2011, 2012 NGA TOUR Members Look To Make Impact
Myrtle Beach, SC – Year in and year out, no other developmental tour puts more players on the Web.com Tour than the NGA PRO GOLF TOUR – and the 2012 Web.com Tour felt the presence of the NGA like never before.
Thirteen of the top 25 season ending Web.com Tour money list leaders who earned their PGA TOUR cards for 2013 were past NGA TOUR players including seven players who had competed on the NGA TOUR within the past year. 2011 NGA TOUR members Shawn Stefani, Lee Williams, Chris Wilson, and Casey Wittenberg became Web.com Tour winners. Wittenberg, a former NGA TOUR Player of the Year, grabbed two wins, Web.com Tour Player of the Year honors, and full exempt PGA TOUR status.
The 2013 season is sure to be another banner year for NGA TOUR alums on the Web.com Tour as 16 members from the 2012 NGA TOUR Pro Series earned membership on the No. 2 tour. With over two-thirds of every Web.com Tour field, on average, having spent time on the NGA TOUR, it would take a full blown novel to profile each and every one of them. Trying to pick just 10 to profile would be a daunting task in itself for our panel of experts. To make this task easier we have decided to narrow our list to 2011 and 2012 NGA TOUR graduates only. The following are 10 NGA TOUR alumni that graduated from the NGA in 2011 or 2012 – and we suggest you keep an eye on during the 2013 season as they look to make their mark on the Web.com Tour on their way to the PGA TOUR.
1) Matt Harmon (College: Michigan State; Grand Rapids, Mich.) – With conditional status on the Web.com Tour to start the 2012 season, Matt decided to continue competing on the NGA TOUR to start the year. After only three events on the NGA TOUR, Matt was granted the NGA TOUR’s exemption into the Web.com Tour’s TPC Stonebrae Championship. Matt made the most of his opportunity by tying the course record with a 61 on the final day, finishing tied for 2nd and earning full exempt status on the Web.com Tour for the remainder of the season. Matt went on to make over $88,000 in earnings in 16 events on the No. 2 tour. Matt has also found success on the PGA TOUR finishing T52 at the 2009 Buick Open. With a full Web.com Tour season under his belt, the two-time Big Ten Champion and 2010 NGA TOUR money leader is sure to bring his consistent play, which has dominated on the NGA TOUR for the past five years, to the Web.com Tour in 2013.
2) Philip Pettitt Jr. (College: Tennessee; Murfreesboro, Tenn.) – Pettitt Jr. made his mark on the NGA TOUR quickly by winning the 2009 NGA Rookie of the Year, taking the last event of the season in Columbia, S.C., to secure the award. After finishing ‘second on the NGAs point list in 2010, Pettitt Jr. won twice on the NGA Pro Golf Tour in 2011 and placed third on the tour’s Pro Series money list with over $110,000 in earnings. The former University of Tennessee captain competed full time on the Web.com Tour in 2012 where he had seven top-25 finishes, made over $135,000 in earnings, and finished 41st on the season ending money list. Pettitt, who finished 14th in total driving and 25th in greens in regulation, has all the tools to succeed at golf’s highest levels. With a full season on the Web.com Tour under his belt, look for bigger and better things in the near future.
3) Chris Wilson (College: Northwestern; Dublin, Ohio) – After a stellar career at Northwestern, where he won Big Ten team and individual titles, Wilson reached the pinnacle of golf by earning his PGA TOUR card for 2010.
A victim of his own success and the difficulties placed on players during their rookie season on the PGA TOUR, Wilson lost his status and returned to the NGA in 2011. The time on the NGA did him well as he earned his Web.com Tour card for 2012 and this time came in better prepared.
Wilson went on to grab his first Web.com Tour win at the Price Cutter Charity Championship and made over $155,000 in earnings for the year. Wilson returns to the Web.com Tour in 2013 looking to build on his success and make his way back to the PGA TOUR.
4) Andrew Loupe (College: LSU; Baton Rouge, La.) – Since turning pro in 2011 out of LSU, Loupe has taken the NGA TOUR by storm. He finished second in only his second event on Tour and finished inside the top 20 on the NGA TOUR Pro Series money list, playing less than half the season after graduation.
In the past year and a half, he has only missed four cuts in 19 starts, amassed over $86,000 in earnings and picked up eight top-10 finishes, including a win and two runner-up efforts. Loupe has competed in seven Web.com Tour events the past two years and has made the cut in four of them with three top-25 finishes. Regarded as one of the longest hitters on the NGA, his length off the tee will surely have him amongst the tour’s driving distance leaders at season’s end and hopefully amongst the tour’s leading money winners as well.
5) Nick Rousey (College: Alabama; Pensacola, Fla.), – A two-time National Champion in college and 2009 NGA Golf Achievement Award winner, Rousey has been a mainstay at the top of NGA leader boards and money lists, making nearly $400,000 in career earnings. In the last three years, he’s only missed six cuts in 48 starts on the NGA TOUR and earned 29 top-20 finishes. His biggest win on Tour came in 2011 at the Texas Honing Open, an event previously won by PGA TOUR Major Champion Keegan Bradley in 2009. When given the opportunity, Nick has performed consistent on the Web.com Tour as well. He has made four of six cuts on the No. 2 tour with a career-best fourth-place finish at the 2010 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open. Rousey will start the year with conditional status, but we’re confident when the opportunity comes, Nick will become a mainstay at the top of the Web.com Tour leaderboards and money list in 2013.
6) Randall Hutchison (College: Michigan State; Traverse City, Mich.) – Hutchison started off the 2012 season by winning the NGA Bridgestone Winter Series money title. He won the first two events of the Winter Series in a sign of things to come. Randall carried over his success to the Pro Series where he made 13 of 14 cuts and finished inside the tour’s top 20 money list. He started off this season’s Winter Series the same way he did the past year by winning his first two events; the Members Only Shootout and Metrowest. He currently sits fourth on year to date earnings with over $68,000 made. Hutchison also made his mark on the PGA TOUR this year by finishing T45 at the John Deere Classic.
7) Will Wilcox (College: UAB, Clayton State; Ashville, Ala.) – Wilcox joined the NGA Pro Golf Tour in 2009 after a successful stint at Clayton State University, where he won four times and earned All-American honors.
In his first full season on the NGA in 2010, Wilcox picked up a breakout win at McCormick, S.C., one of the NGA’s top events, on his way to Rookie of the Year honors. Wilcox carried that momentum into the 2011 season, earning his second and third career wins. After winning at Rock Barn in his second event of the 2011 Pro Series season, Wilcox Monday qualified into the Web.com Tour Athens’ event, where he finished third and earned exempt status for the rest of the season. Wilcox added another third-place finish and six top-25s in 18 starts on the Web.com Tour in 2011. In his first full season on the Web.com Tour in 2012, Wilcox had four top-25 finishes, over $75,000 in earnings, and finished 73rd on the season ending money list. Will should definitely make a run at the Web.com Tour’s top 25 in 2013.
8) Ryan Spears (College: Wichita State; Del City, Okla.) – After turning professional, Spears joined the NGA TOUR as possibly the most decorated college player yet. During an All-American career at Wichita State, Spears participated in the US-Japan Cup and earned Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Honors. He quickly carried that success over to the pro ranks where he earned his first professional win at the NGA’s Buffalo Run Casino Classic in his home state of Oklahoma and was named the NGA TOUR’s 2011 Rookie of the Year, earning him a spot in the Web.com Tour’s Chattanooga Classic. Spears continued his success in 2012 finishing 13th on the NGA TOUR’s money list with 12 of 13 cuts made and over $42,000 in earnings.
9) Jonathan Hodge (College: UT Chattanooga; Strawberry Plains, Tenn.) – After an All-American career at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Hodge joined the NGA TOUR in 2010. Hodge started his NGA career on fire by making 11 of 14 Pro Series cuts with four top-20 finishes, including three straight to finish the season. He took a step back in 2011, but that did not deter him from returning in 2012 and regain the form that made him one of the NGA’s top prospects. After missing the cut in his first event of the season, Jonathan proceeded to make the next seven cuts and grabbed four top-20 finishes, including two top 10s. Hodge is accustomed to competing against some of the biggest names in golf and definitely should not be overwhelmed in his first season on the Web.com Tour.
T10) Danny Ellis (College: Clemson; Heathrow, Fla.), Bryden Macpherson (College: UGA; Singer Island, Fla./Melbourne, Australia), Mark Silvers (College: South Carolina; Savannah, Ga.) – Three players from the southeast (one being from way down south in Australia) who have taken very different paths getting to the Web.com Tour in 2013.
Ellis starred at Clemson University. He is a veteran of 51 NGA TOUR starts and 113 PGA TOUR starts who found himself without status and back with the NGA TOUR in 2012. He used a strong PGA TOUR Q-School to earn his place on the Web.com Tour in 2013, narrowly missing out on a return to the PGA TOUR by 2 shots. Ellis received one of the NGA TOUR’s 23 Q-School Reimbursements given out this season by virtue of his NGA Wanamaker Q-School Prep Series win. Ellis’ experience should serve him well in the upcoming season as he strives to get back to the PGA TOUR.
Macpherson was an amateur star in Australia before claiming the Southeastern Conference Rookie of the Year in 2009 at Georgia. He had four PGA TOUR starts in 2012, including The Masters, thanks in part to his winning the 2011 British Amateur Championship. Macpherson also played in the 2011 U.S. Open, missing the cut by a single stroke. He turned professional after The Masters this year costing him a start in the 2012 US Open. He joined the NGA TOUR late in the season and proceeded to make 3 of his first 4 cuts.
Silvers played at the University of South Carolina but really found his niche in the professional game. Silvers paid his dues on the mini-tour circuit after turning pro in 2009, garnering four wins on the NGA’s own Carolina Series. Silvers moved up to the NGA TOUR’s Pro Series in 2012, finished third on the season ending money list, earned his first Pro Series victory with a win at Scotch Hall Preserve and was selected as the Tour’s Golf Achievement Award winner (given to the player who best exemplifies a professional golfer on and off the course). He has only missed three cuts in a little over three years on the NGA. Silvers got a taste of the Web.com Tour this year playing in the News Sentinel Open on an exemption secured by the NGA TOUR. Silvers became nationally known by winning this season’s Big Break Greenbrier televised on the Golf Channel. The win earned him an exemption into the PGA TOUR’s 2013 Greenbrier Classic.
Other 2011/2012 NGA TOUR Grads to watch out for on the Web.com Tour in 2013: Connor Arendell (College: UCF; Cape Coral, Fla.), Ben Briscoe (College: South Alabama; Mobile, Ala./Old Colwyn, Wales), Josh Broadaway (College: Troy; Albany, Ga.), Franklin Corpening (College: TCU; Fort Worth, Texas), Jeff Corr (College: Jacksonville State; Longwood, Fla.), Reid Edstrom (College: Auburn; Auburn, Ala.), Matt Fast (College: Mississippi State; Hattiesburg, Miss.), Matt Hendrix (College: Clemson; Greenville, S.C.), Matt Hill (College: NC State; Toronto, ON), Billy Hurley (College: Navy; Annapolis, Md.), John Hurley (College: Texas A&M; ONeill, Neb.), Stephen Jaeger (College: UT Chattanooga; Munich, Germany), Russell Knox (College: Jacksonville; Jacksonville Beach, Fla./Inverness, Scotland), Michael Lavery (College: Cal Irvine; Tustin, Calif.), Dan McCarthy (College: Le Moyne; Syracuse, N.Y.), Rob Oppenheim (College: Rollins; Andover, Mass.), Scott Parel (College: UGA; Augusta, Ga.), Stephen Poole (College: Clemson; Aiken, S.C.), Andy Pope (College; Xavier; Glen Ellyn, Ill.), Sam Saunders (College: Clemson; Orlando, Fla.), David Skinns (College: Tennessee; Lincoln, England), Michael Welch (College: Johnson & Wales; Quincy, Mass.), Andy Winings (College: Kentucky; Brownsburg, Ind.)
Ben Larson – NGA TOUR Winter Series Director, Tournament Director
Chris Zeh – NGA TOUR Social Media Director, Tournament Director
Mark Holden – NGA TOUR Media, Operations
Todd Barbee – NGA TOUR Senior Tournament Director
Expert Picks: Top 10 to Watch for on the 2013 Web.com Tour