Family man

Presence of wife, son aids Kokrak on tour


Swing coach Drew Steckel provided the needed tweaks.

Jason Kokrak made the adjustments on the driving range.

Trust the process. Kokrak, a Warren native, did just that.

The result was a tie for third at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier — nestled near the West Virginia-Virginia border among the unmolested greenery of the Appalachian Mountains — the best finish of the 2018 season for Kokrak. It’s one of four top-10 placements. Three of his four rounds were below 70.

“It seemed to work out pretty good,” said Kokrak, a 33-year-old John F. Kennedy High School graduate. “Didn’t make the other putts I should have. I played very solid golf, very, very pleased in the finish I had.

“I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities, just kept doing that all week long. It was trusting the shots that I was hitting. It seemed to work.”

Kokrak and his wife, Stephanie, are the proud parents of an 18-month-old boy named Declan.

All three usually travel from stop to stop on the PGA Tour, renting houses to get a semblance of home, which is Charlotte, North Carolina.

That way Jason doesn’t miss much of his little man walking, talking and developing his own personality.

It’s good way to take his mind off of golf.

Jason has struggled a bit the past few months. One day is bad, another good. It’s just stringing together a couple of rounds.

Even on the course, thinking of Declan puts things into perspective.

“He’s just mumbling stuff, having a good time,” Jason said. “It makes you think golf isn’t the end-all, be-all in your existence. It’s just this little boy, your family. You’ve got to have fun while they’re that age.

“It’s going even faster than I thought.”

Stephanie and Declan are the main arteries of Jason’s support system, then there’s some back here in Warren, Canada and even Chicago.

Stephanie is the calming effect Jason needs on a PGA Tour where players have to stay even keel. A range of emotions can’t happen with these professionals. Too many factors play into stops on tour.

“She’s with me all the time,” Jason said. “There’s events where I need to go figure things out. I’m going in the right direction again. She’s huge at putting my mind at ease. I don’t have to worry about anything going on at home. She’s going to take good care of my little guy. She’s there morning, noon and night and has my back all the time.”

Support, repetition and recent success. Jason takes all that into the July 19-22 British Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland.

Kokrak has a FedEx Cup ranking of 64 and has $1,333,937 in earnings this season, but hopes to get within the top 30. He made the Tour Championship last season and wants to get there again this season. That’s the golden ticket to majors and invitationals.

“Basically, you can set your schedule because you’re in every event you want,” he said.

Kokrak wants to break into the top 50 or 60 next year so he can get into the World Golf Championships events. The Bridgestone Invitational at the Firestone Country Club in Akron is Aug. 2-5, but is a WGC event. He’s hoping to qualify, but has plenty of work to do to get there.

“It would be an outside chance I could get that done,” Kokrak said. “There still is a chance I could work my way into that event. It would be great to play as close to home as I’ve ever played in quite some time outside of the U.S. Open in Oakmont.”

Just imagine his support system at that event.