Nick Flanagan’s victory at last week’s BMW Charity Pro-Am not only was a reminder of the talent possessed by the 27-year-old Australian, but also of the inexplicable struggles of the men who preceded him in his path to the PGA Tour.
Flanagan earned his first PGA Tour card via the Nationwide Tour’s three-win promotion, an avenue that allows an instant call-up to any player who claims three Nationwide Tour titles in a season. He earned such a promotion in 2007, four years after winning the U.S. Amateur.
Flanagan lasted just one season on the PGA Tour – finishing 169th on the money list in 2008 – before returning to the Nationwide Tour. “For a few years there, I didn’t know if I wanted to do it,” Flanagan told Golfweek’s Jim McCabe at the Wells Fargo Championship. “But I was doing it because I didn’t really know how to do anything else. That’s not really a good way to play, (so) I didn’t practice like I used to and didn’t do all the right things off the golf course.”
He was the eighth man to earn a three-win promotion – originally called a “battlefield ...
In the six-plus years that I’ve served as Golfweek’s television critic, it’s no secret that I’ve carried a torch for Golf Channel’s coverage of the lowly Nationwide Tour. I’ve at times been so fawning in my praise that it’s become a running joke among some colleagues and folks at Golf Channel.
There’s no doubt that I’ve graded the Nationwide coverage on a curve; after all, I’ve never been reluctant to chastise Golf Channel, CBS and NBC if I didn’t like aspects of their PGA Tour coverage. The Nationwide telecasts always have been done with smaller budgets – roughly one-third the size that a network will spend to produce a PGA Tour event, even though the Nationwide tournaments often received comparable airtime. Yet the Nationwide telecasts have been some of the most entertaining I’ve watched over the years, with creative production and a crew that seemed passionate about its product. In short, the Nationwide crew managed to do a lot more with a lot less resources. I’ve always appreciated that.
Given that, I’m not happy to write the following.
If the new, stripped-down Nationwide Tour production unveiled at ...
Editor's note: Nick Flanagan won on the Nationwide Tour on Sunday on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff. This story was printed in Golfweek's print edition following the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this month.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- What pulled the curtain down on a riveting Wells Fargo Championship was a fireworks display by a pair of meteorites who showed why the PGA Tour’s future is abundantly bright. Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy are 23-year-olds awash in color and talent.
But what also was folded into the four-day production at the Quail Hollow Club was a sober reminder that the game is not as easy as some make it appear.
Nick Flanagan once was 23 and a comet; today he’s 27 and grinding for his career.
Now 73-80 aren’t the sort of numbers that will make you take notice, but file what Flanagan did at the Wells Fargo under “baby steps.” After all, “the last few years, there were times when I thought I wouldn’t play another PGA Tour event.”
That’s a difficult statement to digest, if you match it against what Flanagan had accomplished years earlier. In 2003, the then-19-year-old Aussie became ...
GREER, S.C. — Nick Flanagan won the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am for the second time in six years, beating fellow Australian Cameron Percy on Sunday with a par on the third hole of a playoff.
Flanagan, a three-time winner on the tour in 2007, closed with a 4-under 67 on the Thornblade Club course to match Percy at 15-under 271. Percy finished with a 66.
Flanagan birdied the final hole in regulation, while Percy closed with a bogey.
Percy, leading at 16 under in the group ahead of Flanagan, missed a 10-foot par putt on the 72nd hole. Flanagan hooked his second shot at the 491-yard, par-4 18th, with the ball hitting a television cameraman and caroming onto the green, nearly clipping the cup before settling 15 feet away to set up his birdie.
"Sometimes it's better to be lucky rather than good, obviously. You've got to take every break you can get out here," Flanagan said. "The birdie putt was pretty much straight away and I had a pretty good read. As soon as I hit it I felt like it was going in. It bobbled on the way, but it had enough speed to ...
GREER, S.C. — Cameron Percy made birdies on seven of the last 10 holes to shoot 62 and take a two-stroke lead midway through the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Percy played Friday at Thornblade Club, one of three courses used for the celebrity event. Percy pushed to the lead when he made four straight birdies on the 14th through 17th holes to move to 13-under par. He was two shots ahead of first-round leader Darron Stiles (68), Reid Edstrom (66) and Aaron Watkins (66).
Gene Sauers shot a 66 and led a group of four two strokes further back at 9-under par. Brent Dalahoussaye, Robert Streb and Andy Pope were also four strokes behind Percy.
The field will use the three courses on Saturday before moving to Thornblade for Sunday's final round.
GREER, S.C. — Darron Stiles shot an 8-under 64 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead in the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am.
The tournament pairs celebrities with pros on the PGA Tour's developmental circuit. Stiles made seven birdies in a 10-hole stretch at The Carolina Country Club, one of three used by the tournament. His last birdie came on the par-3 17th hole and game him a one-shot edge over D.J. Brigman and Jim Herman. Brigman and Herman also played at The Carolina Country Club.
Jim Renner and Tim Wilkinson shot 6-under 65 at the Thornblade Club, the site of the final round. The group at 6 under also included Sam Saunders, Arnold Palmer's grandson. He opened with a 66 at The Carolina Country Club.
The event features celebrities such as actors Oliver Hudson, Jeffrey Donovan, Richard Schiff, Cheech Marin and Rob Morrow.
Luke List lived with a Nationwide Tour player of the year. He’s good friends with the reigning PGA champion. His proximity to such success led him to believe that his first PGA Tour card wasn’t far away. He was right.
List has a win and two runners-up in eight Nationwide Tour starts this year. His $223,848 in earnings have him atop the Nationwide Tour money list by nearly $30,000. Only time stands between him and the Tour. Since the Nationwide Tour began handing out 25 PGA Tour cards, never has a player needed to exceed List's current earnings to graduate. He also leads the Nationwide Tour in driving distance at 325.1 yards per tee shot, 7.5 yards longer than second-place Brian Anderson.
“I felt like I was one of the better players coming into this year out there, and I’m just trying to back it up,” List, 27, said. “My goal is to finish (No. 1). It’s a big difference between No. 1 and No. 25 on the money list. I’d love to get a few more wins to get that (three-win) promotion. ... I don’t think I’d be ...
ATHENS, Ga. — Hudson Swafford, a former University of Georgia player, won the Stadion Classic on his old college course, closing with a 9-under 62 on Sunday for a one-stroke victory.
The Nationwide Tour rookie holed out from a greenside bunker for birdie on the par-4 18th to post 17-under 267, then had to wait 90 minutes for the rest of the players to complete the round.
"I couldn't see it. I heard it hit the pin, and then I heard everybody just go nuts. When I went up there and saw it had disappeared, I blacked out, to be honest," Swafford said. "To hole out a bunker shot to win a golf tournament is amazing."
Lee Janzen, a two-time U.S. Open champion, and Luke List, coming off a victory last week in the South Georgia Classic, each shot 65 to tie for second. Janzen birdied the final five holes and seven of the last eight. List birdied the 17th for a share of the lead, but hit a tree with his approach on 18 and closed with a bogey.
Swafford earned $99,000 for his first tour victory to jump from 61st to seventh on the money list ...
VALDOSTA, Ga. — Luke List won the South Georgia Classic on Sunday for his first Nationwide Tour title, closing with a 4-under 68 for a two-stroke victory over Brian Stuard.
The former Vanderbilt player finished at 16-under 272 at Kinderlou Forest, and earned $112,500.
"It feels fantastic," said List, surrounded by his parents, grandparents and girlfriend. "It's hard to describe. I really put my head down, especially on the weekend. I knew where I was all day and it was nice to perform under the pressure. Hopefully, this will be a turning point for me and I can get a few more this year."
Stuard finished with a 66. Three-time PGA Tour winner Woody Austin, tied for the third-hole lead with List, had a 73 to drop the third, five strokes back.
List averaged a field-best 329 yards off the tee on the 7,781-yard course, the longest on the tour.
"This course sets up so well for me that I just told myself to stay out of your way and do the right things," List said. "Out here with my length I just had so many opportunities. This is a long course but I had a lot of ...
HAYWARD, Calif. — Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice was 23-over par for 27 holes when he withdrew Friday during the second round of the Nationwide Tour's rain-delayed TPC Stonebrae Championship.
Rice shot a 16-over 86 in the completion of the suspended first round, and was 7 over on the front nine in the second round before stopping play. The tournament host missed the cut the last two years.
Ben Martin, unable to tee off in the second round, topped the leaderboard at 5 under after an opening 67.
Brian Stuard was a stroke back. He also was unable to start the second round.
Steve Friesen had the clubhouse lead at 3 under after rounds of 69 and 68.
BROUSSARD, La. – A return to his home state could help Joseph Bramlett return to the PGA Tour.
Next week’s Soboba Classic in Southern California will be overshadowed by the Masters, but it is a major for Nationwide Tour players. Its $750,000 purse is the third largest of the year, all but ensuring that the winner will earn a PGA Tour card at year’s end. The TPC Stonebrae Championship, held in the San Francisco Bay Area, will be played the next week.
“I’m a California boy, so I love going back out west,” said Bramlett, who is seventh on the Nationwide Tour money list. Many pros his age are moving to Florida, especially Jupiter, but Bramlett said he’ll stay in Northern California for the time being. “Everyone’s going off, but every time I go back to San Jose it feels like home, and everywhere else I go is on the road. I’m in no rush to get out of there.”
The Soboba Classic used to be held in September, but was moved to April so the tour could have consecutive events in California. Every winner of the Soboba, which began in 2009, has earned ...
BROUSSARD, La. — Casey Wittenberg won the Louisiana Open on Sunday for his first Nationwide Tour title, closing with a 6-under 65 for an eight-stroke victory.
The 27-year-old former Oklahoma State player opened with round of 66, 66 and 63 and finished at 24-under 260 at Le Triomphe Country Club. He earned $90,000.
Fabian Gomez, Chris Riley and Paul Claxton tied for second. Gomez shot 65, Riley 67, and Claxton 68.
SANTIAGO, Chile — Paul Haley II won the Chile Classic in his third career Nationwide Tour start, closing with a 1-under 71 on Sunday for a three-stroke victory.
The 24-year-old former Georgia Tech player shot 64 on Friday and Saturday to take a six-shot lead into the final round. He finished at 22-under 266 and earned $108,000 in the inaugural event.
"I expected to come out here and play well, but nobody expects to win in their third professional start," Haley said. "This is awesome."
Joseph Bramlett shot a 64 to finish second at Prince of Wales Country Club.
Paul Claxton was another stroke back after a 68.
Haley missed all but one fairway in his first 12 holes.
"I felt like if I could just hit a fairway I'd be OK," Haley said. "I was hitting my irons fairly well and my putter felt great all day. I figured if I could somehow get a ball in the fairway, the birdies would eventually come."
Haley found the fairway on the par-4 12th and made a 6-foot birdie putt to widen the lead to three, then hit the fairway on the par-4 14th and holed a 12-footer for birdie ...
PANAMA CITY — Edward Loar won the Panama Championship on Sunday for first Nationwide Tour title, holing a 6-foot par putt on the final hole for a 4-over 74 and a one-stroke victory over four players.
The 34-year-old left-hander, four strokes ahead entering the final round in 92-degree heat, survived a triple-bogey 7 on the seventh hole and had only two birdies in the final round — the last on the par-4 16th.
"Yeah, I was nervous," Loar said. "It was the first time in a while that I'd been in the lead, especially on a stage like this. I think anybody that said they weren't is crazy. On a course like this anything can happen as it's shown all week. Unfortunately, it came up and bit me a couple of times."
The 6-foot-4 former Oklahoma State player finished at 4-under 276 and earned $99,000 for his first tour victory since winning the Asian Tour's 2003 Thailand Open and 2004 Korean Open. A rookie on the PGA Tour this year, he will play in the Puerto Rico Open next week.
"I really haven't played that good out here," Loar said. "Hopefully, this will give me some ...
BOGOTA, Colombia — Skip Kendall holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday for an even-par 71 and a one-stroke victory in the Nationwide Tour's season-opening Colombia Championship.
At 47 years, 5 months, 10 days, Kendall became the fourth-oldest winner in Nationwide history. He finished at 10-under 274 at the Country Club of Bogota and earned $108,000 for his third career Nationwide title.
Andres Gonzales and Andrew Svoboda tied for second. Gonzales closed with a 68, and Svoboda had a 72. Svoboda had a chance to force a playoff, but his 20-foot birdie try came up inches short.
"It was one of those putts that you could get a good line on and I had a really good feeling over it," Kendall said. "Fortunately, I hit a good putt and to see it tracking toward the middle of the hole was pretty special. In a way, I'm glad I went first and made the putt."
James Hahn (70) and 49-year old Kirk Triplett (72) tied for fourth at 8 under.
Kendall rallied after bogeying the first two holes.
"In a way, it relaxed me because I figured I got my bogeys out of the way," he ...