Planet Golf — 14 October 2012 by GW staff and news services
Blixt becomes first-time Tour winner

SAN MARTIN, Ca. – After entering the day two strokes behind 54-hole leader John Mallinger, PGA Tour rookie Jonas Blixt carded a final-round 3-under 68 to defeat Tim Petrovic (64) and Jason Kokrak (68) by one stroke.

Blixt records his first PGA Tour victory at the age of 28 years, 5 months and 20 days, becoming the 14th player in his 20s to win this season (18 overall wins). Four of the last five events have been won by players in their 20s.

Blixt tops his previous-best finish on the Tour – a third-place showing at last week’s Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and a T3 at the 2012 HP Byron Nelson Championship.

He earned $900,000 in the Fall Series event and a tour exemption through the 2014 season.

“The weird part is I’ve been working on some stuff with my swing, and I wasn’t feeling completely 100 percent about my swing,” Blixt said. “I just told myself, `Just give it a good hit every time and see what happens. Just focus. You can’t do anything better than your best.’ That’s what I did on every shot.”

Petrovic and Kokrak tied for second. Petrovic had a 64, and Kokrak shot a 68.

Third-round leader John Mallinger had a 72 to tie for fourth at 14 under with Jimmy Walker, Vijay Singh and Alexandre Roch. Walker closed with a 62, and Singh and Rocha shot 68.

Blixt made a 9-foot birdie putt on the par-5 15th for a share of the lead, and holed a 7 1/2-footer on the short par-4 17th to pull ahead. He set up the birdie on 17 with an approach shot from the rough.

“It was a bad lie, but the ball came out well,” Blixt said.

Two strokes behind Mallinger entering the round, Blixt birdied the first two holes, but gave back the strokes with bogeys on the next two. The 28-year-old former Florida State player made a birdie on the par-4 sixth, then had eight straight pars before the birdie on 15.

Blixt was making his 19th start. He finished third last week in Las Vegas.

“You learn something every time,” Blixt said. “Last week I didn’t play very well in the final round. I got a little too cute with some shots and wasn’t aggressive enough.”

The only other rookie winners this year are John Huh in the Mayakoba Golf Classic in February and Ted Potter Jr. in The Greenbrier Classic in July.

“First of all, my family is here, so it’s been really relaxed,” Blixt said. “I’ve barely touched a golf club after a round, which is really weird for me. A lot of people would say that’s really weird.”

Blixt’s first love is hockey and he hopes the NHL lockout will end soon.

Final-Round Leaderboard: Jonas Blixt 66-68-66-68—200 (-16); Tim Petrovic 70-68-67-64—269 (-15); Jason Kokrak 68-66-67-68—269 (-15)

Jonas Blixt

    • Blixt moves to No. 35 on the Tour money list, with the top 30 at year’s end earning an invitation to the 2013 Masters.
    • Blixt joins John Huh and Ted Potter Jr. as rookie winners in 2012. He is the seventh first-time winner of the year, and first since Ted Potter Jr. won the Greenbrier Classic.
    • Becomes the second first-time winner in the six-year history of the Open (Bryce Molder/2011).
    • Making his 19th start of the season, Blixt records his fifth top-10 and eighth top-25 finish of the season.
    • Blixt was one of four players with all four rounds in the 60s this week.
    • Blixt’s 68 on Sunday of the Open is his ninth consecutive, sub-par round, dating to the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship (68).
    • Blixt went the entire week without a 3-putt, extending the PGA Tour’s longest active streak without a 3-putt to 243 holes, dating to the third round of The Barclays.
    • Blixt becomes the eighth Swedish player to win on the PGA Tour, joining Jesper Parnevik, Carl Pettersson, Gabriel Hjertstedt, Daniel Chopra, Henrik Stenson, Mathias Gronberg and Richard S. Johnson.
    • Stats for the week: T43 in Fairways Hit (32/56-57.1%), T59 in Greens in Regulation (48/72-66.7%), 1st in Strokes Gained – Putting (2.468 per round), T10 in Sand Saves (5 of 6), 41st in Driving Distance (281.7 yards).
    • With the victory, Blixt becomes fully-exempt through the end of the 2014 season. The victory also guarantees a trip to the 2013 PGA Championship (has never played in a major).
    • Blixt’s win is the 344th by a former member of the Tour. A year ago, he finished fifth on the Tour’s money list to earn his card for this season.

Tim Petrovic

    • Petrovic finished one stroke behind Jonas Blixt for the fourth runner-up finish of his career. He also finished second at the 2007 Wyndham Championship, 2003 84 Lumber Classic of Pennsylvania, and 2002 FedEx St. Jude Classic.
    • Petrovic was seeking his second-career victory (2005 Zurich Classic of New Orleans).ou
    • The 46-year old Petrovic was seeking to become the oldest winner on the PGA Tour since Rocco Mediate won the 2010 Open at the age of 47 years and 10 months.
    • Petrovic’s T2 is his first top-10 finish since the 2010 Memorial Tournament (T5).
    • Petrovic’s T2 comes in his 15th start of the season, with this week representing just his seventh made cut. His previous-best finish was T16 at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Vijay Singh

    • Seeking his first win since the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship, World Golf Hall of Fame member and 34-time PGA Tpur winner Singh carded a final-round 3-under 68 to finish T4 in his first start at the Open. It was his 500th official start.
    • Singh has claimed four of his five top 10s this year in his last eight starts, dating to T9 at the British Open in July.
    • Singh was seeking to become the oldest winner on the PGA Tour since Fred Funk won the 2007 Mayakoba Golf Classic at the age of 50 years, 8 months, 11 days. Singh turned 49 years, 7 months and 22 days on Sunday.

Nicolas Colsaerts

    • Colsaerts of Belgium accepted Special Temporary Membership on Sept. 5 for the remainder of the 2012 PGA Tour season, and is eligible to receive unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the season.
    • Including a T35 finish this week, Colsaerts has earned $677,011 in nine starts (would put him at No. 119 on the official money list), which includes three World Golf Championships starts. To earn his Tour card for next year, he needs to remain inside the top 125 on the 2012 money list (currently Billy Mayfair at $612,361).
    • Colsaerts was originally a sponsor exemption in the Open, but ended up getting in on his number after the last reshuffle on Sept. 24.
    • Colsaerts went 1-3-0 in his first appearance in the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club in Chicago.

Final-round notes:

    • Third-round leader John Mallinger carded a 1-over 72 on Sunday to finish T4. Mallinger entered the day with a two-stroke lead but posted five bogeys on his front nine (3-over 38) and was never able to regain the lead.
    • This marked the second time Mallinger has held the third-round lead/co-lead on the PGA Tour. He previously held a share of the 54-hole lead at the 2009 HP Byron Nelson Championship, before finishing T6.
    • The third-round leader has held on for the win in 15 of 42 stroke-play events this season. The last to do so was Ryan Moore at last week’s Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
    • The Open has been played at CordeValle GC since 2010. Rocco Mediate held a three-stroke lead after three rounds en route to winning in 2010. Last year, Briny Baird led Paul Casey and Ernie Els by two strokes after the third round before a playoff loss to Bryce Molder.
    • Tour rookie Jason Kokrak was one of four players with all four rounds in the 60s this week. His T2 finish topped his previous-best finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (T9). He moves from No. 167 to No. 117 on the Official Money List.
    • Defending champion Bryce Molder finished T11. By comparison, the best finish by a defending champion this season is T3, recorded by Jonathan Byrd at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship and Dustin Johnson at The Barclays.
    • Jimmy Walker equaled his career-low round with a 9-under 62 on Sunday, finishing T4. He also carded 62s during the third round of the 2011 Greenbrier Classic (finished T4) and the second round of the 2012 Wyndham Championship (finished T4). The T4 finish represented his career-high sixth top 10 of the 2012 season, equaling his best finish at the Northern Trust Open and Wyndham Championship.
    • Gary Woodland finished T9 for his first top-10 finish since finishing T4 at the 2011 Greenbrier Classic.
    • Tour rookie Russell Knox finished T9 for his first-career top-10 finish (22 starts).
    • Derek Ernst, who finished his collegiate career at UNLV this past spring, Monday Qualified to get into the field this week and finished T41. Making his first career start in a TOUR event, Ernst is a 22-year-old native of Clovis, Ca. He competed in this summer’s Palmer Cup in Northern Ireland before turning professional. He also lost in the finals of the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links.
    • Reigning British Open champion Ernie Els finished T16, one year after a T4 finish at the Open.
    • After successfully Monday Qualifying for the sixth time of the season last week at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (finished T22), Patrick Reed finished a career-best T11 this week via a sponsor exemption.


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