Larry Bohannan, Palm Springs Desert Sun
Charlie Reiter will get a second chance at making his first PGA TOUR cut next month at the Desert Classic.
Reiter, who played in his first tour event at the 2018 Desert Classic while still a senior at Palm Desert High School, has been extended a second sponsor’s exemption for the tournament Jan. 17-20.
"It was pretty amazing just being able to play on the PGA TOUR. It's my dream," Reiter said. "I'm really grateful to be able to play again."
Now a freshman at USC, Reiter played well in the 2018 Desert Classic, opening with rounds of 68 and 70 while impressing tour pros with his length off the tee. Playing the week while his father was in the hospital, Reiter stumbled to a third-round 5-over 77 on the Stadium Course at PGA West to miss the 54-hole cut.
“We always said this tournament represents the future of golf,” said Desert Classic executive director Jeff Sanders. “With Charlie going to USC now and playing college golf in Southern California and being from Southern California, this is just something we want to do.”
Reiter said the tournament had talked to him about playing again this year but he didn't get the phone call from Sanders confirming his invitation until a few days ago.
Sanders said he hopes a second start in a PGA TOUR event will be something that helps Reiter.
“We want to give the kid a chance to further his golf,” Sanders said. “These experiences the kids have, think about some of these kids who have had a chance to play in some of these events when they were in college, like Aaron Wise, Rickie Fowler, Sam Saunders, it seems like it has really helped them.”
At USC this year, Reiter has played four tournaments for the Trojans so far, with a scoring average of 71.58. His best individual finish in an event was a tie for sixth at the Fighting Illini Invitational.
"I've played in four tournaments and so everything is good," Reiter said. "Now I have to get ready for the spring (schedule)."
Just this week Reiter posted a 7-under 63 at The Palms Golf Club in La Quinta, setting an amateur course record at the venue.
"It's lust a little different. I have a little more experience," Reiter said of returning to the Desert Classic. "It should be a better week this year."
In addition to Reiter, the tournament has announced five past champions and one player who shares the tournament’s single-round scoring record are among the latest names committing to the desert’s PGA TOUR event next month.
Jason Dufner, the 2016 winner, and Jhonattan Vegas, the 2011 winner, will both return to the event in 2019. Also among the latest players to commit to the $5.9 million event are 2003 winner Mike Weir, 2007 winner Charley Hoffman and 2009 champion Pat Perez.
Adam Hadwin, the Canadian star who shot a 59 at La Quinta Country Club in the third round of the 2017 event and who played on the final threesome on Sunday in both 2016 and 2017, will also return to the desert. Other players to make commitments recently are tour winners Kevin Na and Kevin Kisner.
Those players join golfers who have previously committed to the event, including defending champion Jon Rahm, two-time tournament winner and tournament ambassador Phil Mickelson and two-time winner Bill Haas.
Top names also already in the field include Patrick Cantlay and past major championship winners Graeme McDowell and Charl Schwartzel.
The Desert Classic will be played Jan. 17-20 at La Quinta Country Club, the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West and the Stadium Course at PGA West, all in La Quinta.