Greens prove tricky for Wilkinson

Putting proved costly for Tim Wilkinson at the six-round PGA Tour qualifying school in Florida.

The Manawatu professional finished three-under par in Florida yesterday to sew up a fully exempt Nationwide Tour card for next year after having spent 2 ½ seasons on the PGA Tour.

Wilkinson had eight three-putts for the week and missed 15 inside "eight feet" and that saw him finish equal 64th in the original final-stage field of 166.

He had rounds of 72, 72, 71, 68, 72 and 71 at Orange County National, Florida, where he won his full card in 2007. His Manawatu Golf Club coach, Andre White, said Wilkinson felt uncomfortable over the putter and could not easily read the lines of the putts because the greens had been over-sown.

The break of the putts was unpredictable.

"He kept grazing the edges of the holes," White said.

The top 25 qualifiers and ties, 29 players at nine-under par or better, earned their full PGA Tour cards.

Wilkinson was among the next nearest number to 50 to receive fully exempt Nationwide Tour cards for the first 10 events next year.

He earned $5000 in prize money which refunded his entry fee of US$3500 (NZ$4600).

Wilkinson told White yesterday he had been hitting the ball further than ever and felt his game had moved on after his thumb injury in June last year. His final round of 71 improved him 10 places from overnight.

"He was disappointed not to have made it but he was pretty upbeat," White said. "Now he needs to prove he can win on the Nationwide Tour."

He headed back to his Florida home before flying to Palmerston North for Christmas.

With no news about if and when the New Zealand Open will be staged, Wilkinson probably will not play again until the Nationwide Tour starts in late February.

Manawatu Standard