Ben Kohles is having an impressive pro debut on the Web.com Tour. The Virginia product will begin Sunday’s final round of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, with a two-shot lead over three players. Kohles, one of 12 collegiate All-Americans given exemptions to the tournament, is trying to become the 13th player to win his Web.com Tour debut.
He turned pro this week after an 18th-place finish at last week’s Porter Cup. Kohles, a two-time ACC player of the year, won the prestigious Dogwood Invitational earlier this summer.
He is at 11-under 202 (66-69-67) at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational, two shots ahead of Aaron Watkins, Cliff Kresge and Trevor Murphy. Kohles is one of five All-Americans to make this week’s cut at Ohio State Golf Club’s Scarlet Course: Kohles, Luke Guthrie (T-8, 206), Jordan Spieth (T-15, 208), Cory Whitsett (T-31, 210) and Blayne Barber (T-40, 211). Kohles, Guthrie and Barber are competing as professionals.
Two All-American invitees have won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational in its five previous playings. Daniel Summerhays and Harris English were amateurs when they won in 2007 and 2011, respectively. Rickie Fowler lost a playoff as an amateur here in 2009.
Kohles would move to approximately 12th on the Web.com Tour money list with a victory. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational’s $800,000 purse is the second-largest of the season. First place is worth $144,000.
Even if Kohles doesn’t win, he can earn Web.com Tour status by finishing in a two-way tie for third or better (non-members earn status by surpassing No. 100 on the previous year’s money list). All players who finish in the top 25 will earn a start at next week’s event in Omaha, Neb.
Kohles may not be the most famous player among the invited All-Americans at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational – you’re likely more familiar with players like Spieth and Justin Thomas – but he’s having the best week. Here’s a bit more information on Kohles, who hails from Cary, N.C.:
• Won 2012 Dogwood Invitational
• Three-time All-American (second-team in 2012)
• Two-time ACC player of the year (2010, 2011)
• No. 16 in Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings in 2011-12
• Set Virginia career victory mark with seven wins. Won this season’s Cleveland Palmetto Intercollegiate and the Schenkel Invitational
• Tied Virginia career record with 23 top-10s
• Set Virginia 54-hole scoring record (198) at 2012 Schenkel
• Runner-up at 2012 NCAA Central Regional
• Finished T-69 at 2012 NCAA Championship