NGA TOUR’s 10 to Watch in 2013
No talent shortage for premier developmental tour next season
Myrtle Beach, S.C. – December 28, 2012 –While widely recognized as the No. 3 Men’s Professional Golf Tour in the United States, most regard the talent on the NGA Pro Golf Tour as second to none. With only a limited number of positions available on the Web.com and PGA Tours each year, some of the best golfers in the world compete on the NGA TOUR developing their game and preparing for their opportunity to move up. Major Champions like Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson, and Bubba Watson, along with 2012 PGA TOUR winners like Scott Piercy, Ted Potter, and Scott Stallings, used their time on the NGA to prepare for future success on the PGA TOUR.
Like Bradley, Potter and Stallings, many of this year’s NGA’ers will be looking to make the jump sooner rather than later. In the past two years, a record number of NGA professionals have made the jump to the Web.com Tour in-season. Potter and Russell Knox both won on the Web.com Tour in 2011 after starting the season on the NGA TOUR.
This past season, 2010 NGA TOUR Money Title winner Matt Harmon only needed three NGA starts before moving up to the Web.com Tour after finishing second at the Web.com Tour’s Stonebrae event, playing on an exemption he had secured through the NGA TOUR.
Fellow 2012 NGA TOUR member Robert Streb was only seen at the Members Only Shootout before he made the move up to the Web.com Tour. After winning on the Web.com in 2012, and finishing inside the top 25 on the season ending money list, Streb will be a member of the PGA TOUR in 2013. Streb joined the long list of players such as Ted Potter, Russell Knox, Will Claxton, Billy Hurley, Michael Thompson and many, many others who started the year as a member of the NGA TOUR only to find themselves playing on the PGA TOUR the following year.
Inevitably, there will be several members of the 2013 NGA TOUR Pro Series who will find that same success. The 2013 NGA TOUR Pro Series membership is made up of countless college All-Americans, All-Nicklaus, Walker Cup and Palmer Cup team members, U.S. Amateur participants, State Amateur and Open Champions, past Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR players, and many NGA TOUR veterans and past winners.
While each and every member could be (and deserves to be) profiled we have to narrow our list to 10 players to watch for the 2013 Pro Series season. The list includes three Players of the Year, two Rookies of the Year, two All-Everything Rookies, two All-American Gators, and several players that helped build a new college tradition.
The only thing that could lead these players to not having success on the NGA TOUR in 2013 is if they follow the recent trend of NGA’ers moving up in-season and, rest assured, you will see some of these names on the Web.com and PGA Tours sooner rather than later.
1. Brandon Brown (College: Eastern Kentucky; Shelbyville, Ky.) – What more can be said about Brandon? He hasn’t missed a cut since August, of 2011 that is, and that includes this year’s PGA TOUR Reno-Tahoe Open, which he got into for being the NGA TOUR’s leading money winner at mid-season. He won four times on the NGA TOUR in 2011 and was the tour’s leading money winner with over $150,000 in earnings. He followed that up by winning the money title again in 2012 AND adding the NGA TOUR’s Player of the Year Award to his resume. His remarkable year included a win and 10 finishes of T4 or better. Add in a T8, T9 and T12 for three other events and you can see why Brandon tops this year’s list of players to watch.
2. David Skinns (College: Tennessee; Lincoln, England) – If Brandon Brown had the year of years in 2012, Skinns had the year of years Part 2. Skinns matched his three win total from his Player of the Year season in 2008. He also joined Brown as one of two players to make over $100,000 in earnings. The former Volunteer made all 11 Pro Series cuts he played including seven top 10 finishes. While Brown secured the NGA’s exemption into the Reno-Tahoe Open, Skinns secured two NGA exemptions of his own into Web.com Tour events. Skinns finished with three top-20 finishes in eight Web.com Tour events and over $34,000 in earnings on the No. 2 tour. He’ll definitely be looking to make the move up in 2013.
3. Jeff Corr (College: Jacksonville State; Longwood, Fla.) – Corr started the 2012 season playing on the NGA TOUR before moving up to play primarily on the Web.com Tour. He finished ninth or better in his first three NGA starts before making the move to the Web.com Tour, where he finished with over $23,000 in earnings. He had three top-25 finishes in 18 Web.com Tour starts. Corr returns to the NGA TOUR in 2013, where he was the 2011 Player of the Year and had earnings totaling over $140,000. With a stellar 2013 season, Corr has a chance to pass the PGA TOUR’s Chad Campbell as the NGA’s all-time leading money winner!
4. Blayne Barber (College: Auburn; Lake City, Fla.) – If there is a player with a chance to crack the Big 3, most would say Barber would be the one. After a stellar All-Nicklaus career at Auburn, Barber made news this year by disqualifying himself from final stage of the PGA TOUR’s Qualifying School. He may have made even bigger news with the success he’s had in such a short time on the NGA TOUR. Barber has won five times in just seven NGA starts, a record that would make even Chad Campbell take notice. Barber also made two Web.com starts in 2012. In his professional debut at the Web.com Nationwide Children’s Invitational, the former Tiger T33 and later finished T15 at the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open. Technically still a rookie for the upcoming 2013 season, Barber should definitely compete for Player of the Year honors in addition to Rookie of the Year.
T5. Ken Looper (College: LSU, Mandeville, La.), Jonathan Randolph (College: Ole Miss; Brandon, Miss.) – After sharing NGA Rookie of the Year Honors in 2012 why wouldn’t these two Southeastern Conference stars be linked together for the 2013 season? While both earned Co-Rookies of the Year on the NGA in 2012, each took a very different path to the award.
Looper, after a stellar college career at New Orleans and LSU,started off 2012 with a bang on the NGA’s Winter Series, winning his first ever event as a professional. He only played the event at the prodding of his LSU teammate John Peterson, as a way to get prepared for the upcoming 2012 Pro Series season. He then proceeded to grab his first Pro Series win in Ocala, the second event of the 2012 Pro Series season. Looper added three more top 10s on his way to over $60,000 in earnings for 2012. His success prompted Golfweek’s Sean Martin to state that Looper might be a better player than his much more heralded LSU teammate Peterson.
Randolph, after an All-Nicklaus career at Ole Miss, came back from injury to start his 2012 NGA rookie campaign. He grinded his way through the early part of the season before receiving an exemption into the PGA Tour’s True South Classic, where he finished T21. Randolph built on his PGA Tour success and new found confidence by winning his last two NGA Pro Series starts of 2012 and adding a Web.com Tour start in between. Randolph has been the kryptonite to Barber’s Superman by winning the only two NGA events that Barber was in and didn’t. Many would argue Randolph might be the best possible candidate to break up the Big 3.
7. Tyson Alexander (College: Florida; Gainesville, Fla.) – Alexander came out of college a highly touted rookie after a much heralded college career. He was an All-American at Florida and a member of the 2010 Palmer Cup team. Tyson earned his first professional win at the Killearn Country Club Classic to open the 2012 season, an event won by PGA TOUR Greenbrier Classic Champion Ted Potter only a year earlier. Alexander added six top-10 and three top five finishes on the Pro Series in 2012. He also finished inside the top 10 on the NGA TOUR’s 2012 Pro Series money list with earnings totaling over $55,000. In two short seasons, Alexander has become one of the top stars on the NGA TOUR – and the future seems even brighter for this former Gator.
8. Phillip Choi (College: Florida; Orlando, Fla.) – Alexander’s All-American teammate at Florida put together quite the rookie season for himself on the NGA in 2012. If not for Looper’s steady season and Randolph’s torrid finish, Choi may have well taken Rookie of the Year honors. Choi made 7 of 11 cuts and earned over $37,000 finishing inside the top 20 on the NGA TOUR’s 2012 Pro Series money list. Choi got his first professional win at the NGA TOUR’s TimberCreek Classic and added two more top-10 finishes. He also received the NGA TOUR’s exemption into the Web.com Tour’s Mylan Classic. Choi also played in the Web.com Tour’s Miccosukee Championship, his second Web.com Tour event of the season, where he finished T39. This much heralded rookie who turned pro after his sophomore season at Florida will be looking to take his next step toward a PGA TOUR career.
9. Hunter Hamrick (College: Alabama; Montgomery, AL) – As one of two rookies on the list, Hamrick comes with a pedigree very similar to that of his college rival Barber. An All-American at Alabama, Hunter served as team captain in 2012 where he led his team to a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championship. He then proceeded to qualify for the US Open and make the cut in his pro debut. Hamrick went on to play 4 more PGA TOUR events in 2012 with a season best T10 finish at the True South Classic. He had over $115,000 earnings on the PGA TOUR in 2012. Hamrick got a small taste of the NGA at Rock Barn last year and, like Barber, could challenge for Player of the Year honors in addition to Rookie of the Year.
T10. Chas Narramore, Rick Cochran, Kent Bulle, & Jason Millard, (College: Middle Tennessee State; Kingston, Tenn., Paducah, Ky., Glasgow, Ky., and Murfreesboro, Tenn.) – The quartet that put Middle Tennessee State’s golf team on the map took the NGA TOUR by storm in 2012.
Narramore finished top five in NGA earnings in 2012 with four top-10 finishes, 14 of 17 cuts made and grabbed his first professional win at the NGA’s McCormick (S.C.) Pro Series event, considered the biggest event of the year by many players. Past winners in McCormick include PGA and Web.com Tour stars Kris Blanks, Camilo Villegas, Michael Connell, Kevin Kisner, Philip Pettitt, and Matt Harmon. Narramore looks to follow in their footsteps for the 2013 season.
Cochran had six top 10s, 11 of 15 cuts made and finished inside the top 10 on the money list for the 2012 NGA Pro Series season. He grabbed his first NGA TOUR victory during the 2012 season in his home state of Kentucky by winning the Cherry Blossom Classic. What better place to make a statement to the rest of the NGA TOUR that you have arrived. Cochran also became known to the world during his time on the Golf Channel’s Big Break Greenbrier, where he made it to the Final Four of the competition-styled Reality TV show.
Bulle didn’t find the winner’s circle in his rookie season on the NGA but he did manage to finish a season-best fourth place at the ComSouth Classic. He proceeded to make 14 of 18 cuts while playing every event on the Pro Series in the 2012 season. With his length off the tee and a short game to match, Bulle is sure to be one to watch in 2013 as he looks to match and possibly exceed the success that his college teammates have had on Tour.
Millard also had an impressive rookie season on the NGA, even without a win to his credit. He managed two fifth-place finishes and nine cuts made on his way to over $22,000 in earnings. Like Bulle, Millard will be looking to add to the Middle Tennessee State alumni win total on the NGA in 2013.
More To Watch for in 2013; Stu Anderson (College: Illinois State, 2012 Web.com Tour member, 2011 CanTour Championship winner), TJ Bordeaux (College; Pacific, 2012 Pro Series rookie & BWS winner last year), Tyler Brown (College; Florida, All-American NGA vet), Wesley Bryan (College; South Carolina All-American, Rookie season), Chase Carroll (College; Tusculum, top 20 NGA Pro Series in 2012, Carolina Series winner 2012), MJ Daffue (College; Lamar, 2-time Southland Conference Champion, Rookie season), Kelvin Day (College; Charleston Southern, 3-time All Big South), Johnny Delprete (College; Ole Miss, 2012 Web.com Tour member), Roberto Diaz (College; USC Aiken, 2010 PGA Tour Mexico ROY), Scott Feaster (College; South Carolina, NGA vet, past Carolina Winner), Stuart Gold (Big Break Greenbrier participant, Utah Amateur Champion), Shawn Jasper (College; Missouri, All-American, 2011 Web.com Tour member), Kevin Larsen (College; Ga. Tech, All-American, Palmer Cup team member), Justin Lower (College; Malone, All-Nicklaus, 2012 CS winner), Will McCurdy (College; Auburn, All-Southeast, Rookie season), Garrett Osborn (College; UAB, former Web.com Tour member), Zach Primavera (College; Ole Miss, past Alabama AP Athlete of the Year), Nick Rousey (College; Alabama, multi-time NGA TOUR Winner, 2013 Web.com Tour member), Jordan Russell (College; Texas A&M, Western Am Runner-up, U.S. Am semi-finalist, Rookie season), Andrew Ruthkoski (College; Michigan State, Top 20 Pro Series in 2012), Jamie Sindelar (College; Ohio State, two top-10 NGA finishes in 2012, Rookie season), Gator Todd (College; Alabama, 2012 Web.com Tour member), Patrick Wilkes-Krier (College; Ball State, 2011 NGA Most Improved Winner), Jay Woodson (College; James Madison, 2012 NGA TOUR Winner), Travis Woolf (College; TCU, 2012 NGA TOUR winner, 2012 Web.com Tour Utah Championship Exemption Recipient)