Kanada Wins Nationwide, Earns PGA Card

Monday, November 13th 2006, 6:33 am
By: News On 6

RICHMOND, Texas (AP) _ Craig Kanada played his way onto the PGA Tour on Sunday, holing dramatic chips on the final two holes for a one-stroke victory in the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship. Kanada, 10 positions out of a PGA Tour spot at the start of the week, shot an 8-under 64 on Friday and closed with a 66 to finish at 13-under 275. Matt Kuchar (73) and Andrew Buckle (69) tied for second.

Kanada earned $135,000 for the victory that boosted him to 11th on the money list with $297,744, the largest comeback in the history of the Nationwide Tour Championship.

``I feel like I could float across this green right now,'' Kanada said. ``Right now, securing my card is the biggest thing. I wasn't thinking about winning the tournament. That was just one more amazing thing that happened this week.''

Ken Duke, who tied for 14th at 4 under after a 67, won the money title with $382,443 to earn a full exemption on the 2007 PGA Tour and a spot in The Players Championship. The next 21 finishers on the money list are conditionally exempt on the PGA Tour and Nos. 23-37 got spots in the final stage of Q-school.

Kanada last played on the PGA Tour with two starts in 2003. He won earlier this year on the Nationwide Tour in the Utah Energy Solutions Championships.

Johnson Wagner finished second on the money list with $372,069, followed by Cliff Kresge ($339,763), Craig Bowden ($334,671) and Tripp Isenhour ($321,996).

Kanada started the final round in sixth place in the tournament, six shots behind Kuchar, who won the 2002 Honda Classic on the PGA Tour.

Kanada birdied the first three holes and overcame bogeys on the back nine, the last on No. 13 that dropped him to 12 under and one shot behind Kuchar.

``It was up and down out there but I just kept talking to myself and told myself that I could do it,'' Kanada said. ``I tried to sneak a peek at the leaderboards but they were too slow. I just tried to keep making birdies. I just wanted to get to 13 (under par) and I did.''

Kanada charged into the lead with a 25-foot chip in for par on No. 17 and a 48-footer for birdie on the final hole. Kuchar had a chance to tie on the final hole but missed a 7-foot birdie putt.

``I didn't want it to end like that but I had a good score so I'll walk away happy,'' Kuchar said. ``I'm excited to get back to the tour. It would be better to win this tournament and take that with me. But this is still nice.''

Ricky Barnes shot a 65 to finish fourth in the tournament but it wasn't enough to rally from his 31st-place start on the money list. He finished in 23rd place, one position away from the PGA Tour.

Duke, who started the week with $369,318, had to overcome a 76 in Saturday's third round that put his money title in danger. He solved that quickly with four straight birdies to start Sunday's round.

Jim Rutledge, 47, finished 14th on the money list and became the second oldest rookie in PGA Tour history. Allen Doyle was one month older when he joined the tour for the first time.