Insider: Wittenberg enjoying best year on Tour

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Casey Wittenberg has five top-10 finishes -- including two victories -- on the Tour this season.
August 29, 2012
John Dell, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

Casey Wittenberg admits he's "an old 27-year-old" but he can smile about it at the same time.

Wittenberg, who burst onto the scene at the 2004 Masters when he tied for 13th as an amateur, is having his best season since turning pro eight years ago and he's doing it on the Tour.

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"I've logged a lot of miles in the air and in my car," Wittenberg said about his pro career that has taken him around the world. "I've played just about every tour that's out there. But it's been a great experience and it's been humbling and I think I appreciate golf now more than ever, and it's because of all of those experiences."

Wittenberg, who turned pro at age 19 after attending Oklahoma State, has had his game dialed in all season. He heads into this week's stop on the Tour at the Mylan Classic just outside of Pittsburgh just behind Luke List in the season-long race for the money title.

Wittenberg, who has two victories this season, is second on the money list with $304,628 and trails List by about $4,500.

"I would definitely say it's been consistency," Wittenberg said about what has gone right for him.

Not only has he been one of the most consistent players on the Tour this season, he used that confidence to finish tied for 10th at the U.S. Open in June.

"I started working with Anthony Kim's teacher, Adam Shriver, and he's given me a little different philosophy and maybe a little different way of going about it," Wittenberg said about the biggest change he made to start the season. "I would say my consistency of my ball striking is pretty much been there all year."

Wittenberg got his season going in the right direction in late March by winning the Chitimacha Louisiana Open by going 24 under. He shot rounds of 66-66-63-65 and called it the best tournament he's played.

"I would say Louisiana was one of my best weeks I ever had," Wittenberg said about the biggest victory of his pro career. "It was the best I struck the golf ball for four straight rounds. It definitely opened up my eyes and maybe it was a little earlier than I expected but that was a very good week for me."

Wittenberg hit a little lull right after the victory -- missing three cuts in four tournaments -- but he rebounded nicely later in the summer by winning the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open. He opened that tournament with a 63 and wound up 18 under for the tournament.

Heading into this week, Wittenberg is second on the tour in scoring average at 69.53 and he's 10th in the all-around category.

"It's just a matter of if my putter's been hot, then I've been having good finishes," Wittenberg said.

Inside THE 25
1 Luke List $309,196
2 Casey Wittenberg $304,628
3 Ben Kohles $262,875
4 Paul Haley II $252,726
5 Andres Gonzales $229,072

When Wittenberg left Oklahoma State big things were predicted but it didn't happen right away. He never reached the PGA TOUR full-time until 2009 and said that season was a bit of a learning experience.

"The tougher the golf course the tougher of competition and the pins are in hard spots so I learned a lot," he said about 2009, when he played in 25 tournaments and made just 10 cuts to finish 166th in the FedExCup standings.

During that full season on the PGA TOUR, Wittenberg said there were plenty of bumps in the road.

"You just have to be a better overall golfer on the PGA TOUR," Wittenberg said. "You have to be able to move the ball both ways to get around and you can get away with doing it one way but it really helps if you can draw and fade the ball."

With his place on the money list secure on the Tour, Wittenberg will be back for another crack at the PGA TOUR in 2013. And when he does arrive there next year he'll be married. He and his finance, Haley Spratt, are engaged to be married on Dec. 30.

"That will be different for me next year, but I'm looking forward to that change in my life," he said.

Wittenberg admits that the learning curve in pro golf is steep, especially since the talent from all over the world has gotten better and better.

"I've been doing this for eight years so I'm no longer a rookie even though I'm just 27," Wittenberg said. "I have a lot of tournaments under my belt and experience especially on all the mini tours. All of that helps me out."

Wittenberg said to have a place to hone his game such as the Tour has helped him become a better golfer.

"The Tour is so highly competitive and while the courses aren't necessarily set up as hard as the PGA TOUR courses it's still hard to win out here," Wittenberg said. "It's hard to shoot 5, 6 or 7 under every day and that's what you have to do on the Tour."

Wittenberg, whose father Jim played on the PGA TOUR in the mid 1970s, has noticed that since he turned pro the young golfers coming up are bigger and stronger and more athletic. That's why it's becoming harder and harder to win on any tour.

"It's a tough job as a professional golfer and it's sometimes hard to explain to people how hard it is out there on any tour," Wittenberg said. "We are very fortunate to have an opportunity on the Tour to play and especially if you play well they give you an opportunity to go play the PGA TOUR."

As for the rest of the season on the Tour, Wittenberg is looking forward to the challenge of trying to win the money title.

"I would love to do it," Wittenberg said. "I think it's more about the process for me and getting my golf game where it needs to be for the start of next year. I'm fortunate enough to know I'm going to have a PGA TOUR card next year so I can kind of gear my game toward that."

Wittenberg said he heard plenty of criticism after leaving Oklahoma State early to turn pro but he wouldn't change a thing.

"Not everybody is going to like every decision you make," Wittenberg said. "And I feel like it was the best decision for me and my family. I've gotten to see the world and play golf and now that I'm 27 I wouldn't take it back for anything. And I feel like my golf game has progressed."

John Dell has covered golf for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina for the last 19 years. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. You can reach him at