Tournament chairman Pat McGinley stuck to his guns on Monday, filling his last two sponsor’s exemptions for the FBR Open with “young guns” Alejandro Canizares and Anthony Kim.
Canizares, a former All-American and NCAA medalist at Arizona State, plays on the European PGA Tour and last year captured the Russian Open as a rookie. That brought up an unusual situation, as the 24-year-old Spaniard had to withdraw from the Dubai Desert Classic, which is slated for the same week as the FBR Open (Feb. 1-4).
At age 21, Kim is the youngest card-carrying player on the PGA Tour this season. The rookie was an All-American for three straight years at Oklahoma before leaving last year after his junior season. Kim turned professional last summer and finished second at the Texas Valero Open in his Tour debut, and then tied for 16th the following week at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. Last week, he finished tied for 45th at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
“Both Alejandro and Anthony are exceptional young players,’’ said McGinley, who earlier awarded sponsor’s exemptions to crowd favorite John Daly, 1993 FBR/Phoenix Open winner Lee Janzen, and another rookie, Jeff Quinney, who tied for fourth at the Hope.
No doubt McGinley’s “youth movement” is based on building future relationships.
Last year, the Thunderbirds, the civic organization that runs the tournament, awarded an exemption to another former college standout, Camilo Villegas, who shocked the field by tying for second place.
Villegas, considered one of the rising stars on Tour, already has committed to the event at the TPC of Scottsdale.