tour event, but it highlights the disruption often affiliated with (but rarely discussed about) playing host at the highest level.

As for Wolff, he can probably turn pro whenever, though I suspect he has another two semesters in him. Spieth left after his third semester. Norman Xiong of Oregon just left after his sophomore year (although him and Wolff are the same age). A talent evaluator for an agency at the NCAAs explained it to me like this: You leave when you hit your tipping point for marketability. I’m not sure Wolff is there yet, but I’d be stunned if he played in Stillwater past his sophomore year.

Actually, let’s take a look at when the last 10 freshmen of the year turned pro.

2008 — Fowler: After sophomore year (Walker Cup)
2009 — Hoffmann: After sophomore year
2010 — Williams: After senior year
2011 — Cantlay: After sophomore year
2012 — Thomas: After sophomore year
2013 — Stone: After freshman year
2014 — Shelton: After junior year
2015 — Scheffler: After senior year
2016 — Horsfield: After sophomore year
2017 — Xiong: After sophomore year
2018 — Wolff: ???

So six of the last 10 have left after two years, and one left after his freshman year. Xiong, Horsfield, Fowler and Thomas could not have had higher ceilings, and they all stayed two years. I think based on that info and the fact that Wolff hasn’t won a college tournament yet, he stays through next season and then leaves.

Hovland is definitely a pro. I’m just not sure what kind. Will he play on the PGA Tour for 20 straight years like Wolff might? Probably not, but he could do the European Tour like Peter Uihlein and maybe go back and forth. He’s very, very good. Lower ceiling because he doesn’t swing it like Wolff, but he also might have a higher floor.

Final note here: Wolff is the No. 25 amateur in the world right now. And the third-highest ranked amateur on his own team. Zach Bauchou (No. 21) and Viktor Hovland (No. 5) are both ranked ahead of him, and with a few guys ahead of him turning pro over the next few weeks, Hovland has a chance to become OSU’s fourth No. 1 amateur ever.

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