Magic Wand Denies Tiger; McGirt Does It
All I want for Christmas is Graeme McDowell’s putting stroke. Hey, I’ve got a little Irish in my blood, so why can’t I make every 20-foot putt I stand over?
Look, I even paint little shamrocks on my golf balls. If you’ve played any golf course in the Sandhills over the past 20 years, you’ve probably found one of those balls. I’m a lot better at losing them than I am at finding them.
Seriously, folks, did you really think McDowell was going to make that birdie putt on the final hole against Tiger Woods last week? Did you ever dream he’d pull a repeat on the first playoff hole?
And, if you want to get really psychic, how many of you thought he’d be able to get up and down on the 17th hole after taking an unplayable lie?
What I’m thinking here is that Tiger has lost his mojo. Now that’s something I can really relate to. I lost my mojo about 10 years ago and not even a search warrant helps.
There was a time when it would have been Tiger making those unthinkable putts. But those days are history, at least for now. Maybe there really is something to this bad karma stuff.
Still, you have to hand it to Tiger. He was back to doing some of the things that made him the best golfer in the world. He had this tournament in the bag … until McDowell pulled out the magic wand.
One thing you can be sure of, the PGA Tour and the television networks are feeling a lot better right now about the 2011 season than they were a couple of weeks ago. Without Tiger, golf can get pretty boring very quickly. If he’s able to get his mojo back, the world will return to normal.
On a personal note, I’m tickled pink that William McGirt, of Fairmont, has earned his PGA Tour card. I’ve known McGirt since he was in high school and it’s been a long, trying journey for him to make it to the Big Show.
Now 31, he’s playing the best golf of his life. He grew up playing Flag Tree in Fairmont and PineCrest in Lumberton and everyone saw the potential. But having potential and being able to earn your playing card are two very different things.
McGirt played the eGolf Tour for several years, then did well enough in the PGA Qualifying School to earn status on the Nationwide Tour last year.
Instead of being overwhelmed, he went out and made a name for himself, finishing in 34th place on the money list and earning a pass into the Q-school finals. There, he put together six rounds good enough to finish in a tie for second place behind Tour veteran Billy Mayfair. He has to be bursting with confidence as he readies for the 2011 season.
I got a firsthand look at McGirt’s talents several years ago when I played in a two-man captain’s choice event at Flag Tree and my recently departed buddy, Dennis Russell and I, were paired with McGirt and another young golfer.
It was a shotgun start and we started play on the par-5 18th hole. McGirt and his partner reached the green in two shots and rolled the putt in for an eagle.
Our second hole was a par-4 and McGirt, who had graduated from high school only a few weeks earlier, proceeded to hole out his 9-iron second shot from the fairway for another eagle.
Yeah, you might say that Dennis and I were just a little intimidated.
Unfortunately, Andy Bare, the West End native who has tried to earn his PGA Tour card several times, came up short again. Bare got off to a great start with a 68, but followed that with a 77 and was unable to recover.
He finished in a tie for 107th and earned limited status on the Nationwide Tour, however.
If there’s a tougher test in golf than the 108-hole Q-school, I don’t know what it is. Anyone who makes it through that purgatory deserves to make it on Tour.
A lot don’t make it, but here’s hoping William McGirt gets it done.
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