Ben James, the reigning NCAA Outstanding Freshman of the Year and a rising star in the world of golf, has been creating a buzz ahead of the Travelers Championship. With an impressive five-win campaign during his freshman year at the University of Virginia, James has caught the attention of seasoned professionals and sponsors alike. His recent practice round alongside Rickie Fowler, a prominent figure in the golfing world, only solidified his potential for greatness.
As the son of Don James, the proud owner of a full-length Fowler poster from 15 years ago, Ben James shared a moment of nostalgia with the seasoned golfer. However, it was James' remarkable talent that truly stood out during the practice round at TPC River Highlands. Observing James' powerful swing, Fowler acknowledged the young golfer's potential as they walked the fairway, attracting a crowd of family, friends, and intrigued onlookers.
James' inclusion in the Travelers Championship field as a sponsor exemption for the second consecutive year was a natural choice for tournament officials. Hailing from Milford, Connecticut, a mere 40 miles away from the event, James has cultivated a sense of familiarity and local support. What sets James apart from other amateur players is his remarkable ease in navigating a professional landscape that features many of the world's top-ranked players, a testament to the opportunities afforded by the current era of golf.
The emergence of PGA TOUR University, a program designed to groom talented collegiate golfers for professional success, has played a significant role in James' development. Inspired by the achievements of fellow collegians such as Michael Thorbjornsen, who finished in an impressive tie for fourth place in the tournament the previous year, James recognizes the value of PGA TOUR University. Reflecting on the recent successes of Adrien Dumont de Chassart and Ricky Castillo, both highly ranked PGA TOUR University graduates, James understands the potential that lies ahead.
Excited about the prospects that PGA TOUR University offers, James expressed admiration for his fellow collegians, describing them as not only talented golfers but also exceptional individuals. James finds solace in the fact that he will be competing among a group of peers, including professionals like Ludvig Aberg and Sam Bennett, who also ranked highly on the PGA TOUR University list. This support network and shared experience contribute to James' increased confidence as he approaches this year's Travelers Championship.
During his practice round with Fowler, James showcased his composure and ability to hold his own among elite golfers. His solid performance, including reaching the par-5 13th in two shots and confidently driving the challenging par-4 15th, left no doubt that James possesses the skill and temperament necessary to excel in professional competition.
While James enjoyed the opportunity to play alongside Fowler and learn from his expertise, he also recognized the importance of observation. Fowler shared his own experiences as an amateur, acknowledging that he learned the most by closely observing professionals. This approach resonates with James, who aims to gain knowledge and improve his game by studying the techniques and decision-making of seasoned players.
As James bids farewell to Fowler and heads in a different direction, one can't help but envision a future where he becomes a regular attendee at PGA TOUR players' meetings. His remarkable talent, strong work ethic, and poise in the face of professional competition make James a promising prospect for the future of golf.
In conclusion, Ben James, the NCAA Freshman of the Year, has garnered attention with his impressive performance and signing an NIL deal with Puma. With his inclusion in the Travelers Championship as a sponsor exemption and his ability to hold his own among professionals, James exemplifies the potential of PGA TOUR University graduates. His journey and interactions