- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Kevin Kisner won’t ever forget the disappointment of watching six competitive rounds last fall come down to one stroke.

Kisner missed his PGA Tour card by a shot at Q-school last year, a 15-footer for par that slid by on the 108th and final hole that left him outside the game’s top tour.

“It’s was 108 holes and I missed by a man,” Kisner said Wednesday, the day before the start of the Nationwide Tour Championship.

Kisner won’t have such regrets this year. He comes in No. 11 and is secure among the Nationwide’s top 25 money winners _ all who earn PGA Tour playing privileges in 2011.

“I’m sure it takes away some pressure, more than if I was number 25,” Kisner said. “But I’m trying to treat it like another golf tournament.”

There’s incentives out there for everyone in the field. While 25 golfers leave with PGA Tour status for next season, only the Nationwide’s top money winner is fully exempt and earns a place in The Players Championship next May.

Former Southern California standout Jamie Lovemark, at age 22 the youngest player on tour, leads the way with $421,784, which is a $10,578 edge on Chris Kirk in second place. Lovemark is grateful he won’t be sweating out where he’ll play next season.

“For, I think, probably the top 15 guys on the money list, you know what you’re doing” in 2011, Lovemark said. “For guys from 20 to 30, it’s a lot of pressure to play well, a lot of pressure to get your card.”

Competitors who finish 26-40 on the money list move directly to final stage qualifying. All golfers here have Nationwide Tour status for 2011.

The Nationwide Tour’s top 60 money winners are either shooting to move up to a PGA promotion or are protecting their hard-earned spot on the big tour.

“Nobody wants to play on the Nationwide Tour. It’s a stepping stone to something else,” said Steve Pate, the 49-year-old six-time PGA Tour winner who’s No. 43 this season.

No matter where Pate finishes, he’s pointed toward his birthday next May when he can tee it up with his friends on the 50-and-over Champions Tour.

Not everyone’s got those options.

Jim Herman, who’ll turn 33 on Nov. 5, had his best Nationwide Tour season this year at No. 20 on the money list and his first victory at the Moonah Classic in Australia last February.

Still, he’s got less than a $21,000 lead on Brandt Jobe in 26th and knows a horrible week might shuffle him right off the PGA Tour.

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