“Boo” leads field into 30th annual Open
Entering its 30th year, the Knoxville Open is one of the original four tournaments from 1990 that are still on the Web.com Tour schedule. Many famous Web.com Tour alumni have played in Knoxville on their way to the PGA TOUR. In the inaugural event in 1990, future PGA TOUR champion Jeff Maggert won at 11-under against a field that included current Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee (T5), two-time major champion John Daly (T31) and 2006 PLAYERS Champion Stephen Ames (T57). Other notables to compete over the years include 13-time PGA TOUR champion David Toms (1990, 1995), two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson (2005), former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover (2002, 2003) and former PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker (2003, 2004, 2007).
Winning scores have fluctuated between 26-under (2016) and 9-under (1994) since moving to Fox Den Country Club in 1999. Last year Stephan Jaeger topped future Web.com Tour Player of the Year Sungjae Im by three strokes at 16-under 268. The 36-hole cut came at 1-under last year but came at 3-under and 5-under in 2017 and 2016, respectively. The par-71 course ranked as the 10th-toughest course on Tour last year with a 70.883 scoring average.
Several players with local ties will compete at Fox Den Country Club. Wes Roach, a Knoxville resident and Duke University alum, will return to Fox Den after a T4 finish last year. Another local, East Tennessee State University alum Eric Axley, will compete in his hometown event for the ninth time. Former University of Tennessee star Rick Lamb will also compete for the fourth time. The 28-year-old finished T3 in 2016 on his way to earning his PGA TOUR card.
Throughout the tournament’s extensive history, many players have won the Knoxville Open and gone on to reach success at the PGA TOUR level. Twelve of the 29 champions have gone on to win on the PGA TOUR with 29 total victories between them. Jeff Maggert (1990), Heath Slocum (2001) and Chris Kirk (2010) lead the way with four PGA TOUR victories apiece. Darron Stiles (2002, 2012) and Hunter Haas (2004, 2006) are the only two-time champions of the event, while J.J. Spaun (2016) holds the tournament record at 26-under.