Aggie assistant Tom Johnson qualifies for PGA TOUR event

HONOLULU, HawaiiUC Davis assistant men’s golf coach Tom Johnson, a former member of the PGA TOUR, will have more firsthand professional experience to pass along to the Aggies this season after qualifying on Monday for this week’s Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

Johnson, who is in his first season with the Aggies, shot a 6-under 66 at the Palmer Course at Turtle Bay to finish as one of four qualifiers for the Sony Open in Hawaii which is the first full tournament on this year’s PGA schedule. Trey Mullinax (-7), Roger Sloan (-6) and Curtis Thompson (-5) are the other qualifiers from Monday’s competition. A total of 77 players teed it up looking for a coveted berth. Johnson advanced to Monday’s official qualifying tournament after finishing among the top 40 at a pre-qualifier on Sunday.

Johnson has earned nearly $200,000 during his professional career, competing in 27 events including playing on the 2007 PGA TOUR. He’s played in eight USGA championships as well as the British Amateur Championship. Johnson pursued his pro career after earning two All-America honors and three All-Big Ten awards at Northwestern where he played alongside Luke Donald, currently ranked among the top golfers in the world.

Among his responsibilities with the Aggies during his short tenure has been helping open the John and Diane Watson Short Game Training Center at El Macero Country Club, home course for UC Davis. It’s an impressive facility that he credits for this week’s success.

“There’s no doubt that the short game facility helped me to qualify this week,” he said. “I didn’t miss an up and down in the pre-qualifier or the Monday qualifier.”

Waialae Country Club measures 7,044 yards and will play to par 70. Practice rounds will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday with 18 holes scheduled from Thursday through Sunday. The Golf Channel will televise all four rounds with NBC airing partial coverage on Sunday.

The UC Davis men’s golf team enters its spring season ranked 63rd by Golfstat. The Aggies will be in Hawaii next month for their opener, competing in the 24th annual Amer Ari Invitational in Waikoloa on Feb. 5-7.