By Michael Curet, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Frank Lickliter, Jay McLuen, David Branshaw and Fran Quinn earned qualifying spots into this week’s Travelers Championship in the Monday qualifier at Connecticut National Golf Club. However, it was two-time PGA TOUR winner Vaughn Taylor (2004 Reno-Tahoe Open; 2005 Reno-Tahoe Open) who grabbed most of the attention with an eagle on the 18th hole for a sizzling 63.
Taylor’s round was the best of the day, but he never needed to sign his scorecard because he learned he was being called up as the first alternate at the Travelers. Taylor promptly withdrew, leaving Lickliter and McLuen to share medalist honors after both shot 3-under 67s.
Lickliter, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR (2001 Kemper Insurance Open; 2003 Chrysler Classic of Tucson), is making his first start on PGA TOUR in 2013. The 43-year-old Lickliter is making his first PGA TOUR start since the Frys.com Open last year and has not had a top 10 on TOUR since finishing second at the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World Resort in 2006.
McLuen, a 32-year-old native of Harvard, Ill., who now resides in Forsyth, Ga., makes his PGA TOUR debut this week and has yet to make a cut in six tries on the Web.com Tour. He and Branshaw shot 68 in the qualifier.
Branshaw, 42, a New York native now living in Tampa, Fla., missed the cut in his only start on the Web.com Tour in April at the Brasil Classic Presented by HSBC and has not played a PGA TOUR event since finishing 86th in the 2007 Children's Miracle Network Classic presented by Wal-Mart. During that same season when he had his PGA TOUR card, Branshaw tied for fifth place at the Viking Classic. His best PGA TOUR finish came at the B.C. Open (T4) in 2006.
Among the biggest surprises in the Monday qualifier was Quinn, a 48-year-old Worchester, Mass., native who owns four Web.com Tour victories and two International wins on the Asian Tour in a professional career that has spanned over 25 years.
A graduate of Northwestern, Quinn returned to the PGA TOUR for the first time since 1992 a year ago at Greenbrier, where he tied for 64th. He was a member of the PGA TOUR in 1992 and 2010.
By Michael Curet, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
Nate Smith and local professional Joey McLister of Charlotte, N.C., each shot 7-under 63 to earn medalist honors at the Monday qualifier for this week’s Wells Fargo Championship.
Vaughn Taylor also earned a spot in the field, shooting 64, while another local professional, Jack Fields, won a six-man playoff after shooting 65 to earn the final spot.
For the 28-year-old McLister, the Wells Fargo Championship marks his second PGA TOUR career start, having missed the cut a year ago at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. In two Web.com Tour events in 2012, McLister made his first professional cut, tying for 44th at the Midwest Classic Presented by Cadillac.
Smith, who qualified for the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock as an amateur, is making his return to a PGA TOUR event for the first time since 2011 when he played 16 events. This year, he's made five starts on the Web.com Tour, where his best finish was a tie for 29th.
Taylor, who won the Reno-Tahoe Open in back-to-back years in 2004 and 2005, is looking to put together the same sort of success at Quail Hollow, where he tied for fifth in 2005 and sixth in 2006. His best finish this season was a tie for 14th in Puerto Rico. He also tied for 21st at Bay Hill.
The last man standing in the Monday qualifier at Charlotte’s Carolina Golf Club was Fields, who will go into his first PGA TOUR start on a course in which he is quite familiar. After playing two years at the University of North Carolina, Fields spent six months as an intern at Quail Hollow. The 22-year-old Southern Pines native dominated the ranks as an amateur in the area, capturing the North Carolina Amateur, the Carolinas Amateur, the Carolinas Open and North and South Amateur.
In 2012, Fields missed the cut in Web.com Tour stops at the United Leasing Championship at Victoria National Golf Club and Chiquita Classic.
European Tour star Jamie Donaldson will make his second consecutive PGA TOUR start this week. (Franklin/Getty Images)
By Michael Curet, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
THE HONDA CLASSIC: Power Rankings | Turf Talk | First Look | LIVE@ returns this week
After early exits in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship last week, European Tour members Alexander Noren and Jamie Donaldson played their way into this week'sThe Honda Classic by qualifying Monday along with two-time PGA TOUR winner Vaughn Taylor and former TOUR member Darron Stiles.
All four golfers fired rounds of 5-under 66 at the Mayacoo Lakes Country Club to earn the Thursday start.
Noren, the 30-year-old Swede who played golf at Oklahoma State University, defeated Dustin Johnson 6 and 4 on Day 1 last week at Dove Mountain before falling in 20 holes to Graeme McDowell.
The Welsh-born Donaldson, who fell in the opening round to Thorbjorn Oleson 3 and 2, started the year strong by holding off Justin Rose last month to win the Abu Dhabi Championship -- the second career win on the European Tour for the 37-year-old.
Veteran PGA TOUR member Taylor, who turns 37 on March 9, qualified into The Honda Classic for the second year in a row -- finishing 18th a year ago in his seventh appearance in the event. The Augusta, Ga. resident won both PGA TOUR titles in back-to-back years at the Reno-Tahoe Open (2004, 2005). He tied for ninth last week at the Web.com Tour's Panama Claro Championship
Stiles, a five-time winner on the Web.com Tour, graduated to the PGA TOUR for the fourth time in his career when he finished 17th on the Web.com Tour money list in 2012. The 39-year-old who now resides in Pinehurst, N.C. made his only cut of the early 2013 season last month at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, where he tied for 56th.
IRVING, Texas – Vaughn Taylor is back on the PGA TOUR this week, playing in the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
He wasn’t in the field at last week’s THE PLAYERS Championship, but nevertheless, it was a productive week, as Taylor caught a 56-pound, 2-ounce striped bass on the Savannah River in Georgia, a record for that species at that river.
“My biggest previous one was 11 pounds, so this was huge for me,” Taylor told the Augusta Chronicle. “I had heard of 20 pounders out there and hoped maybe I’d catch one some day.”
Ed Bettross, the Senior Fisheries Biologist with the Wildlife Resources Division at the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources, did the official weigh-in of the fish and took the above photo.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Harbour Town has always been one of the toughest tests on the PGA TOUR. It showed in spades on Thursday.
With blustery conditions for most of the day, only 23 players broke par on the 7,100-yard par-71 layout and no one went lower than 4 under. Colt Knost joined Chad Campbell and Vaughn Taylor at that number after birdies on two of his final three holes.
Jim Furyk, who won here two years ago, is a shot back after a 68.
“The weatherman was spot on; it was chilly, quite breezy and gusty this morning,” Furyk said. “I’m happy to get in with the score I did. I thought anything at even par or better would be a good round this morning.”
It turned out there weren’t too many scores under par in the afternoon, either.
The temperature rose and the wind lessened as the day wore on, but it again got chilly late in the round.
Firm greens also contributed to high scores.
“The greens are stressed right now,” Furyk said. “They looked dusty [on Wednesday]. I was quite taken aback. It did look like a late Sunday afternoon.”
It played like it, too.
Harbour Town played to an average score of 72.95, nearly a full two strokes under par. The par-3 14th played as the most difficult hole with an average of nearly 3.5.
“It’s very difficult,” said Taylor, who eagled his final hole of the day, the par-4 ninth, by holing out from 100 yards with a sand wedge. Taylor has twice finished fourth here and is in the field on a sponsor exemption. “You’ve just got to kind of grind it out. I fortunately did a good job of that.”
So did John Daly, who finished with a 69.
Others weren’t so fortunate.
Luke Donald struggled with his putting and shot 74.
Should Donald finish outside the top 8 here, he would lose his spot atop the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s tied for 103rd after the first round.
Brian Gay, who was 20 under in his victory here in 2009, also shot 74.
Fred Funk and Sang-Moon Bae failed to break 80, shooting 81 and 83, respectively. Bae later withdrew with a shoulder injury.
By Laury Livsey, PGA TOUR Staff
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico -- When Greg Norman designed the El Camaleon Golf Club in 2005, the World Golf Hall of Famer took advantage of a natural cave on the property and incorporated what the Mexicans call the cenote into his design. In the middle of what plays as the seventh hole during the Mayakoba Golf Classic but is the opening hole for members and guests the rest of the year, the cave comes complete with stalagtites, a pool of water and plenty of iguanas. The cave goes underneath the seventh green, with adventuresome spelunkers -- Norman has been one of them -- emerging on the other side near the eighth green.
Vaughn Taylor made history on the hole Friday when he made the first double eagle in the six-year history of the Mayakoba Golf Classic. More importantly, at least to Taylor, it was his first double eagle and the 108th on the PGA TOUR since the TOUR began tracking them in 1970.
Following a second-round 69 to go with his even-par 71 in the opening round, Taylor is tied for 20th, six strokes behind the trio of leaders.
“I do like [the hole]. With the cave there in the middle of the fairway, it’s kind of a different hole, and reachable par‑5s are always fun,” he said.
This is Taylor’s third time playing in the tournament along the Riviera Maya, and the nine-year pro has taken advantage of the hole. In the 2007 and 2009 tournaments, when it was the event’s opening hole, he recorded four birdies and four pars there. His 5-wood from 263 yards Friday was the best he’s had there, though.
“There’s a ridge behind the hole, so I didn't know if it went in or it went over the ridge. I thought it went in and my caddie thought it went in, though” Taylor added.
Near the green, Taylor’s wife, Leot, and playing partner Michael Thompson’s wife, Rachel, began screaming as the ball rolled in the hole. “It was kind of a delayed scream I guess, and I couldn’t really hear them,” Taylor added.
“And then I bogeyed the next hole, which was kind of a letdown. I wish I had kept the momentum going.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Q-school has plenty of pressure all on its own. Add in winds consistently in the 20-25 mph range -- with gusts as high as 50 -- and scoring has taken on a whole new meaning here in the second round. Case in point: As of this moment, only nine players have recorded rounds in the 60s. Seven more players failed to break 80, including Brendan Pappas, who shot 86 -- currently the highest score in the books Thursday.
As for the leaderboard, there’s still a long way to go here in the second of six rounds at PGA West. Matt Jones, however, was one of those players to break 70, carding a 68 on the Stadium Course to earn a share of the lead at 9 under. Harris English and Will Claxton are also 9 under, but they are still on the golf course.
Some other notable names in the top 25 on the leaderboard: Billy Hurley III, Vaughn Taylor, Jeff Maggert, Dean Wilson, Bob Estes, Troy Merritt, Adam Hadwin and Sam Saunders.