Golf: Wilkinson on fire in opening round

Tim Wilkinson. Photo / NZPA
Tim Wilkinson. Photo / NZPA

Kiwi golfer Tim Wilkinson is the highest-earning player on the Tour this year without a tournament victory but he has put himself in a good position to change that this weekend.

The Manawatu professional carded an opening round six-under par 65 overnight to hold a share of the lead at the News Sentinel Open in Knoxville, Tennessee, alongside American Michael Putnam.

Putnam is the leading money-winner on this year's Tour, while Wilkinson is in ninth with US$197,836 (NZD$244,417) to his name from 14 starts but a tournament victory has continued to elude him.

It's a testament to Wilkinson's consistency that he can sit so high on the order of merit without a win. He has secured his spot inside the top 25 money-earners this year with two tournaments to go, which means he will have a PGA Tour card for next season.

Wilkinson's round in Tennessee overnight included seven birdies and one bogey at the US$550,000 (NZD$681,000) tournament.

Victory this weekend could see Wilkinson jump to as high as fifth on the order of merit.

Putnam and Wilkinson hold a one-stroke advantage over a trio of American golfers at five-under.

New Zealand's Steven Alker, who is 22nd on the Tour's order of merit, fired an even-par 71 to be in a share of 84th.

If Alker wants to make the cut he will need to go under par in his second round.

The 42-year-old is right on the cusp of securing a PGA Tour card for next year providing he can hold on to his place in the order of merit's top 25.

Alker had one birdie and one bogey in his consistent round.


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