After a gruelling stretch of tournaments, Kiwi Nick Voke has topped off all his hard work in the offseason with a ninth placing at the Simmons Bank Open in College Grove Tennessee.
Finishing with rounds of 70,70,70 and 69, the 9-under overall score was Voke’s best of the year and should see him move into 84th place on the Korn Ferry Tour, the top 25 are guaranteed PGA Tour cards for the next season.
Voke, who is a former college player and is now based in the United States, started his final round with two birdies on the 2nd and 4th holes before a bogey arrested the momentum on the 6th. He turned at 1-under for the day and then picked a further shot up at the 11th with a birdie to get back to 2-under and made another at the final hole after a string of pars.
Speaking with NZ Golf Magazine after the tournament, Voke said he was happy with his round and how things are coming together after such a long stretch of tournaments.
“It’s pretty solid stuff, I’m pleased with the result, it’s gruelling out there so I’m excited to have a couple of days off now,” Voke said.
“My caddy Lenny said we never really gave up our position. We always just kept chipping away at the guys ahead of us on the leaderboard, which is really cool. No double bogeys. We didn’t bogey a par three it was just really solid stuff.
Voke’s year has been tumultuous, to say the least, in the last five tournaments alone he has missed the cut three times and then tied for 46th and 21st before his 9th today.
“It’s been far from smooth sailing [this year], that’s for sure.
“It was quite unusual, so I made the first two cuts, then missed the next three and that stretch of golf was just really unusual. The first week I hit it awesome and things didn’t really go my way. That’s fine. The next week I got sick, re-tested for Covid twice during the week, negative both times. So I just had a bit of a flu.
“Then there was a week off, and then we went to Vegas and the wind howled and it was just a really weird stretch of events. So it’s nice to get back on the horse and get a few good more results under the belt.
Voke spent the offseason honing his skills in Arizona and believes it is now starting to pay off.
“The four months I had in Arizona for our offseason was terrific for me, we worked on a bunch of swing mechanic things,” Voke explained.
“It’s an ongoing process. I have made great strides with my ball striking, just the control and the flights that I could hit.
“What’s improved in the last six months has just been my control, with my irons and my driver just moving it better. Delivering the club in a better spot, producing the ball flight that I can control a bit more.
“You know you’re on a par three, real tough hit a great shock to the middle of the green and then two-putt for an easy stress-free par. It’s been a game-changer.”
With more than half the season gone, Voke’s attention now turns to the end of season rankings and what he needs to do to have a chance at that elusive PGA Tour card.
“A dream scenario would be to finish in the top 25 on the regular season order of merit,” Voke explained, “because it’s two seasons wrapped into one sort of scenario[this year] it’s quite difficult to ascend up that highly so the more likely route would be to finish in the top 75 which would retain my [Korn Ferry]tour card for the next year, but also get me into the postseason play.
“So you finish in that top 75 then you get three events at the end of the year. A fresh slate, everyone starts from zero, top 25 then get their tour card as well. So there are multiple ways to do it. And look, I’ve been told this a million times, and it’s so true. Good golf takes care of everything.”
After a tough stretch, Voke is taking a couple of days break now before he embarks on his next assignment.
“We’re off to Knoxville next week, which is about a three-hour drive. Typically, week to week Monday’s our travel day but because of four on the trot, now heading into the fifth week we’re taking Monday and Tuesday off and we are staying with my coach’s sister here in Nashville, and it’s just such a beautiful family. Very welcoming so we were hanging out with them for a couple more days and we’ll play a bit of tennis tomorrow, go for a swim, get a massage and have half of an off week which is good.”
Fellow Kiwi Steve Alker missed the cut in the same tournament after rounds of 81 and 74.