Weekend Update: Van der Walt Flirts With 59 en Route to Career-Best Runner-up Finish in Omaha
Dawie van der Walt
By Stewart Moore
Omaha, NE – Former eGolf Tour player Dawie Van der Walt of South Africa nearly joined the game’s most elitist of clubs on Sunday at the Web.com Tour’s Cox Classic presented by Lexus of Omaha. A six-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole was all that stood between the burly South African and a round of 59, but when it slid past the hole, Van der Walt was left with a closing 11-under 60 and a career-best runner-up finish.
Entering the final round, Van der Walt was in a tie for 34th place at 10-under 200 through three rounds of play. Like most of the field, he spent the final round trying to track down runaway winner Ben Kohles – who was just one week removed from defeating eGolf’s Luke Guthrie in a playoff for his first Web.com Tour title, in his first professional start.
With the tournament title somewhat out of reach, Van der Walt did his best to set a number, posting birdies on six of his first nine holes for a 29 on his outward nine.
An eagle at the par-5 10th catapulted Van der Walt to 8-under for the day and 18-under overall, while birdies on 12 and 14 put him firmly on the proverbial “59 watch” with just four holes to play.
"When I made birdie at 14 I thought I had a good chance at it coming in if I could make a few more," he said. "I think the most nervous I was was on the 18th hole when I had that putt to shoot 59."
Van der Walt had a couple of chances at it. He missed an 8-footer for eagle at 17 and then watched as his 6-footer for birdie at 18 slid by the cup.
"I just missed a few putts coming in," he said.
The final-round 60, however, allowed Van der Walt to secure solo-second place, just three shots behind Kohles, who posted 24-under par to grab win No. 2 in just two short weeks.
In addition to being a career-best finish, the runner-up effort was also Van der Walt’s first career top-10 on the Web.com Tour, spanning 27 starts. The check for $70,200 pushed his 2012 earnings up to $91,954, good for 35th on the tour’s money list.
Luke Guthrie, who recently finished T4 at the eGolf Tour’s Spring Creek Classic, continued his torrid pace at the Cox Classic with a T3 finish, thanks to rounds of 62-63-71-68—264 that left him four shots behind Kohles.
Guthrie, who finished up a standout career at the University of Illinois just two months ago, was the event’s 36-hole leader at a stunning 17-under 125 through two rounds of play. Even more stunning than his two-round tally was the fact that he double-bogeyed the par-4 first in each of the first two rounds, while playing the other 34 holes in 21-under par.
A third-round 71 left Guthrie with a share of the lead through 54 holes alongside Russell Henley, while a final-round 68 dropped him two spots down the leaderboard and into a finishing tie for third. The T3 marked Guthrie’s second straight top-3 finish on the Web.com Tour, dating back to the playoff loss to Kohles just one week ago.
The back-to-back finishes have Guthrie firmly entrenched inside the top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list – currently at No. 20 with $117,600 in earnings. At the conclusion of the 2012 season, the top 25 players on the tour’s money list will receive their 2013 PGA TOUR cards.
Two-time eGolf Tour winner Justin Hicks posted rounds of 67-69-64-65—265 to finish T7 in Omaha, in turn notching his sixth top-10 of the 2012 season. The finish also marked Hicks’ third top-10 in his last four Web.com Tour starts, dating back to a T2 effort at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open in June.
The 37-year-old former University of Michigan star is currently eighth on the Web.com Tour money list with $186,813 in earnings.
Hicks’ time on the eGolf Tour was marked by stout consistency and his two wins, which came at the 2007 Sapona Open and the 2004 Verdict Ridge Invitational. Since his Sapona win, Hicks has split time between the PGA and Nationwide Tours, and actually held a share of the 18-hole lead at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Former eGolf Tour players Steve LeBrun, Luke List and Rob Oppenheim finished T9 at 18-under 266 for the week.
List, a former eGolf Tour member, was 2-over par through five holes in his final round before posting birdies on Nos. 6 through 11 in order to right the ship, eventually finishing with a 5-under 66.
The finish was List’s fifth top-10 of the year, but his first since a T2 effort at the Stadion Classic in May. The former Vanderbilt star has a win and two runner-ups on the year, and has already secured his 2013 PGA TOUR card with $260,796 in earnings – which has him at No. 3 on the Web.com Tour money list.
Other eGolf Tour players to make the cut in Omaha include Aaron Goldberg (12), Brad Fritsch (T13), Reid Edstrom (T13), Fabian Gomez (T18), Jeff Curl (T22), Wes Roach (T22), Jim Renner (T22), Andy Bare (T30), James Love (T30), Philip Pettitt (T30), Scott Parel (T30), Bubba Dickerson (T39), Andres Gonzales (T39), Jason Schultz (T45), Lee Williams (T49), Jamie Lovemark (T49), Chris Thompson (T54), Morgan Hoffmann (T59), Matt Davidson (T59), Casey Wittenberg (T59), Jerod Turner (T59), Doug Barron (T59), Erik Flores (T66), Nick Flanagan (T66), Jeff Corr (74) and Nate Smith (T75). For complete results from the Cox Classic on PGATOUR.com, please click here.
• Former eGolf Tour player Keegan Bradley holed a dramatic 15-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to win his third PGA TOUR title on Sunday at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, OH. Bradley, who played the eGolf Tour in 2009, came to the difficult par-4 18th at 13-under par and trailing leader Jim Furyk by one, and one shot clear of Steve Stricker, who had posted 12-under 268 in the clubhouse. Needing a miracle collapse from Furyk to have a chance, Bradley got just that in the form of a closing double-bogey from the former U.S. Open champ. Furyk’s tee shot on the narrow closing hole found a tree, but kicked back into the fairway, leaving a lengthy second shot. A blocked approach right of a greenside bunker left Furyk with a difficult up-and-down, but nevertheless a decent chance at salvaging a bogey. When he flubbed his third shot just over the bunker, then left his par chip about 5 feet short of the hole, the stage was set for Bradley to convert his 15-foot par try in order to add some pressure. With a pump of the fist and a stock yell, Bradley drained the par putt, in turn forcing Furyk to make his in order to force a playoff. The usually-reliable putter, however, let Furyk down, as his firm par try flew past the hole on the high side, resulting in a crushing six to close out his week. The win pushed Bradley’s 2012 earnings up to $3,222,158, good for No. 8 on the PGA TOUR money list. The win also comes just days before the former St. John’s University golfer will defend his 2011 PGA Championship title, with this year’s event starting this Thursday at the arduous Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort. For complete results from Firestone Country Club on PGATOUR.com, please click here.
• At the PGA TOUR’s Reno-Tahoe Open, John Mallinger led all former eGolf Tour players with 34 total points in the modified stableford scoring format en route to a fourth-place finish – his best on TOUR since a T2 at the Humana Challenge in January. Mallinger entered the final round in a tie for third, but managed only two points in Sunday’s final round with two birdies and two bogeys to fall down a spot on the leaderboard. Former eGolf Tour player Josh Teater had an up-and-down week in Reno, posting 11 points, negative-3 points, and 14 points heading into the final round, where he mustered 9 points to move up 12 spots into solo-seventh place. Other eGolf Tour players to make the cut at Montreux Golf & Country Club include Kevin Chappell (T14), Jason Bohn (T19), Matt Bettencourt (T21), Gary Christian (T21), Billy Horschel (T26), Chris Kirk (T26), Marc Turnesa (T31), Russell Knox (T43), Brendon Todd (T43), Jason Kokrak (T48) and Kevin Kisner (T63). For complete results from the Reno-Tahoe Open on PGATOUR.com, please click here.