Uphill battle for Wilkinson to secure PGA card
New Zealand golfer Tim Wilkinson hasn't made the fast start he would have been hoping for as he chases a PGA Tour card for 2013 at this week's web.com tour season-ending Tour Championship.
Wilkinson notched four birdies but also three bogeys as he signed for a one-under par 70 in the opening round at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, which puts him in a share of 31st.
The Manawatu left-hander went into the tournament in 56th place on the second-tier United States tour's order of merit with earnings of $97,537 and needs to win enough cash to drag himself inside the top 25 after this week to win a PGA Tour card.
That will probably require at least a top-five finish but he's well off that pace, with six golfers tied for the lead at six-under par.
If Wilkinson was to finish between 26th and 40th on the money list he would go straight through to the final stage of PGA Tour qualifying school, but otherwise he'll have to go through two stages of qualifying in order to be playing on the big stage next year.
Elsewhere, Michael Campbell made a middling start to the European Tour's BMW Masters in Shanghai.
Campbell signed for a one-under par 71 at the Lake Malaren Golf Club, a round that included three birdies and two bogeys, and is tied for 39th in the 78-strong field.
The 2005 US Open champion, who has had three top-15s during the past two months, is a whopping nine shots behind Welshman Jamie Donaldson who carded a 10-under 62 to hold a four-shot lead over European Ryder Cup players Peter Hanson and Francesco Molinari after the first round. World No 1 Rory McIlroy is poised to contend after a five-under 67.
Closer to home, most of the 15 New Zealanders are off the pace at the PGA Tour of Australasia's WA Open at the Royal Perth Golf Course.
Only three Kiwis are inside the top 40 after the first round; Michael Long and runaway order of merit leader Michael Hendry are among 13 players in a share of 12th after two-under par 70s while Mark Brown, who is second on the order of merit, is tied for 25th a further shot back.
Australian Adam Crawford has a one-shot lead over four players following a five-under par 67.
* Danny Lee's final PGA Tour event of the year, the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Lake Buena Vista, Florida, starts on November 8, not today as was reported yesterday.
Lee will need to big finish to retain his PGA Tour card for 2013 and avoid a trip to qualifying school later next month.
- © Fairfax NZ News