PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Jason Kokrak came within 8 inches of keeping alive his dreams of a PGA Tour victory.
The 33-year-old entered this week’s Valspar Championship winless in 196 career starts on Tour, a testament to a consistent career that has yielded few serious chances to contend with a trophy on the line. But Kokrak had just such an opportunity this weekend at Innisbrook, where a third-round ace propelled him into contention and steady play during the final round kept him there.
Kokrak began the day two shots behind eventual winner Paul Casey, but he joined Casey and Louis Oosthuizen at the top when he became the only player in the final round to birdie the difficult par-3 13th. He still had a share of the lead playing the 18th hole, where his approach from 130 yards away in the rough came up short.
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Kokrak’s lengthy birdie attempt from the fringe raced by, and his 8-footer for par missed by inches. It meant an even-par 71 and a 7 under total, one that ultimately left him one shot behind Casey.
“Irons were good, just I think I caught something in between the face and the club on that last shot there, quit on it a little bit,” Kokrak said. “I just didn’t execute the shot that I needed to. You’ve got to hit it in the fairway here to score and make birdies.”
Kokrak’s T-2 finish is his third career runner-up on Tour, and his first since the 2016 Northern Trust. Having made every cut since The Open in July, he notched three top-10 finishes during the four-event Florida Swing and hopes to have taken another step toward a maiden title.
“It’s a nice week, not the way I wanted to finish,” Kokrak said. “Another stepping stone. I’m getting more and more comfortable, it’s just, I can’t break through.”