Five things you need to know from the Nationwide Tour’s Miccosukee Championship, the second-to-last full-field event on the Nationwide Tour:
1. Digging the long ball: Jason Kokrak, the tour’s longest hitter, shot 20-under 264 to win by seven shots, the fifth-largest winning margin in tour history. It was the second victory of the year for Kokrak, who averages 320.6 yards per tee shot. He moved to fourth on the money list and is guaranteed of a PGA Tour card for 2012.
“This is beyond my imagination. I don’t know if it will hit me for a while,” Kokrak said after shooting 66 during a rainy final round. “I would never have dreamt this.”
Kokrak played college golf at Xavier and was medalist at the 2007 U.S. Amateur. He was leading money winner on the eGolf Professional Tour in 2010 and finished second on the money list this year in just three starts. He won twice and finished second in the other. He’s near the top of the Nationwide Tour money list in just 14 starts after starting the season with conditional status. He didn’t make his first Nationwide Tour start until May.
Steve Wheatcroft set the tour record for largest winning margin with a 12-shot victory at this year’s Melwood Prince George’s County Open.
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2. Bubble boy: Mark Anderson skipped Q-School last year because he figured he needed more seasoning on the Nationwide Tour before a potential leap to the PGA Tour. Anderson appeared destined to stay on the secondary circuit after mediocre play for much of the season. His runner-up finish at Miccosukee changed that, though. The $64,800 moved him from 53rd to 25th on the money list.
“That was big. That salvaged the season,” he said. “It’s been kind of lackluster up until now, but this makes going into the last two tournaments a lot nicer.”
The top 25 at season’s end earn PGA Tour cards. Anderson is just $1,182 ahead of No. 26 Josh Broadaway. Here’s who is hovering around the top 25 as the season nears its conclusion:
20. Roberto Castro, $170,563
21. James Nitties, $169,250
22. Daniel Chopra, $167,637
23. Billy Hurley, $165,246
24. Brett Wetterich, $164,000
25. Mark Anderson, $163,942
26. Josh Broadaway, $162,760
27. Darron Stiles, $146,956
28. Marco Dawson, $135,673
29. Brenden Pappas, $134,331
30. Luke List, $134,120
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3. English’s patience: Harris English’s third-place finish moved him to 61st on the money list and kept alive his dreams of skipping Q-School. The top 60 players on the money list after this week’s Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open earn entry to next week’s Nationwide Tour Championship. That event’s $180,000 first-place check ensures that any player in the field can earn a Tour card. English trails No. 60 Andrew Buckle by $1,900.
English, who turned pro after this year’s Walker Cup, has finished in the top three in half of his six Nationwide Tour starts this season. He also won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational as an amateur and lost a playoff at the WNB Golf Classic. English would rank in the top 10 of the Nationwide Tour money list if he’d been pro for his win.
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4. Brice is right: Brice Garnett started the year without Nationwide Tour status and has made only eight starts this season, but he’s closing in on a berth in the Nationwide Tour Championship. Garnett finished second in the Children’s Hospital Classic two weeks ago after Monday qualifying. He was 18th at Miccosukee to earn another start this week. Garnett is 65th on the money list.
Garnett, who played college golf at Missouri Western State, won twice this year on the eGolf Professional Tour to finish fourth on the money list.
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5. Home cooking: Bud Cauley may have locked up his 2012 PGA Tour card with his 15th-place finish at last week’s McGladrey Classic, but he’ll play once more on the Nationwide Tour before making his first Tour start as a member.
Cauley, who grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., received a sponsor exemption into the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open. He finished fourth in his only Nationwide Tour start this year, at the Utah Championship.