Former collegiate stars top Nationwide money list

Kevin Chappell pumps his fist during the 2008 NCAA Division I championship.

Kevin Chappell pumps his fist during the 2008 NCAA Division I championship.

It was only a few years ago when they were the stars of college golf. Each was a first-team All-American and each took home some of the most prestigious awards.

Today, Chris Kirk, Jamie Lovemark and Kevin Chappell are again stars, only now their status is on a higher level.

Currently, this trio holds down the top three spots on this year’s Nationwide Tour money list and, like they did during their collegiate careers, they are making people take notice.

Kirk, who won the 2007 Ben Hogan Award while at Georgia, tops the money list and last month notched his first Nationwide Tour win at the Fort Smith (Ark.) Classic.

Lovemark, No. 2 on the earnings list, won both the Jack Nicklaus Award and Fred Haskins Award (college player of the year) in 2007 as a freshman at Southern Cal, as well as the Phil Mickelson Award as national Freshman of the Year. Lovemark won the Nationwide Tour’s Mexico Open on June 27, defeating B.J. Staten in a playoff.

And Chappell, No. 3 on the list, won the 2008 NCAA title while leading his UCLA Bruins to the team championship. That season he also captured the Nicklaus and Haskins trophies. Earlier this season Chappell found the winner’s circle at the Fresh Express Classic.

Kirk and Tommy Gainey were named the Nationwide Tour’s co-players of the month for May/June.

Chappell, meanwhile, has posted some pretty impressive statistics thus far. In 10 key Nationwide Tour stat categories, he ranks among the top 10 in six. He’s No. 1 in the important All-Around Ranking as well as in Eagles and Birdie Average. And, despite not being in the top 10 in Driving Distance or Driving Accuracy Percentage, Chappell is second in Total Driving. His scoring average of 69.46 is fourth, only .22 behind leader David Mathis.

They fine-tuned their games at the college level and carried it over to the Nationwide Tour. One thing is all but certain, the next destination for Kirk, Lovemark and Chappell is the big show of the PGA Tour.

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