IT WAS a weekend for maiden victories on the US golf tours with Korean-American Kevin Na winning his first PGA Tour title, Kiwi Danny Lee winning his first Nationwide Tour championship and Kenny Perry lifting his first Champions Tour trophy.
After eight seasons of trying, Na had a two shot win over Nick Watney at the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children tournament in Las Vegas.
Na’s third round featured what first appeared to be an air swing but on closer inspection it was deemed by officials he had backed off as he began his downswing and deliberately missed the ball.
Na seems to have been on the tour for ages – his family arrived in the US when he was an 8-year-old with precocious golfing talent – but in fact is still only 28 and has a lot of golf in front of him.
Aussies fighting for tour cards
The championship featured a number of Australians fighting to finish in the top 125 in the money list and thus retain their tour cards for next year.
Steven Bowditch and Nick O’Hern led the charge, tying for 23rd and improving their positions. O’Hern moved to 111th and is in the more comfortable position while Bowditch improved one spot to 130th and needs a good performance in one of the three remaining Fall series events to secure his 2012 card.
Rod Pampling and Nathan Green were next best at T34, with Pampling retaining his 119th position and Green in real danger at 176th.
Green opened with a sizzling 64 to be just off the pace but didn’t keep contact with the leaders, finishing on 12-under, a long way from Na’s 23-under winning mark.
Lee wins 2011 WNB Golf Classic
New Zealander Danny Lee showed immense promise as an amateur, winning the 2008 US Amateur Championship and then beating the mainly pro field at the 2009 Johnny Walker Classic in Perth on the PGA Tour of Australasia.
It has taken him 19 starts to take his first professional title and it looks like he has done enough to secure his PGA Tour card for next year.
The 21-year old Lee started the final round of the WNB Golf Classic at the Midland Country Club in Texas six strokes off the lead and took the title on the first play-off hole against fellow Nationwide rookie Harris Enlglish.
Lee started the final round six strokes off the lead and managed to hold his nerve to take out the title on the first playoff hole against fellow rookie Harris English.
“It feels great to win again,” Lee said. “I haven’t won a tournament since I won the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic and it’s a great feeling. It’s not easy to win and I worked really hard with my uncle and my coach for this. I’m really happy it worked.”
On the Champions Tour, 14-time PGA Tour winner Kenny Perry won his first title on the over 50s tour in his second season.