Why this PGA Tour Rookie of the Year nominee is playing a mini tour event this week

PGA Tour pro Eric Cole plays 2023 Minor League Golf Tour Championship event

Eric Cole is hoping to close out the year with a mini-tour win.

@PGA Tour on X

Eric Cole has had a heck of year on the PGA Tour, playing well enough to earn a place on the Rookie of the Year short list. One thing Cole didn’t capture in 2023 was a victory, but he hasn’t given up on that pursuit just yet.

Cole, a 35-year-old Tour rookie this past season, collected seven top-10s in 37 starts. Among those top-10s were runner-up finishes at the Honda Classic and Zozo Championship, and he closed the year out in style: T3-T2-T3. His winnings for his troubles? $5,457,030.

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On Monday, Cole’s feats on the course were officially acknowledged when the PGA Tour named him as one of four finalists for the Arnold Palmer Award (Rookie of the Year).

But Cole is not one to rest on his laurels, not even for a day. On Tuesday, the Rookie of the Year nominee chose to tee it up in a mini tour event, the Minor League Golf Tour Championship.

The tournament, officially called the 2023 MLGT Tour Championship presented by Abacoa Golf Club, is a two-day event in Jupiter, Fla., featuring a 90-player field. The entry fee is $660, and the winner gets $10,000.

Cole’s PGA Tour membership is completely locked up for next year, so why exactly is he choosing to grind it out with the mini tour pros?

“It’s part of my DNA. I just like it,” Cole told the PGA Tour. “It will show how good a lot of guys out here are, that casual fans haven’t heard of.”

“And if they end up beating me, I hope they’ll realize how close to success they really are.”

So much for getting beat. In Tuesday’s opening round, Cole fired a 62 to take a three-shot lead heading into the finale on Wednesday.

He faces stiffer competition in the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year race. Joining him as nominees are Ludvig Aberg, Nico Echavarria and Vincent Norrman.

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