28th August 2017 | Sunshine Tour
Kyle leads pilgrimage of young Americans
By Michael Vlismas
It’s being called the Brooks Koepka route to success, and the number of young Americans who are making their way onto the Sunshine Tour are devout followers of what they believe is indeed a ticket to similar professional glory.
When Koepka won the US Open this year, it highlighted in the minds of a new generation of American professionals that there is more than one way to success than the PGA Tour.
Koepka took a non-traditional route by honing his craft on the Challenge Tour and then the European Tour before reaching the pinnacle as a Major winner.
Peter Uihlein has also been vocal about the benefit of building an all-round game on the European Tour, and he’s also featured regularly on the Sunshine Tour.
There are three Americans in the field for this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at the Zimbali Country Club, and amongst them is a professional who believes the Koepka route is definitely the way to go.
Kyle Pilgrim is currently in his rookie season on the Sunshine Tour. The Houston professional came close to a win when he challenged for the opening tournament on this year’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Tour at Highland Gate last month and then finished 13th.
“You know, I played the Canadian Tour for a year but realised I wasn’t moving forward in my career. So I did a study of all the tours and, in my opinion, the Sunshine Tour offers you the quickest route onto a major tour like the European Tour than any other similar tour in the world,” said Pilgrim.
A trickle of American professionals have long been coming out to play in South Africa. But Pilgrim believes this will start to gain more traction after Koepka and Uihlein have shown how rewarding it can be.
“Some guys in the US just don’t want to travel. But I’m 24 and single so it was a no brainer for me, especially once I researched the exemptions you can get on the Sunshine Tour and to European Tour Qualifying School and so on. You can go directly to the European Tour from here. It’s been a great move for me.
“Also, after Brooks won the US Open, it was spoken about a lot on the Golf Channel about how he took this different route. And now his brother Chase is doing the same. So I think you’ll see a few more young American golfers following that.”