Here’s what you need to know from the BMW Charity Pro-Am, the seventh event of the Nationwide Tour season.
1. Party on, Garth: Garth Mulroy, a 32-year-old South African, collected his second Nationwide Tour victory by defeating PGA Tour rookie Sunghoon Kang in a playoff. Mulroy two-putted for par on Thornblade Club’s 491-yard 18th hole, then watched Kang miss a 2-foot par putt. Kang had hit his approach into a greenside bunker.
“You never expect someone to miss from that distance but it happens,” Mulroy said. “I was pretty shocked.”
Mulroy and Kang tied at 18-under 268.
The victory moved Mulroy to No. 2 on the money list. He graduated from the Nationwide Tour in 2009, but finished 181st on last year’s PGA Tour money list. He posted just one top-25 in 19 Tour starts last year.
2. Call of duty: Kang, of Jeju, Korea, played the BMW after failing to get into the field at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. The 23-year-old is exempt from his country’s two-year military requirement because he won a gold medal at the 2006 Asian games, but he had to take six weeks off earlier this season to attend basic training and fulfill the service commitment.
He missed three consecutive cuts after returning to the Tour in mid-April. The BMW was his first career Nationwide Tour event.
“I missed so many putts today, it’s really disappointing,” said Kang, who had 34 putts during the final round, including 18 on the back nine. “I’ve got to work on my putting a little bit more.”
Kang was the 18-hole leader at this year’s Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour, but hasn’t finished better than 19th this season. He started the week 194th on the PGA Tour money list with just $64,920 in earnings. He’s now 13th on the Nationwide Tour’s money list.
3. The swing’s the thing: Another Korean-born player, Danny Lee, finished third, one shot out of the playoff. Lee, the 2008 U.S. Amateur champion, was done in by Thornblade Club’s par-5 16th. He made bogey on the 542-yard hole Sunday, one day after making 8 there. Lee shot 65 Sunday.
“It’s an easy par-5 but somehow that hole makes me really nervous,” Lee said. “That tee shot is just so hard for me.”
Lee, 20, is now No. 10 on the Nationwide Tour money list after three consecutive finishes of seventh or better; he also finished second at the European Tour’s China Open during that stretch. His next two starts will be in Europe, at this week’s BMW PGA Championship and the Wales Open.
“He feels very comfortable with his swing now,” said his instructor, Bill Choung. “That is the key word: now it’s ‘his’ swing.”
4. Boil, boil: Travis Hampshire, a Purdue alum, used a first-round 60 to finish fourth, his best career Nationwide Tour finish. Hampshire shot 3-over 39 on his final nine to finish two shots out of the playoff.
The Nationwide Tour rookie had missed the cut in his past three starts and was a combined 16 over par in his past six rounds. He’s now No. 31 on the Nationwide Tour money list.
Hampshire was in a six-way tie for fourth with Roberto Castro, Will Mackenzie, Andrew Buckle, B.J. Staten and Brent Delahoussaye.
5. Going low: Argentina’s Julian Etulain is No. 34 on the Nationwide Tour money list after finishing third earlier this year in the Bogota Open. Etulain is not a tour member, though, so he could not get into this week’s BMW Charity Pro-Am. He played the Tour de las Americas’ Televisa Players Championship instead, winning by six shots after rounds of 66-63-60.
MOVED INSIDE THE TOP 25
Rank Name (Previous rank), Earnings
•2. Garth Mulroy (68), $123,065
•13. Sunghoon Kang (NR), $64,800
•20. Andrew Buckle (29), $56,595
•22. Roberto Castro (33), $54,288