Jonas Blixt is a 28-year-old native of Sweden and a PGA Tour rookie in 2012. A co-leader after 36 holes in the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, he has a chance to be the third rookie winner this season.
Blixt earned his Tour card by finishing fifth on the Nationwide Tour* money list in 2011. Following a tie for 13th at the Zurich Classic, in April of 2012, he finished in the top 10 in three consecutive PGA Tour events, including a tie for third in the Byron Nelson Championship. Just as it seemed his game was blossoming, he suffered a rib injury and missed two months. With three top 10s in only 17 events played, plus nearly $1 Million in earnings, Jonas Blixt has had a successful rookie season. Victory in the Timberlake Shriners Open, on Sunday, October 7th, would make him a candidate for Rookie of the Year honors.
2012 Rookie Winners
John Huh began the season as a 21-year-old rookie and nearly claimed victory in his second event, before a final round 74 left him tied for sixth in the Farmers Insurance Open. He followed that with a tie for 12th in Phoenix, four rounds of 71 or better at Pebble Beach, and hoisted the winners trophy at the Mayakoba Classic on February 26th. Finishing 29th in FedEx Cup points, with more than $2.5 Million in earnings, Huh is the favorite to be Rookie of the Year.
Ted Potter, Jr. won twice on the Nationwide Tour in 2011, finishing second on that money list to earn his 2012 PGA Tour card. The 28-year-old native of Ocala, Florida, has had an up and down rookie campaign, making the cut in 12 of 23 events and finishing in the top 10 only one time. That one top 10, however, was a victory in The Greenbrier Classic on July 8, where he posted consecutive 64s in the final two rounds.
Both John Huh and Ted Potter, Jr. won their championships in playoffs. Huh's eight hole playoff with Robert Allenby tied the longest playoff victory in PGA Tour history**. Potter won a three hole playoff against Troy Kelly, who was also challenging for his first career win on the PGA Tour.
Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
The Timberlake Shriners Open has produced first-time PGA Tour winners in eight of the last ten years, including 2011 champion Kevin Na. Midway through the 2012 event, being played at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, three of the top five are looking for their first career victory. Jonas Blixt and Brendon de Jonge are co-leaders at 14-under par, with Daniel Summerhays tied for third at 11-under par.
*Now known as the Web.com Tour.
**The 1949 Motor City Open playoff lasted 11 holes, before Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum agreed to split the prize money as co-champions.
Harold Andrews has played golf for nearly 50 years. He considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest of all time.