Some people may have scoffed when Justin Lower said that NGA TOUR fields are so deep there could be 18 different winners this season. But with each passing event, Lower’s words only become more prophetic.
M.J. Daffue became the sixth different winner in six events this season by outlasting Sihwan Kim on Sunday afternoon in the NeSmith Chevrolet Classic at Sapelo Hammock Golf Club. The former Lamar University standout from Pretoria, South Africa, used a 4-under 67 in the final round to finish at 12-under par and one stroke clear of Kim.
“It feels good to get this win,” said Daffue, who earned $22,000. “I set a goal at the beginning of the year to win twice. I knew I could win out here, but winning the first one will make it a lot easier to reach my goal.”
After opening with a 2-under 69 in the first round, Daffue, who started the season on the European Tour, clawed his way back into contention with a 6-under 65 in the second round that left him tied for third.
“The second round was real important,” said Daffue. “I double bogeyed my final hole in the first round and made a bogey at the start of the second round. I was mad, but I knew I was playing well. I shot 6 under and it could have been way better.”
Daffue started the final round trailing second-round leader Matt Hendrix by three strokes, but a pair of early bogeys by Hendrix quickly closed the gap.
“Once I saw the leaderboard on No. 8, it settled me down,” said Daffue.
“My goal was to shot 4-under today and anything more than that was a bonus. I stuck to my goal and played a stress-free round of golf. A lot of my pars were tap-ins. I made two bogeys, but I could’ve been three or four shots better today. I got a new putter, worked hard with my coach before this event and I putted great this week.”
With the victory, Daffue jumps into the thick of the race for the event exemption into the Web.com Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am, which will be awarded to the NGA member that earns the most money in the Kandy Waters Memorial Classic, Milton Martin Honda Classic, NeSmith Chevrolet Classic and next week’s Brunswick-Heritage Oaks Classic.
Kim, a Stanford alumnus from Orlando, Fla., carded a bogey-free 65 in the final round to move from T10 into solo second at 11-under par. Kim, who earned three top-20 finishes on the European Tour in 2012, was making his first start on the NGA TOUR.
Former Armstrong Atlantic golfer Chris Wolfe also posted a 6-under 65 in the final round on Sunday. The Warner Robins’ resident posted seven birdies and one bogey in the final round to finish at 10-under par.
Paul Brown, a former College of Charleston golfer from Hartsville, S.C., started and ended the final round tied for third. Brown recorded five birdies and three bogeys on Sunday to earn a career-best finish on the NGA TOUR Pro Series.
First-round leader Zack Sucher, a 2012 Web.com Tour member, and second-round leader Hendrix, a 2013 Web.com Tour member, slipped into a tie for fifth at the finish, shooting 69 and 73, respectively, on Sunday. Brendon Ehlers carded an even-par 71 in the final round to join Hendrix and Sucher at 9-under par.
Blake Sattler posted a 3-under 68 on Sunday to finish alone in eighth at 8-under par, while rookie Trent Whitekiller continued his strong start to the season, posting a final-round 68 to finish at 7-under par and tied for ninth with Thomas Campbell (67).
The NGA TOUR will return to action April 11 with the playing of the Brunswick-Heritage Oaks Classic.
The NGA Pro Golf Tour is the No. 3 Men’s Professional Golf Tour in the United States after the PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour and is the No. 1 recommended developmental tour by more PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour Professionals.
The NGA has helped hundreds of professionals acquire their PGA TOUR, Euro, Web.com, and Champions Tour cards. In fact, NGA alumni have won an incredible fifteen (15) “Major” championships. On average, over 60% of every Web.com Tour field and over 40% of every PGA TOUR field have spent time on the NGA TOUR.
NGA alumni include: 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson; 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley; 2010 PGA TOUR Player of the Year and
2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk; 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink; 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover; 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson; 2003 PGA Champion Shaun Micheel; 2003 British Open champion Ben Curtis; two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen; British Open and PGA champion John Daly; British Open champion Tom Lehman; PGA champion David Toms; 2003 Tour Championship winner Chad Campbell; 2010 NGA Player of the Year and 2013 Honda Classic champion Michael Thompson; and recent PGA TOUR winners Russell Henley, Kevin Streelman, Scott Brown, Brian Gay, Mark Wilson, George McNeill, Ted Potter Jr., Scott Stallings, Scott Piercy, Gary Woodland and many, many more.
The NGA Pro Golf Tour, established in 1988, predates the Web.com Tour as the longest running developmental tour in golf. Since 2010, the NGA TOUR has received 20 Web.com Tour and two PGA TOUR event exemptions, the most in developmental golf. In 2012, the NGA TOUR became the “Official Partner of the Reno-Tahoe Open,” one of just 45 PGA TOUR events worldwide, and now the only event on the PGA TOUR calendar with a Modified Stableford scoring format..