NGA alums Palmer, Johnson charge but Reed holds on for Humana Challenge win

72 NGA Tour alums compete in Humana Challenge, make up over 46% of premier tour event field

La Quinta, CA January 20, 2014 – 2001 NGA Tour Player of the Year Zach Johnson shot the best round of the tourney while fellow NGA Tour alum Ryan Palmer tied the previous best round but it wasn’t enough on the final day of the PGA Tour Humana Challenge to catch former Augusta State star Patrick Reed. Reed, who had shot the previous best round of the tourney 63 all 3 days to open the event and set a new 54 hole scoring record in the process, finished at 28 under par for the event with a final day 1 under par 71 to grab his second win on golf’s premier tour.

Zach Johnson and Keegan Bradley, NGA Tour alums and MAJOR Champions

Zach Johnson and Keegan Bradley, NGA Tour alums and MAJOR Champions

Reed’s up and down day, that included 4 bogeys with 5 birdies, had some wondering if he could be caught, especially after starting the day 7 shots clear of the field. Johnson and Palmer tried their best, tearing through the championship PGA West Palmer track. Johnson started the day in 15th place and 12 shots out of the lead after 3 consecutive rounds of his own in the 60’s (65-68-68). Johnson, one of the hottest golfers on tour if no the world, would get even hotter on his way to shooting a 10 under par 62, a round which saw him birdie his final 5 holes. The tournament best round just wasn’t enough to catch Reed and Johnson finished the event at 23 under par, 3 shots behind Reed, and tied for 3rd. Palmer managed to get one shot closer, finishing alone in 2nd and 2 shots behind Reed, after tying the previous tournament best round of 63 which saw him make 7 birdies on his first 17 holes and finish out with an eagle on hole 18. The 2nd place finish helped propel Palmer 85 spots in the FedEx Cup rankings all the way to 12th. For his tied 3rd finish, Johnson moved from 6th to 4th in the rankings.

Three other NGA Tour alums managed top 10 finishes with 2002 NGA Tour Rookie of the Year Chad Collins finishing in 8th, Brendon Todd tying for 6th, and Brian Stuard grabbing a top 5 finish by shooting 25 under with a final round 65. Four NGA Tour alums tied for 13th including Jerry Kelly, Matt Every, 2008 NGA Tour Rookie of the Year Russell Knox, and 2004 NGA Tour Player of the Year Will MacKenzie. Another four NGA Tour alums tied for 18th including Scott Langley, James Driscoll, Brendon de Jonge, and PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley. Three alums finsihed tied for 25h, Roberto Castro, Hudson Swafford, and Martin Flores bringing the total of NGA Tour alums to finish inside the top 25 at 16.

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La Quinta, Cal. – January 16, 2014 – There are a lot of reasons the NGA Tour is regarded as the number 3 men’s professional golf tour in the United States. Some would say it’s because the NGA Tour is the only tour, in mirroring golf’s premier tour, to hold week long, 72-hole, walking only events spread throughout the country that include pro-ams, free junior clinics, and also combine heavy charity involvement. But when it comes down to it the NGA Tour is regarded as the number 3 tour in the US because more of their players advance to golf’s top tours than any other developmental tour in golf, as evidenced by the 72 NGA alums competing in this week’s PGA Tour Humana Challenge. That means that over 46% of the players teeing it up in La Quinta, Cal. this week have played in an NGA Tour event at one time or another, proving the NGA Tour’s place as the top training ground for players wishing to advance to golf’s highest levels. The NGA Tour model works, as evidenced by the names carrying the NGA Tour banner this week at the Humana Challenge.

Leading the group of NGA Tour alums into this week’s event would have to be Keegan Bradley and Zach Johnson, two of the best golfers in the world. Both Major Champions found success on the NGA Tour, Bradley with two wins and a runner-up rookie of the year and Johnson as the 2001 NGA Tour Player of the Year. Johnson found success on golf’s top tour by winning the 2007 Masters while Bradley’s success came much sooner winning the PGA Championship in 2011 on his way to Rookie of the Year Honors. Johnson comes into this week on a bit of streak having won his last event of 2013, the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, and his 1st event of the new year, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The 11 time winner is coming off a T8 finish at last week’s Sony Open and is ranked 5th in the power rankings for this week’s event. Bradley tops Johnson by a spot in the power rankings coming in at number 4 this week. This will be Bradley’s first start of the new year but he has yet to finish worse than 13th in 3 events played this season.

Past NGA Tour players make up two thirds of the Power Rankings list with Gary Woodland (7th), Ryan Palmer (8th), Brian Stuard (9th), Jason Kokrak (12th), Robert Garrigus (13th), Kevin Na (14th), and Brendon de Jonge (15th) joining Johnson and Bradley.

Another fun listing to check out is the Sleeper Picks and several NGA Tour alums always manage to find their way onto it as well. For this week’s Humana Challenge, NGA alum Brendon Todd and 2013 NGA Tour member Peter Malnati find themselves being picked as players to watch out for. Todd makes the list because of his 8 top 25’s in his last 24 starts over the past 11 months. He currently leads the tour with five eagles and recently tied for 20th at Waialae. Malnati, a rookie on tour this season less than a year removed from the NGA Tour, closed out last week’s Sony Open by chipping in for eagle on his final hole. However Malnati made the list by virtue of his putter as he leads the tour in one putt percentage so far this season. The defending Humana Challenge champion, NGA Tour alum Brian Gay, led the tour in the same category in 2013. Malnati has finished 15th and T38 in his last two starts.

The Humana Challenge field includes:

Six (6) NGA Tour Players of the Year; Chad Campbell, Joe Durant, Lee Janzen, Ted Potter Jr., Will MacKenzie, and Zach Johnson.

Three (3) NGA Tour Rookies of the Year; Chad Collins, Russell Knox, and Will Wilcox.

Eight (8) NGA Tour alums/Major Champions: Ben Curtis (Open), David Toms (PGA), John Daly (Open, PGA), Keegan Bradley (PGA), Lee Janzen (US Open), Lucas Glover (US Open), Stewart Cink (Open), Zach Johnson (Masters)

NGA Tour alums competing in the Humana Challenge:

1 Alex Aragon (NP)
2 Andrew Loupe (PP)
3 Andrew Svoboda (NP)
4 Ben Martin (LQ)
5 Ben Curtis (PP)
6 Billy Hurley III (LQ)
7 Blake Adams (PP)
8 Boo Weekley (NP)
9 Brendon Todd (NP)
10 Brendon de Jonge (LQ)
11 Brian Stuard (LQ)
12 Brian Gay (LQ)
13 Brian Harman (NP)
14 Bronson La’Cassie (NP)
15 Camilo Villegas (NP)
16 Chad Collins (NP)
17 Chad Campbell (PP)
18 Chesson Hadley (PP)
19 Chris Stroud (LQ)
20 David Toms (LQ)
21 Edward Loar (NP)
22 Erik Compton (LQ)
23 Gary Woodland (PP)
24 Heath Slocum (NP)
25 Hudson Swafford (NP)
26 James Driscoll (PP)
27 Jason Bohn (LQ)
28 Jason Kokrak (NP)
29 Jeff Maggert (PP)
30 Jerry Kelly (LQ)
31 Jim Herman (NP)
32 Joe Durant (PP)
33 John Mallinger (LQ)
34 John Senden (NP)
35 John Merrick (LQ)
36 John Daly (LQ)
37 John Peterson (LQ)
38 John Rollins (PP)
39 Josh Teater (NP)
40 Justin Hicks (NP)
41 Keegan Bradley (LQ)
42 Ken Duke (PP)
43 Kevin Na (NP)
44 Kevin Kisner (NP)
45 Lee Williams (NP)
46 Lee Janzen (NP)
47 Lucas Glover (NP)
48 Mark Wilson (NP)
49 Martin Flores (PP)
50 Matt Every (NP)
51 Morgan Hoffmann (NP)
52 Peter Malnati (PP)
53 Robert Garrigus (LQ)
54 Roberto Castro (PP)
55 Russell Knox (PP)
56 Ryan Palmer (PP)
57 Scott Brown (PP)
58 Scott Langley (LQ)
59 Scott Piercy (NP)
60 Scott McCarron (LQ)
61 Scott Stallings (NP)
62 Sean O’Hair (NP)
63 Spencer Levin (PP)
64 Stewart Cink (LQ)
65 Ted Potter, Jr. (NP)
66 Tommy Gainey (PP)
67 Wes Roach (NP)
68 Will Wilcox (LQ)
69 Will Claxton (PP)
70 Will MacKenzie (NP)
71 William McGirt (NP)
72 Zach Johnson (LQ)

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