Golf: Tim Wilkinson secures PGA Tour card after event cancelled

By Cameron McMillan

Tim Wilkinson during the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational at Colonial Country Club. Photo / Getty Images
Tim Wilkinson during the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational at Colonial Country Club. Photo / Getty Images

Instead of celebrating the fact that he had secured a PGA Tour card for next season, Kiwi golfer Tim Wilkinson was preparing his house for the same hurricane that assured his immediate future in the game.

Wilkinson took the final qualifying spot for the 2017 PGA season after Hurricane Matthew cancelled The Web.com Tour Championship in Jacksonville today.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry ordered an evacuation for the beaches near Jacksonville, including Atlantic Beach, and the PGA Tour felt it had little choice but to scratch the tournament so everyone could get out of town.

The cancellation meant Wilkinson finished in the 25th spot and final qualifying place, edging American Rob Oppenheim by US$392 (NZ$546). A year ago, Oppenheim got the final card by US$101.

Wilkinson, who already had an exemption to play in a number of events on the PGA Tour, didn't have time to reflect on securing the full tour card.

Jacksonville is his hometown so he had other things on his mind.

"I live in Jacksonville so I had other things on my mind to be honest. I played the Pro-Am yesterday but today I've been going around getting bottled water and canned food for this hurricane. I've had other things on my mind other than playing golf. Keeping my family safe is more important," he told Radio Sport's Matt Brown.

"There's no possible way you could play the tournament. The forecast obviously was pretty bad. We've just been at home getting ready for the next few days."

With winds of up to 150kmph expected Wilkinson said he'll be staying inside and possibly work on his putting game ahead of the PGA Tour opener next week.

Wilkinson will be part in his seventh season on the PGA Tour, joining fellow Kiwis Danny Lee and Steven Alker for the 2016-17 season. His best finish was tied fourth at the Byron Nelson tournament in May as he finished with four top 25 placings in the 22 events he entered.

"I've had a good little run. I'm starting to play really well and become a lot more confident in my game and myself. This year I had a couple of really good chances to win and obviously will get more chances to do that this year so I'm looking forward to it."

The Web.Com Tour Finals consists of four US$1 million tournaments. The top 25 from the regular season are assured their cards, while 25 more cards are awarded based on a money list from those four events. The money list instead is final from three events.

The Web.com Tour Finals typically are held in four straight weeks. This year, the tour opted for a week off between the third and final event so that the Web.com Tour Championship would not go up against the Ryder Cup.

That left no time to postpone the final event by one week because the PGA Tour season starts next week at the Safeway Open in Napa, California.

- With AP

- NZ Herald

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