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MEDINAH, Ill. – A professional for more than a decade and a PGA Tour veteran since 2012, Jason Kokrak estimates that he’s been invited to Augusta National Golf Club “a hundred times.” But the most iconic landscape in golf remains a mystery to him.
“Never gone,” Kokrak said.
Much like a hockey player who refuses to touch the Stanley Cup until he can engrave his name on it, Kokrak doesn’t want to drive down Magnolia Lane until it’s to play in his first Masters. That has remained elusive for the 34-year-old, this despite a consistent career that has included 208 starts and more than $11 million in earnings.
But that could change this week for Kokrak, who entered the BMW Championship in 32nd place in the points race. There are plenty of incentives that would come with his first berth in the 30-man Tour Championship, but the most enticing is locking up a spot in the 2020 Masters.
“That’s one of my all-time dreams,” Kokrak said. “I’ve never gone to Augusta. To lock up the (invite), to be able to go there would be pretty special.”
Kokrak made a big stride toward securing that invite with a 7-under 65 that tied the Medinah course record and gave him a share of the opening-round lead alongside Justin Thomas.
Kokrak has won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour, most recently in 2011, but he has never won on the main circuit. He came close earlier this year, finishing a shot behind Paul Casey at the Valspar Championship, but he’s hoping to put the hard lessons learned in Tampa to use this week in Chicago, where he doesn’t lack for motivation.
“I guess just staying in the moment,” Kokrak said. “I’m one of those guys, I like to know where I’m at. I like to know exactly what I need to do. I think just staying in the moment, taking it one shot at a time and not getting ahead of myself.”