|Birthday:||May 22, 1985|
Jason Kokrak was raised in Warren and played high school golf at JFK High School in Warren where he twice led his team to the Ohio Boy's state championship as Division III medalist. He went on to play college golf at Xavier University in Cincinnati and graduated in 2007. During his college career, he won both the 2006 and 2007 Ohio Amateur titles. Kokrak turned professional after graduation.
During the 2007 U.S. Amateur, Kokrak led all players with a score of 137 during the 36 hole match play qualifier at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. That same year, he made an appearance in the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, when he successfully came through sectional and regional qualifying.
In 2011, he exploded onto the pro golf scene over the second half of the Nationwide Tour season — winning two events and nearly capturing the season-ending Tour Championship. It allowed him to finish 4th on the Nationwide money list, which earned him 2012 PGA Tour membership.
Jason Kokrak’s first PGA Tournament in his home state of Ohio came to an end after only two rounds.
By most measures, the Memorial ended for Kokrak on his fifth hole Friday.
After a disappointing 76 in the first round, mostly because of poor putting, Kokrak posted a second-round 77 to finish at 9-over par and miss the 36-hole cut at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Friday did not start out that way.
As a member of the first tee group of the day, Kokrak came out of the gate looking like a player determined to fire a low round and make the cut.
He said as much on Thursday, and seemed ready.
On his first hole of the day, the demanding, uphill 480-yard par-four No. 10, Kokrak ripped a driver right down the middle of the fairway, flew his iron approach about 30 feet past the hole and drained a slippery, downhill putt to finally make his first birdie of the tournament.
Kokrak followed that birdie up with a two-putt birdie on the par-five 11th.
And then the momentum really got going when Kokrak stuck a mid-iron to within 5 feet of the tucked front left pin on the precise par-three 12th.
At 7:20 in the morning, he was at +4.
By 8 a.m., he was down to +1.
The Thursday projection was in full steam.
And then it vanished.
That would be as close to even par as he would get for the tournament.
On the very next hole, the dogleg left, par-four 13th, Kokrak’s tee shot went through the fairway and came to a stop about 2 feet behind a set of trees.
He made a good punch to the greenside bunker, but it couldn’t prevent a momentum-halting bogey.
Back to +2.
Another bogey on the next hole brought him back to +3.
When he failed to capitalize on good birdie opportunities on 15, 16, and 17, it appeared as if Kokrak knew he needed to make something happen to make the cut.
Ideally, an even-par finish over the last 10 holes may have been enough to make the cut. In reality, Kokrak’s tee-to-green game started to slowly come undone, leading to a series of bogeys.
A bad final hole capped an unfortunate Ohio debut, as Kokrak scored a double-bogey 6 on his last hole.
He entered the scorer’s tent to sign off on his homecoming, then disappeared into the swelter of Dublin without saying a word.
No golfer plays well every day.
Whether it was a swing flaw, putter issues, self-inflicted pressure, bad breaks or some other factor, for one reason or another, Kokrak’s first Ohio homecoming event didn’t produce the desired results.
He said prior to the event’s first round: “This (playing in the Memorial) is kind of like a bucket-list thing for me.”
Hopefully for Kokrak and his many Valley fans, this experience will only help lead to increased success at the Memorial for years to come.
Jonah Karzmer is a former golf professional who writes a Sunday golf column for The Vindicator. In his spare time he sells commercial insurance for Huntington Insurance and loves getting feedback on his weekly columns via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.