Another Twenty Graduate to the Big Show

By Sports NetworkNovember 30, 2004, 5:00 pm
Nationwide TourThe 2004 Nationwide Tour has come to a close and with it, 20 players moving on to the PGA Tour. All 20 of those players advanced through their finish on the money list. There were no three- time winners this season, but five players won two events apiece.
 
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The player of the year also has one of the best names in the business. Jimmy Walker does not resemble his name-sake of acting lore that starred in the 1970's sitcom 'Good Times,' but he did collect two wins and seven top-10 finishes.
 
Walker's season was dynamite. He burst onto the scene quickly with a win at the season-opening Panama Open. After the tour returned to the U.S. from Australia and New Zealand, it was more of the same for Walker.
 
He picked up win No. 2 at the Louisiana Open, the first event on the U.S. mainland. Walker cooled over the next few weeks with two missed cuts in a four-week span.
 
However, the 25-year-old wrapped a sixth-place finish and a tie for fourth around the second of those two missed cuts. After his tie for fourth at Knoxville, Walker went eight straight events without a top-10 finish.
 
Walker got back in the groove and helped secure his playing privileges on the PGA Tour with two runner-up finishes in a three-start stretch. He finished four shots off the pace to share second place at the Virginia Beach Open. Two weeks later, he ended two strokes short of Scott Gump at the Boise Open.
 
Walker finished outside the top-25 in the final three events, but still won the money title by nearly $40,000 over D.A. Points.
 
Despite being inconsistent off the tee, Walker ranked 120th in driving accuracy, he did rank ninth in driving distance. It was Walker's putter that saved him as he ranked sixth in putting average (1.744 putt per round), which in turn helped him finish fifth in scoring average (70.06)
 
Walker joined the tour in 2002 when he made the cut in eight of 10 starts, with two top-10 finishes. He improved that in 2003 with five top-10s in 18 starts before moving into the winners circle for the first time in 2004.
 
Joining Walker as two-time winners this season were Points, Charles Warren, Kevin Stadler and Daniel Chopra, who won twice in just three starts on tour. Points, Warren and Stadler will join Walker on the PGA Tour next year as they all finished in the top-20 on the Nationwide Tour money list. Chopra will also be a PGA Tour member next year as he finished 108th on that tour's money list this season.
 
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
After picking up two international wins, Brendan Jones decided to bring his talents to the Nationwide Tour in 2004. Despite the fact he played in only eight events, Jones finished sixth on the money list with five top-10 finishes in six cuts made.
 
Jones opened the season with a tie for second in his homeland at the Jacob's Creek Open Championship in Australia. He came right back the following week with another tie for second at the New Zealand PGA Championship.
 
The 29-year-old missed the cut at the Henrico County Open in May, in what was his first start on U.S. soil in 2004. Jones lost to Chris Anderson in a four- way playoff the following week at the Carolina Classic
 
Jones shared fourth at Knoxville, then finally broke through. He carded a final-round 67 to pass D.A. Points and win the LaSalle Bank Open by one stroke.
 
The Australian took a break from the tour for over two months at that point, but continued competing at a much higher stage. Jones competed in three straight majors on the PGA Tour.
 
He missed the cut by three at the U.S. Open, then missed the cut by two across the pond at the British Open and finally fell six strokes short of the cut at the PGA Championship.
 
Jones returned to the Nationwide Tour the week after the PGA Championship and missed the cut at the Alberta Classic. His final event was the season-ending Tour Championship where he finished 52nd, but his PGA Tour card was secured.
 
Jones also collected two wins on the Japan Golf Tour in 2004 that for a time had boosted him into the top-100 in the world rankings.
 
TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR
Proving his worth as the player of the year, Jimmy Walker had his hand on the tournament of the year as well. At the Louisiana Open, Walker trailed Robert Garrigus by eight strokes entering the final round.
 
Garrigus posted a birdie and an eagle on the opening nine, but they were off- set by two bogeys and a double-bogey. On the back nine, Garrigus continued to struggle with two more bogeys and a triple-bogey leading to a final-round 78.
 
Walker meanwhile birdied four of his first nine holes to jump into contention a minus-13. After a bogey at the 13th, he bounced back to birdie 14.
 
Walker proved to be dynamite down the stretch and closed with three straight birdies to get to 16-under. He held on to win as Rick Price closed with a 68 to end at minus-15 and Charley Hoffman got within two with a final-round 66.
 
The eight-stroke comeback matched the third-best comeback in Nationwide Tour history. Gary Hallberg, 2002 Northeast Pennsylvania Classic, and John Flannery, 1991 Reno Open, erased 10-stroke deficits. Stan Utley also erased an eight-stroke deficit at the 1995 Louisiana Open.
 
GOOD YEAR
The five two-time winners all had solid seasons. Those five were Jimmy Walker, D.A. Points, Charles Warren, Kevin Stadler and Daniel Chopra. Each won two tournaments this season and earned their playing privileges on the PGA Tour for the 2005 season.
 
Franklin Langham, a six-year PGA Tour veteran, regained his privileges for the PGA Tour with a fourth-place finish on the Nationwide Tour money list. Langham got to that point with a win, two runner-up finishes, a third place finish and eight top-10s overall. Langham finished in the top-10 in seven different statistical categories including leading the tour in scoring average (69.80).
 
Ryuji Imada picked up his second tour win and finished third on the Nationwide Tour money list. To go along with his win, he had five top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 18 cuts made. Imada's top stat was his 70.00 scoring average that placed him fourth in that category.
 
BAD YEAR
Ty Tryon turned pro as a teenager, but that move now seems to have been a mistake. Tryon, who turned 20 in June, played two years on the PGA Tour and finished 242nd in 2002 and 196th in 2003 on the PGA Tour money list. His troubles continued on the Nationwide Tour as he made just six cuts in 22 starts in 2004. He earned just $9,058, placing him 199th on the money list, with his best finish a tie for 48th at the West Virginia Classic.
 
Dave Stockton, Jr., who was a PGA Tour member for eight years, came in 145th on the money list with just seven cuts made in 23 events started. He did manage two top-25 finishes among those seven made cuts.
 
It is tough to pick on a guy who finished 33rd on the money list, but for Jason Buha things could have and should have been a lot better. Buha played on the PGA Tour in 2000 and 2003, but this year he played in a Nationwide Tour- high 30 events. He did make 19 cuts, but posted just five top-10 finishes and was unable to reclaim his PGA Tour card with his 33rd place finish on the money list.
 
Related Links:
  • The Year in Review
  • Getty Images

    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

    Getty Images

    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

    Getty Images

    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

    Getty Images

    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry