Texas exes Hammer, Hossler off to good start at

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ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — Cole Hammer would have been happy with pars in the cold and wind off Sea Island. He wound up with more birdies than he imagined Thursday for an 8-under 64 and the low score to par after one round of the RSM Classic.

“It was really cool looking at the top (of the leaderboard) and seeing my last name there,” Hammer said.

Cool applied more literally to the field, with temperatures in the 50s and feeling even colder with the wind off the ocean. This was a day for wool caps, layers of long sleeves and mittens. As usual at this tournament, that didn’t stop the low scoring.

Hammer, who graduated from Texas in May, shared the low score with another Longhorn alum, Beau Hossler, whose 6-under 64 came at the host Seaside course, which played about two shots more difficult to par.

“He’s making me look average,” Hossler said when he finished his round and Hammer already was 8 under with three holes to play.

Hammer’s big run ended with a bad swing that sent him into the trees right of the par-5 eighth fairway. He took a penalty drop and wound up with a bogey.

Callum Tarren of England also had a 64 at Seaside, while Ben Griffin had a 7-under 65 on the Plantation course. Griffin had a great chance at winning in Bermuda three weeks ago until a rough back nine. In the final official PGA Tour event of 2022, he might get another.

For Hammer, a good start was just what he needed.

He has been on big stages before, qualifying for the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old. He missed the cut.

He did fine in a few Korn Ferry Tour starts after getting out of Texas. The PGA Tour was another matter, as Hammer found himself trying to hard and getting too impatient. The result was six consecutive missed cuts.

He thought he was headed for another in the Houston Open last week, his home tournament, when he opened with a 74.

“I missed my first six in a row. It was a pretty dark period,” Hammer said. “I felt like my game was close enough. I was just…

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