(Reuters) - Swede Jonas Blixt will have one eye on the race for rookie of the year honors and also the 2013 Masters when he tees off in this week’s Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Blixt, who won his maiden PGA Tour title at last month’s Frys.com Open, has recorded five top-10s on the U.S. circuit this season and would book his place at Augusta National next year if he finishes in the top 30 in the final money list.
His main challenger for rookie of the year is American John Huh, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in February and has won slightly more money than the Swede in 2012 but from a greater number of starts.
”Those are the two big goals I have this week,“ Blixt told reporters on Tuesday while preparing for Thursday’s opening round at Lake Buena Vista. ”It’d just be easier to win, though, right?
“First I was trying to make enough money to stay out here, then qualify for the Invitationals, and now the top 30,” he said of his widening ambitions during his maiden season.
Blixt, whose five top-10s have all come in the latter half of the season, lies 35th in the PGA Tour money list and needs to finish no worse than outright third this week to break into the top 30.
Should that happen, the Swede would achieve a life-long dream in 2013 by making his Masters debut in the opening major of the year.
“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,” Blixt said of Augusta National. “It would be a dream come true.”
While Blixt targets a top-30 spot in the PGA Tour’s season-ending money list, the Children’s Miracle Network Classic is also the last-chance saloon for players yet to secure their full playing privileges for next year.
The top 125 in the money list secure full status for 2013 so this week will be a decisive one for Americans Kevin Chappell (123rd), Billy Mayfair (125th), Gary Christian (127th) and Bill Lunde (129th), as well as Australian Rod Pampling (124th).
A notable absentee this week will be Britain’s former world number one Luke Donald who won last year’s title at Lake Buena Vista by two shots after closing with a sizzling 64.
The Englishman was unable to defend his crown because one of his children was scheduled to have a medical procedure.
“My career as a golfer places many demands on my schedule, and I‘m often forced to miss some precious time with my family as I travel to play around the world,” Donald said in a statement.
“But in this case, home is where I have to be. I‘m very sorry that I will be unable to defend my title ... as that tournament was an important highlight for me in 2011.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury