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October 21 2010

8:51 PM

MacKenzie: One eye on q-school

Will MacKenzie began the day struggling to find his game on the range. He ended it with an early share at TPC Summerlin.

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The North Carolinian is trying to avoid q-school after entering the week ranked 146th on the money list. MacKenzie's exemption for winning the 2008 Viking Classic runs out at the end of this year, and he knows he is under the gun.

"A tie for 40th don't do anything for me at all. I got to have a big finish," MacKenzie said. "I got to have two good finishes or either one fantastic one.

"So, you know, I'm going to try to just make as many birdies as possible. If I have to go to q-school, I'll go to q-school."

Win or lose, MacKenzie appears to be in good shape to at least finish in the 126 to 150 category, which would ensure around 20 starts in 2011. And he's determined to avoid another slow start like he had this year, when he put himself in an early hole by missing his first two cuts.

"No matter what, next year I'm going to start off stronger," MacKenzie said. "I'm getting tired of coming down to the wire and having to play real well."

The good news: MacKenzie has usually played well in the fall. He tied for sixth last week -- his first top-10 of the year -- and his 64 on Thursday likely means he will avoid missing the cut, something that happened here last year. The bad news: He opened with a 65 at TPC Summerlin in 2008, then shot 72-72 and was cut after 54 holes.

"Guys are going to shoot so low out here. Any day you can get it going, keep it going out here, you need to because you're going to have a day you're going to shoot even to 2 under, even if you're playing well," MacKenzie said.

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