Michael Putnam’s victory at the Nationwide Tour’s Utah Classic not only improved his chances of regaining his PGA Tour card, but made a difficult decision much easier.
Putnam and his wife, Kristina, are expecting their first child. The baby is scheduled to be born during the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship in Daniel Island, S.C., the last week of October.
“We’ve got all sorts of options going on,” he said. “But this helps out a lot. It’s huge. This takes a load off.”
Putnam earned $99,000 for the victory and moved from No. 47 to No. 15 on the money list. With $191,747 in earnings, he has a chance to clinch his PGA Tour card in advance of the Tour Championship.
The Utah Classic was Putnam’s first victory on either the PGA or Nationwide tours. The Pepperdine alum turned pro in 2005 after finishing second at the NCAA Championship and playing on the victorious U.S. Walker Cup team. His Walker Cup teammates included Anthony Kim, J.B. Holmes and Jeff Overton.
Putnam earned Nationwide Tour status at the 2005 Q-School. He finished 17th on the Nationwide Tour money list in his rookie year to earn a PGA Tour card. He finished 158th on the PGA Tour money list in ’07, and has been on the Nationwide Tour the past three seasons.
“I never played on the mini-tours and came right out here after college,” said Putnam, 27. “This is a tough place to win. I thought it might have come quicker than this, but it’s special that it came now.”
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PGA Tour member John Mallinger shot a final-round 64 to tie for seventh at the Utah Classic, his first Nationwide Tour start since 2006.
Mallinger, who’s also scheduled to play this week’s Albertsons Boise Open, is No. 128 on the PGA Tour money list. He’s using the Nationwide Tour to stay fresh as he enters the Fall Series, where he’ll have to play well to keep his PGA Tour card.
Mallinger made just one of his first 14 cuts this year (69th at Pebble Beach), but has finished in the top 25 in six of his past 10 PGA Tour starts. He tied for 22nd at the U.S. Open and tied for third in his last PGA Tour start, the Wyndham Championship.
Mallinger credited an improved attitude and a new caddie, Brent Henley, for his recent success. Henley and Mallinger started working together at Colonial, where Mallinger tied for 13th.
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A well-timed rally at the Utah Classic improved Brandt Jobe’s chances of returning to the PGA Tour.
Jobe shot 3-under 33 on his final nine of the second round to make the cut on the number, then shot 129 (65-64) to tie for fourth and move into the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list. Jobe’s weekend total was the best by three shots.
Jobe, 45, moved from 32nd to 23rd on the money list. The top 25 earn PGA Tour cards.
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Local pro Steve Schneiter shot 63 to Monday-qualify for the Utah Classic in his hometown. Schneiter tied for 24th, and is eligible to play in this week’s Boise Open.
Schneiter, an assistant professional at Schneiter’s Pebble Brook in Sandy, Utah, won the 1995 PGA Professional National Championship. He is a former BYU All-American.
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Manuel Villegas, younger brother of Camilo, won his first Hooters Tour title at last week’s Woodcreek Classic. He finished two shots ahead of Will Claxton and Michael Thompson, the 2007 U.S. Amateur runner-up.
Manuel Villegas is No. 154 on the Nationwide Tour money list. He has earned $13,255 in 11 events, with a best finish of sixth at the Moonah Classic. Camilo Villegas also won on the Hooters Tour, claiming the 2005 Savannah Lakes Village Classic.
Thompson is No. 2 on the Hooters Tour money list, less than $3,000 behind Matthew Harmon.
On the eGolf Professional Tour, Brian Harman, a two-time member of the U.S. Walker Cup team, won his first professional title at The Manor Classic. Harmon finished three shots ahead of 2009 Walker Cup teammate Drew Weaver and the tour’s leading money winner, Jason Kokrak.
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Chris Kirk, the Nationwide Tour’s leading money winner, used a hole-in-one in the Utah Classic’s first round to shoot 65 and take the lead. Kirk went on to tie for 17th. He’s earned $407,673 this season and leads Jamie Lovemark by $14,385. Kirk, Tommy Gainey and Martin Piller all have two Nationwide Tour victories. … John Chin, No. 2 in last season’s Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, will play this week’s Boise Open on a sponsor exemption. Former Boise State All-American Troy Merritt, a PGA Tour rookie, will also play the Boise Open.