By: Brendan Burris ~Staff Writer~
Those tuning in to this weekend’s PGA Tour Genesis Open in California saw Dustin Johnson run away with the tournament en route to becoming the No. 1 player in the world. Look closely at the leaderboard, though, and you’d also see former Xavier men’s golf player Jason Kokrak (’07), who went into the weekend in the top 10 after shooting 67- 70 and continued the strong play into a T-22 finish at the event and his fourth top-25 finish of the young Tour season.
After playing a few PGA Tour events from time to time, including the 2007 US Open, Kokrak used a great 2011 season on the then-Nationwide Tour, one level below the PGA Tour, and vaulted himself into a full Tour schedule in 2012. He hasn’t looked back since. Of his first few years, 2013 proved to be the most successful, finishing the season with one third-place finish, four top-10s and six top-25s, good for 62nd in the FedEx cup standings and more than $1 million in earnings on the year.
2016, however, proved to be Kokrak’s breakout year. After a back-and-forth start to the season, he finished T2 at the then Northern Trust Open, interestingly enough on the same golf course he finished in the top 25 just this past weekend. Continuing the back-and-forth play, he finished T6 at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina and made the cut in both of the major championships he played in (US Open & PGA Championship).
Needing to play well week in and week out in the final stretch of the season, Kokrak posted a T7 & T8 in back-to-back FedEx Cup Playoff events. He just missed out on a top-30 playoff finish, which would have guaranteed a spot in the Tour Championship and a spot in the Masters this year.
“(I’m) not quite sure what exactly has been a key, but I’ve gotten married,” Kokrak told the Newswire in reference to his recent success. “Just had my firstborn son about a month ago. I would say time and practice and sticking to the process of getting better.”
In addition, when asked about the influence Xavier had on him as a student and athlete, he said, “My time at Xavier gave me a lot of experience on plenty of great PGA Tour style golf courses. Great team atmosphere as well as a first class education.”
2017 has gotten off to a great start for Kokrak as well, with four top-25s in nine official starts. Sitting at No. 100 in the Official World Golf Rankings, he will have a busy season on the Tour and will look to continue his solid play and qualify for as many of the major championships as possible.
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