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August 19 2011

5:27 PM

MacKenzie takes advantage of spot

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- First, Will MacKenzie needed a sponsor's exemption to get into the Wyndham Championship. Then he needed a caddy.

So MacKenzie's agent suggested Frank Williams, Stewart Cink's long-time looper. Cink was taking a break before the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup so Williams, a Greensboro native, got a rare trip home.

"Frank is going to hook me up here, try to get me through to play well and then I'll go back to whoever will loop for me after that," MacKenzie said. "But I'm excited. I'm hitting it well, playing well enough to keep shooting low scores. That's what I got to do.

"You got to keep the pedal to the metal out here obviously.  You got to hit it in the fairway off the tee.  You can get a few lucky breaks in the rough but I've been hitting it in the fairway for the most part and that's key."

The two have been a good team so far. MacKenzie's had an adventurous two days -- making seven birdies, six bogeys and three eagles to move to 7 under and five strokes off the lead. Two of the eagles came on Friday as he shot a 65 despite making bogeys on his first two holes.

"It's kind of keeping me in it," MacKenzie said. "I'm making some mistakes. ... 7:10 tee time starting on the back, I don't want to make excuses but it's a little tougher the first two, three holes, really difficult.
   
"I, of course, did exactly what I didn't want to do, got off to a bad start … but then, you know, there's so many chances out here so I played pretty well. Eagles help."

MacKenzie, a native of Greenville, N.C., has only played in 11 PGA TOUR events this year and made the cut in eight. He's a past champion but is no longer fully exempt -- and his best finish, and only top-10, actually came when he tied for fourth at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, one of his six starts on the Nationwide Tour.

"It's been -- not a great year but I've been striking it well, making cuts," MacKenzie said. "I just got to shoot a good weekend score. I need to shoot a good weekend score. And all I know, I got to play well coming into the fall whether I'm playing here or wherever."

MacKenzie currently ranks 212th on the PGA TOUR money list so he knows he needs a "humongous week" to get his card back. "I can't be in that Top 25 guy and string it together," MacKenzie said.

"I've only got here and maybe another event if I'm lucky so I'm going to have to win or come in second, and then I plan on going Nationwide (Tour) for the rest of the year."

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