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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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    Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

    By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

    The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

    Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

    ''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''

    Full-field scores from the Sanford International

    Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

    McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

    ''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

    Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

    ''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

    Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.

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    Glover (64) leads Tour Championship

    By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:12 am

    ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Tour Championship.

    The 38-year-old Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, can still regain his PGA Tour card through a medical extension if he fails to earn enough money in the four-tournament Tour Finals. But a high finish this weekend at Atlantic Beach Country Club would take care of everything.

    ''I've got a lot to fall back on regardless of this week, but any time I tee it up, I want to play well,'' Glover said. ''Tomorrow won't be any different. Sunday won't be any different.''

    Glover had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and will have eight starts to earn 53 FedEx Cup points and keep his card. He earned $17,212 in the first three Tour Finals events. The top 25 money winners in the series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 last year.

    Glover was at 14-under 128. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back. McCarthy, a former Virginia player, has a shot at winning the Finals money list, which would guarantee him fully exempt status and entry into The Players Championship.

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    ''There's no secret about it. I'll come out and tell you I'm here to win this tournament and get that No. 1 spot,'' McCarthy said. ''I've been hungry for a while. I have a pretty hungry attitude and I'm going to stay hungry.''

    Tour veteran Cameron Tringale, who has earned just $2,660 after missing two of the first three cuts, was 12 under after a 67. Last year, Tringale entered the Tour Championship at 63rd on the Finals money list and finished tied for fifth to get back onto the PGA Tour. He struggled again this season, though, missing 19 cuts in 26 starts.

    ''Yeah, I was hoping last year was my last time here, but I do have a comfort at this golf course and I'm excited to keep pressing,'' Tringale said.

    The four-tournament series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top 25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals.

    Sepp Straka and Ben Silverman were three shots back. Each would likely need a top-5 finish to earn his card.

    Peter Malnati, who regained his card with a second-place finish in the opening finals event, followed his opening-round 74 with a 9-under 62, shooting an 8-under 27 on his second nine.

    Four-time PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley was among those who missed the cut. He was 22nd on the finals money list going in and likely will fall short of earning his card.

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    Thomas (69) only three back with 'C' or 'D' game

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:56 pm

    ATLANTA – Justin Thomas was tied for fourth place following his second-round 69 on Friday at the Tour Championship, which considering the state of his game on Day 2 was an accomplishment.

    “I wish I had my 'B' game today. I would say I had my 'C' or 'D' game today,” he laughed.

    Thomas’ struggles were primarily with his driver and he hit just 6 of 14 fairways at East Lake, but he was able to scramble late in his round with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to remain three off the lead.

    Projected FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “I drove it so poorly today, this is probably in my top 5 rounds of the year I'm most proud of just because I easily could have shot 4- or 5-over par today and not had a chance to win the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there and birdied two of the last four, and I have a chance.”

    Thomas was slowed the last two weeks by a right wrist injury that limited his preparation for the finale and said the issue with his driver is timing and the byproduct of a lack of practice.

    Thomas made up for his erratic driving with his short game, getting up and down four out of seven times including on the fourth hole when he missed the fairway well left, punched out short of the green and chipped in from 81 feet.

    “[Rory McIlroy] just kind of said it looked like a ‘3’ the whole day and I kind of laughed because I played with him at The Players and I chipped in three times that first round with him, so I guess he's good luck for me,” Thomas said.

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    McIlroy two behind Woods, Rose after 68

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:46 pm

    ATLANTA – Maybe it should be no huge surprise that Rory McIlroy finds himself back in contention at the Tour Championship. It is, after all, a Ryder Cup year.

    In 2016, McIlroy won the finale before heading to Hazeltine and posting a 3-2-0 record. In ’14, he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel and went 2-1-2 at the Ryder Cup; and in ’12 he finished tied for 10th place at East Lake and went 3-2-0 at Medinah.

    “I was on such a high a couple of years ago going into Hazeltine after winning the whole thing, and I felt great about my game that week and played well. I won three matches,” McIlroy said. “I guess it doesn't matter whether it's a match play event or whatever. If you're playing well and you've played well the week before, I think most people can carry it into the next week, whatever that is.”

    Projected FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    McIlroy’s performance this week certainly qualifies as “playing well.” He charged out on Friday with birdies at two of his first three holes and bounced back from a pair of late bogeys to shoot a 68 and was in third place and two strokes off the lead held by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

    “I've made 12 birdies in 36 holes, which is really good around here, and that's with not birdieing either of the par 5s today,” he said. “So yeah, just tidy up the mistakes a little bit.”