Following a fourth-round 66, Will MacKenzie was in position to make a run at regaining his PGA TOUR card for next season. But a pair of 71s to close left MacKenzie four strokes short of finishing in the top 25 on Monday. Making matters worse for MacKenzie is the fact that he finished 152nd on the money list this season.
In other words, MacKenzie will be spending 2011 on the Nationwide Tour.
While MacKenzie put together seven birdies and just one bogey in that fourth round, he was never able to get anything going the last two days, especially Monday when he managed just two birdies, one bogey and 15 pars on what was a difficult day of scoring because of chilly temperatures and high winds.
MacKenzie was hardly the only player to suffer that fate, however. Jeff Quinney, who nearly won THE PLAYERS Championship two years ago, closed with a 74 to tumble out of the top 25 as well after beginning the day in a tie for 16th.
Quinney was ultimately done in by bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16 on the Crooked Cat Course as he finished the round 2 over and at 8 under for the week -- two strokes off the number he needed to be at.
The PGA TOUR card admittedly is the goal. But the lucky 25 and ties also get a little cash to sweeten the holidays.
The medalist earns $50,000 while the runner-up earns $40,000. Third place is worth $35,000, fourth $30,000 and fifth $27,500 while those who finish sixth through 25th earn $25,000 each.
The players who get their Nationwide Tour cards will each receive $5,000.
Jospeh Bramlett just became the first African American in 25 years to successfully make it through the final stage of q-school when he shot a 68 Monday to finish the week at 11 under and well inside the top 25.
“It’s been too long,” said Bramlett, who like Tiger Woods attended Stanford University, where he graduated in just under four years and recovered from two injuries to his right wrist. “To finally end that 25-year drought means the world to me, my family and everyone who’s helped me along the way.”
At one point Monday, Bramlett looked like he might not get his PGA TOUR card after back-to-back bogeys on his second and third holes on the Crooked Cat Course. He bounced back, though with a birdie on the par-5 fourth hole before adding five straight birdies between Nos. 8 and 12. Bramlett added one more birdie on the 17th hole.
“I told myself I had 15 holes to get a PGA TOUR card,” Bramlett said of the early bogeys. “I’ve never had that opportunity before so I just wanted to make the most of it.”
Bramlett certainly did that, and Tiger Woods took notice, saying on his Twitter account: “Congrats to Joe Bramlett for making it through q-school. Amazing feat considering he sat out a whole year with wrist injury. Can't wait to play with him next season.”
It won’t be the first time Bramlett has played with Woods. The two played two practice rounds together at this year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and Woods hosts a collegiate even at Isleworth and has practiced with the Stanford team in the past.
“I’m not going to lie, it feels like a dream,” Bramlett said of getting his card. “It’s hard to even put into words.”
William McGirt posted four top-10s in his first 11 starts on the Nationwide Tour this year. But he appears to be saving his best tournament for last.
The former Wofford standout has just reeled off five straight birdies to soar into a tie with Billy Mayfair at the top of the leaderboard. He’s 18 under with four holes remaining after an adventurous start to his final round that included a birdie, an eagle and three bogeys in his first seven holes.
Kyle Stanley, the kid from Clemson who finished No. 1 on the Nationwide Tour in driving distance, just wrapped up a 68 -- one of the best rounds of the day -- to easily secure his card for 2011.
Stanley had a decent Nationwide Tour season -- he finished 35th on the money list -- but one got the feeling that he had the game to compete on the big tour. He's already made 12 starts on the PGA TOUR since turning pro in 2007.
Billy Horschel, the 2010 PGA TOUR rookie who missed most of the year with a wrist injury, just bogeyed the par-3 15th to drop to 9 under on the week.
It's been a brutal day for Horschel, who has dropped four shots in the last two hours. He will need to birdie the par-5 17th -- unreachable for most players -- to regain his status for 2011.
With the wind continuing to howl at Orange County National, it is starting to look more and more like 10 under will be the number. That number hasn't changed all day.
Richard S. Johnson, a 2008 winner on TOUR, just finished at 10 under with a big smile on his face. With several brutal holes at the close at Crooked Cat, look for scoring to get even tougher as the afternoon continues.
If Alexandre Rocha can get a few more birdies coming home today and earn his PGA TOUR card, he’ll definitely be one of its most well-traveled players.
Rocha, who is from Sao Paolo, Brazil, has filled up four 36-page passports plying his trade around the world. He’s played on the Challenge Tour, the European Tour and most recently the Asian Tour.
Rocha is no stranger to the United States, either. He spoke limited English when he came to Starkville, Miss., to play for Mississippi State. He left as a first-time All-America along with Paul Casey and Luke Donald.
Rocha, who has played golf in more than 80 countries, came close to giving the game up after losing his PGA TOUR card in 2009. The announcement that golf would join the Olympics for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro helped him regain his motivation.
Rocha has played in four PGA TOUR events – making a splash earlier this year with an opening 66 at The Honda Classic. It was his first TOUR event in seven years and the Monday qualifier went on to tie for 59th.
Rocha, who started the final round at Orange County National, is currently tied for 27th. He’s 9 under for the tournament and 3 under for the day with three holes remaining.
If Richard Lee hangs on and gets his TOUR card, he’ll have done it the hard way.
Lee, who is currrently tied for 21th after starting the day sharing 27th, actually had to go through pre-qualifying, as well as all three stages of q-school. He birdied three straight, starting at the eight hole, to move to 10 under for the tournament.
The former University of Washington standout, who is married and has a 2-year-old daughter, won the NCAA West Regional earlier this year.