Big week for Kokrak
It’s just another work week for Jason Kokrak, as hard as that might be to believe.
That’s the way Kokrak will approach his first appearance in a major golf tournament, the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. The John F. Kennedy High School graduate’s plan is to keep everything in perspective and not get too excited about the opportunity.
“It’s another golf tournament for me,” Kokrak said after a recent round at Squaw Creek Country Club. “I’m trying not to treat it any differently. That’s worked for me in the past. If I put too much pressure on me, I might not play well.”
Kokrak qualified for the PGA on the strength of money winnings since the last PGA Championship. He’s currently 82nd in FedEx Cup points with 521. Kokrak is the 169th-ranked golfer according to the World Ratings, not including results from last week’s Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.
As the 2013 season nears an end, Kokrak can begin looking back at what has been another positive step in his second full season on tour. He’s made 12 of 20 cuts and has three top-10 finishes. His best finish was third at the AT&T National and he’s earned $1,019,221.
One of the highlights of the season for Kokrak came when he earned his 2014 PGA card.
“It’s been solid gold,” Kokrak said of his game. “Last year I got into a little funk and had a hard time getting out of it. This year I’m more solid and better overall.
“I don’t think I’ve changed anything. I’ve worked as hard as I did last year. I think I know the courses better and what to expect this year.”
No monetary value can be placed on the experience and confidence two seasons on tour can generate. There’s no way Kokrak can’t be better than he was at the start of his first season.
“One of the things I’m trying to do is have fun and have a great career on tour,” Kokrak said. “However I can do that, that’s what I want to do. If I’m solid every week or winning once a year, that’s how you’re going to keep your card. I enjoy it and I’m having fun. It can be a grind; more so than some people think.”
Kokrak has never played Oak Hill, but he obviously did some homework before heading to Rochester. No course selected as a major site can ever be considered easy.
“I know the rough is long like other major-style courses and the greens slope from the front to the back of the greens,” he said. “That’s it.”
Kokrak hasn’t visited any golf gurus or sought major changes in his game. What got him this far this season will be all that he’ll rely on.
Kokrak is somewhat unique in that he doesn’t spend considerable time under the microscopes of a variety of instructors. He occasionally consults with area teacher Joe Allen.
“I see him once or twice a year, maybe,” Kokrak said. “I’m a feel player. I don’t work with anybody on tour. Everybody is different. Some work every week with teachers and some don’t.”
The last tour event before the start of the 2013 Playoffs for the FedEx Cup is next week at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C. That event will be followed by The Barclays, the first of four elimination tournaments that will crown the FedEx champion.
The Barclays accepts the top 125 players in FedEx points, which means Kokrak will get a chance at the big prize.
“It’s stress-free golf the rest of the year,” Kokrak said. “I want to still play good golf and make as much money as possible. I don’t have to worry a bit. I don’t need to finish second to keep my card.”
It’s much easier to play golf when you can breathe easier.