By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Jonas Blixt polished off his round of 76 around noon on Sunday and planned to head home to take a nap.
He wouldn't get to sleep long, though, because he was heading back at TPC Sawgrass to watch his next-door neighbor David Lingmerth try to win THE PLAYERS Championship later that afternoon.
Lingmerth tees off at 2:38 p.m. ET in the final group of the day with Sergio Garcia. The PGA TOUR rookie is tied for the lead with Garcia and world No. 1 Tiger Woods at 11 under, one stroke ahead of Ryan Palmer, Casey Wittenberg and Henrik Stenson.
Blixt, who met Lingmerth on the Web.com Tour, won't be the only familiar face in his friend's gallery. Lingmerth's financee Megan Mercurio will be nervously walking along with his father Thomas and brother Andras, who flew in from Sweden on Wednesday, along with his coach Hans Larson from the Swedish Golf Federation.
Blixt knows his fellow Swede to be a "fierce competitor." Since Lingmerth moved to Jacksonville Beach in December, the two have been playing practice rounds on the Stadium Course and keep a running tally of their matches. Blixt says that while their scores are modest, generally a couple under par, they are tied 2-2 overall.
"It's almost impossible to talk with him in a normal practice round," Blixt reported. "... He loves to compete and he's good at it. ... But I think it's great. He just does his own thing and he believes in himself."
Blixt says the two live close enough that he can "sneak a peak" into Lingmerth's house from his bedroom. Blixt settled here first, and Lingmerth decided to move because he wanted to live where the winter was more moderate than in Fayetteville, Ark., where he went to college and met Mercurio.
Lingmerth's passions were evident from the get-go, Blixt said. His friend loves ice hockey and considered pursing the sport as a career until he was about 15. He's a big fan of the Washington Capitals and center Nicklas Backstrom, a 25-year-old Swede like Lingmerth.
"I don't know if his first love is golf or ice hockey," Blixt said. "I think it is a little confusing."
There is no confusing Lingmerth's collegiate affiliation, though. He went to Arkansas and remains a staunch supporter.
"He's a huge Razorback fan, absolutely huge," Blixt said. "It's almost impossible to talk to him about anything else, any other teams because they are the best, obviously."
Not even Blixt's alma mater, Florida State? "No, clearly not," he said with a grin. "Even though we are a lot better."
Blixt says putting is the strength of Lingmerth's game. He's tied for first in distance of putts made this week and ranks 14th in strokes gained putting. He's no slouch off the tee, either, and is tied for first in driving distance.
So is Blixt surprised to see Lingmerth with a share of the lead at the PGA TOUR's signature event?
"That's a hard question," Blixt said after a long pause. "Everybody that plays out here, they're good enough to be up there. You always see those normal names like Tiger, not Phil this week but usually Phil and Adam Scott, sometimes you mix it in with a little more unknown players like Lingmerth.
"I'm impressed that he's been keeping his head cold and just keep on chugging along which is great. This is a golf course that really reveals your strengths and weaknesses. I think he's in a good frame of mind right now and he's going to do well this week."
Jason Day has exactly one win in 115 career starts. Look for him to have a Jason Dufner-style rise into the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking. -- Ryan Smithson, Site Producer
Even though he won the Frys.com Open, Jonas Blixt is s till flying under the radar. Despite missing time with a rib injury, Blixt posted 5 Top-10 finishes in his rookie season. He was second on TOUR in Strokes Gained Putting and first in sand saves. -- Fred Albers, PGA TOUR Radio
The last time Phil Mickelson didn't win on TOUR was 2003. Will that change in 2013? Mickelson, who will turn 43 in June, is on the other side of his career, and he continues to battle psoriatic arthritis. I think he's due for a down year. -- Brian Wacker, Side Producer
Bo Van Pelt. He’s placed inside the top 30 in the final FedExCup standings each of the past three seasons. In 2012, he collected a TOUR high-tying 10 top 10s, and is one of the best putters (11th in strokes gained-putting) and one of the best drivers (3rd in total driving). This is the year where Van Pelt wins something big – maybe even the FedExCup. -- Bill Cooney, Site Producer
Gary Woodland. Making a swing change took its toll on one of the TOUR's biggest hitters in 2012. Hopefully he has it figured out by now. -- Mike McAllister, Managing Editor
Due to injury and limited status, Billy Horschel hasn’t had the opportunity to flash his talent over a full season since his debut in 2010. Now healthy and near the top of the opening reshuffle, it would be an upset if he didn’t convert with supreme confidence on top of what was an easy go at q-school that punctuated a quietly solid 2012. -- Rob Bolton, Fantasy Columnist
Gary Woodland. He was essentially a non-factor in 2012 after he was injured amdist a swing change, finishing 134th in FedExCup standings. He showed signs of life in the Fall Series with a T9 at the Frys.com Open, and I think he'll be back to winning-form this season. -- Anne Szeker, Site Producer
I was tempted to say Justin Rose but after eight-top 10s last year, including two in majors, nothing he does would be a surprise. So let's go with big-hitting Gary Woodland, who is fully recovered from that nagging wrist injury and rejuvenated after the hard work he's put in with Butch Harmon. -- Helen Ross, Chief of Correspondents
With a win at Wyndham and (sigh) the Ryder Cup, Sergio Garcia looked like a kid again. And he's only turning 32 on Jan. 9; he still has a lot of productive years ahead. I say this is one of them, with multiple wins. -- John Schwarb, Site Producer
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Jonas Blixt managed to put himself in the conversation for PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year despite missing more than two months with a rib injury when he won the Frys.com Open. The Swede was just starting to acclimate himself with three straight top 10s before his injury -- a healthy 2013 could be an interesting one.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Blixt delighted his siblings, here in the States on holiday, when he fired four sub-70 rounds, including a 68 on Sunday, to win the Frys.com Open. Two make-or-break FedExCup Playoffs events -- one of which included a 5-footer on the 71nd hole at The Barclays to advance -- no doubt contributed to Blixt's solid performance in the fall as he tied for third the week prior to his inaugural victory. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: He told me his putter is his secret weapon. Well it's not secret anymore. Blixt was second on TOUR in strokes gained-putting. He did not have a three putt the entire week in winning the Frys.com Open. Blixt had a great sand save that week on the 16th hole on Sunday and ranked first on TOUR in bunker saves, getting up and down 65 percent of the time. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: While most will remember his blistering beginning to the Fall Series, it's important to circle a stretch in late April and throughout May during which he finished no worse than T13 in four starts, thus planting seeds for the future harvest that was realized. After sitting out several weeks due to a rib injury, he didn't miss a cut in his last seven starts. His wicked short game can play anywhere, so any lumps he takes will be likely due to unfamiliarity with host courses. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finish||1st||Frys.com Open|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 15
Rounds played: 72
Top-10 finishes: 5
Money List rank: 34th
Driving distance: 127th
Driving accuracy: 133rd
Greens in regulation: 134th
Strokes gained-putting: 2nd
Scoring average: 34th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
What is your prediction for Jonas Blixt in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The nominees for 2012 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year were released on Monday -- Charlie Beljan, Jonas Blixt, Bud Cauley, John Huh and Ted Potter Jr.
Players were nominated by the PGA TOUR Player Directors and members of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). The awards are determined by a member vote, with PGA TOUR members who played in at least 15 official money events in 2012 eligible to vote. The balloting process ends on Nov. 30, with the winner to be announced in early December.
A quick look at each Rookie of the Year nominee:
CHARLIE BELJAN: Won one event (Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic), posted three-top-10 finishes, finished 63rd on official money list and 160th in FedExCup points
JONAS BLIXT: Won one event (Frys.com Open), posted five top-10 finishes, finished 34th on the official money list and 71st in FedExCup points
BUD CAULEY: Posted six-top 10 finishes, finished 44th on official money list and 38th in FedExCup points
JOHN HUH: Won one event (Mayakoba Golf Classic), posted four top-10 finishes, finished 28th on official money list and 29th in FedExCup points
TED POTTER JR.: Won one event (The Greenbrier Classic) for his only top-10 finish, finished 62nd on official money list and 93rd in FedExCup points
Now it’s your turn: Who do you think will win this year’s Rookie of the Year?
|Events||1st||2nd||3rd||Top 10||Top 25||Made cut||Money||FEC points||FEC standing|
John Swantek interviews Jonas Blixt from the media center at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic and asks him a variety of questions supplied by fans.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Not everyone at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic is looking for a spot in the top 125 on the money list.
Jonas Blixt, who won the Frys.com Open three weeks ago, already has that wrapped up. If he can move into the top 30, however, he’ll punch his ticket to the course he used to draw as a young boy, Augusta National.
“It looked so cool to me,” said Blixt, who is 35th on the money list and needs a solo third or better this week to move inside the top 30. “I went there four years ago for the first time [as a fan] and thought that was the coolest golf course and atmosphere I’d ever seen. It would be a dream come true.”
Blixt of course has already realized the dream of his first PGA TOUR win after winning in California last month. The victory, plus another strong performance here, could also earn him Rookie of the Year honors.
It’s a long way from where Blixt started this season. “First I was trying to make enough money to stay out here, then qualify for the Invitationals, and now the top 30,” he said.
And he’s miles -- literally -- from where he began his career began in earnest in nearby Celebration, where his swing coach was based.
“That was not a very good time,” said the Swede, who graduated from Florida State in 2008 and had no family, no friends and no support in the area. “It was almost a little weird.”
Blixt lived in a small apartment in the largely retirement community and the guy who he rented it from was also a mechanic. One day Blixt asked him to fix his car. When Blixt returned five weeks later, he found out the mechanic had used the car to drive to New York and back. Needless to say, he moved out after that.
Now living a couple hours north in Jacksonville Beach, Blixt is settled in life and in golf -- though he’s still thinking about money, the same way he was in 2009.
Blixt knew he didn’t have enough money to play the entire year that season on the Web.com Tour. His roommate at the time, Henrik Bjornstad, told him to try not to think about how much he needed to earn. Blixt couldn’t fight the temptation, though, and went on to tie for third in Louisiana anyway.
“I cried because I knew I’d have money to play the rest of year,” Blixt said. “I’m in such a better frame of mind now.”
And in a much better position. Fresh off a week-long vacation in Cancun, Blixt is focused on moving into the top 30 and trying to lock up Rookie of the Year.
“Those are the two big goals I have this week,” he said. “It’d just be easier to win, though, right?”
Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012
1 p.m. ET: Jonas Blixt
1:30 p.m. ET: Jeff Maggert
Wed., Nov. 7, 2012
12:30 p.m. ET: Gary Christian
12:45 p.m. ET: Tommy Gainey
1 p.m. ET: Erik Compton
Have a question for Jonas Blixt? Send us your questions for Direct Connect — PGATOUR.COM’s video franchise that gets you closer to a pro each week — and host John Swantek might use it when he chats with Blixt, winner of Frys.com Open.
Blixt, from Sweden, was already one of top rookies of the 2012 class before the fall, but it was October where he really made his mark on TOUR. He finished third at the JT Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, then won the following week at CordeValle.
If you want to ask Blixt a question, now is your opportunity. Just fill out the form below.
Also, we are now taking video submissions of questions. If you would like to send a video of you asking your question, please email the video to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep video to 20 seconds or less, shoot landscape style, and include your name and where you’re from in the text of your email.
Direct Connect video is posted each Wednesday afternoon on PGATOUR.COM, so please check back then for the Blixt interview.
On Sunday, Jonas Blixt became the third rookie on the PGA TOUR to win this season.