Newlywed Kizzire contending in Vegas


While many of his rookie brethren made their debuts last week in Napa, Patton Kizzire was on the other side of the country - and for good reason.

The likely Tour Player of the Year spent his first week as a PGA Tour member getting married, exchanging vows with his wife, Kari, Oct. 17 in Georgia and postponing his first start of the new wraparound season to this week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

After a season that included two wins and more than $550,000 in on-course earnings, Kizzire is fully exempt this season and has already locked up a spot in the Players Championship. He opened with a 6-under 65 in Las Vegas, then followed that with a 2-under 69 to move within a shot of Nick Watney and Brendon de Jonge.

It's a strong start for the newlywed, who admitted prior to the event that he now has to adjust to playing golf with a wedding band on his finger.

"Even though a lot of good golf stuff has happened, getting married is the biggest event of the year and of my life so far," Kizzire said. "I'm super excited to be a husband and to start my year on the PGA Tour as a husband and see what I can do."

After a standout career at Auburn, the 29-year-old has been slow to develop in the professional ranks and had to survive Q-School last fall just to earn his Tour card. But Kizzire blazed through the developmental circuit this year, with 12 top-10 finishes in 23 starts. He is eager to build on that momentum on a bigger stage and against some familiar foes.

"I know a lot of these guys that are out here. I've competed against them, and I'm sure I'll put myself in some uncomfortable spots, but that's what I want to do," he said. "I think that's where the growth happens is whenever you get in uncomfortable spots."

Kizzire bogeyed the first two holes of his second round, but bounced back with four birdies in an eight-hole stretch. He listed the Masters and the Ryder Cup among his goals during a pre-tournament press conference, and after watching fellow rookie Emiliano Grillo win last week in Napa, he hopes to join him shortly in the winner's circle - and perhaps next spring at Augusta National.

"I want to look back and say that I gave myself the best chance to play well. I want to win," he said. "I'm taking it week by week and trying to get in the mix, just get off to a good, smooth start and then wake up and find myself in a good spot."