Weekend Update: Six eGolf Tour Players Notch Top-10 Finishes at Nationwide Tour’s Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open
By Stewart Moore
Wichita, KS – At the Nationwide Tour’s Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open, former eGolf Tour player Casey Wittenberg of Memphis, TN collected his second win of the year, while past eGolf Tour winners Justin Hicks, Hudson Swafford, Brice Garnett, Richard Scott and Matt Harmon all posted top-10 finishes on the week.
Wittenberg, fresh off a T10 finish at last week’s U.S. Open, posted rounds of 63-70-67-66—266 to grab his second Nationwide Tour title of the year dating back to a win at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in March.
The former Oklahoma State star entered Sunday’s final round trailing leader Jim Herman by two shots, but took full advantage of Herman’s late Sunday struggles with birdies on Nos. 11, 13, 14 and 16 to reach 18-under for a two-shot win over two-time eGolf Tour winner Justin Hicks.
The win moved Wittenberg from No. 10 to No. 2 on the tour’s money list with $240,019 in earnings, and mathematically solidified his 2013 PGA TOUR card, as the top 25 players on the season-ending money list will earn their TOUR cards for the next year.
Hicks spent much of Sunday’s final round making an early charge, with birdies on Nos. 4, 7, 8 and 13 to reach 16-under for the week. At the par-5 14th, an untimely bogey by Hicks dropped the former University of Michigan golfer down to 15-under and two behind Herman. A late birdie at the par-3 17th took him back to 4-under, but by then, he trailed Wittenberg by two, where he eventually finished in a tie for second at 16-under par.
The runner-up marked Hicks’ fourth top-10 of the year, and bumped his 2012 earnings up to $150,450, good for ninth on the tour’s money list. The $52,800 payday earned in Wichita moved Hicks from No. 17 to No. 9 on the money list.
Hudson Swafford and Brice Garnett, both winners on the 2011 eGolf Tour, posted matching totals of 13-under 271 to finish in a tie for sixth on the week.
Swafford, a winner earlier this year at the Nationwide Tour’s Stadion Classic at UGA, carded rounds of 67-66-70-68—271 to notch his second top-5 of the 2012 season – his first on the Nationwide Tour. The check for $23,625 moved the former University of Georgia star from No. 11 to No. 8 on the tour’s money list with earnings of $154,811.
The Tallahassee, FL native burst onto the 2011 eGolf Tour scene with a runner-up at the Cowans Ford Open in June and a breakthrough win at the HGM Hotels Classic at Rock Barn in August. The stellar freshman campaign gave way to a successful first trip to PGA TOUR Q-School, where Swafford earned his Nationwide Tour card for the 2012 season.
Garnett, a two-time winner on the 2011 eGolf Tour, overcame a sluggish start to his closing round by posting birdies on 11, 12 and 14 for a final-round 69 that tied him with Swafford at 13-under par.
The T6 effort continued a solid year for Garnett, who has made eight of nine cuts on the year to post $56,405 in earnings. He is currently 36th on the tour’s money list.
Much like Swafford, Garnett broke through in major fashion on the eGolf Tour last year. In his first full season on tour, Garnett posted wins at the River Hills Classic and the Southern Open before playing his way onto the latter half of the 2011 Nationwide Tour. Garnett wound up earning $78,216 to finish fourth on the eGolf Tour money list, even though he made just 11 starts on the year.
Two-time eGolf Tour winner Richard Scott, recent eGolf Tour winner Matt Harmon and former player Steve LeBrun rounded out the tour’s representation inside the top 10, with each player posting a T9 finish on the week.
Scott, a longtime eGolf Tour member who last won at the tour’s 2010 Championship at St. James Plantation, is in his first full season on the Nationwide Tour. The three-time Canadian Amateur champion birdied three of his final five holes on Sunday en route to a closing 67 that moved him 11 spots up on the final leaderboard.
The finish marked just the fourth made cut of Scott’s 2012 campaign, but his third top-25 finish, dating back to a T4 at the South Georgia Classic and a T23 at the TPC Stonebrae Championship.
Harmon, who holed a 40-foot bunker shot on the second playoff hole earlier this month to capture the HGM Hotels Classic at Rock Barn, entered the final round in a tie for 12th, and moved up three spots with a bogey-free 68 to close out his week.
The former Michigan State star finished T2 at the Nationwide Tour’s Stonebrae event in April, but was forced to wait until recently to take full advantage of his newfound status as the tour’s second reshuffle didn’t occur until after the conclusion of the Rex Hospital Open three and a half weeks ago. Since venturing onto the Nationwide Tour full time, Harmon has posted T13 and T9 finishes, to increase his 2012 earnings to $70,919 – good for 30th on the tour’s money list.
Other eGolf Tour players to make the cut in Wichita include Luke List (T15), Ben Martin (T22), Bryan DeCorso (T22), Aron Price (T22), Darron Stiles (T22), Bubba Dickerson (T29), Andres Gonzales (T29), Jim Renner (T29), James Sacheck (T36), Doug Barron (T36), Rob Oppenheim (T40), Nate Smith (T40), Aaron Goldberg (T40), Scott Parel (T48), Matt Davidson (T48), David Skinns (T52), Derek Fathauer (T56), Dawie Van der Walt (T59) and Fernando Mechereffe (T64). For full-field results from the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Classic, please click here.
• At the PGA TOUR’s Travelers Championship, Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge led all former eGolf Tour players with rounds of 72-65-66-66—269 and a T8 finish – his first top-10 since a season-opening T10 finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii. The finish continued a torrid streak of 10 made cuts in a row, dating back to the Shell Houston Open in April. The Charlotte resident is currently 58th on the PGA TOUR money list with $910,675 in 2012 earnings. Cameron Tringale, who played the eGolf Tour in 2009, finished T15 on the week at 9-under 271, thanks in part to a final-round 64. The finish marked his seventh top-25 on the year, just one shy of his career-best of eight top-25s, which he set last year. Four-time eGolf Tour winner Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey and past member Gary Christian rounded out the tour’s representation inside the top 20 with matching T18 finishes, courtesy of 8-under 272 totals. Gainey bogeyed both par-5s at TPC River Highlands in Sunday’s final round, but rallied late with three birdies in his last four holes to post a 4-under 66 on the day. The finish was just his second top-25 on the year, dating back to a solo-third-place effort at last month’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Other eGolf Tour players to make the cut in Cromwell, CT include Billy Horschel (T24), Brian Harman (T24), Keegan Bradley (T29), Garth Mulroy (T29), Blake Adams (T29), Derek Lamely (T37), Billy Hurley (T47), Roberto Castro (T47), Jamie Lovemark (T69), David Mathis (MDF), Stephen Gangluff (MDF) and Jason Kokrak (MDF). For complete results from the Travelers Championship on PGATOUR.com, please click here.