LOCAL GOLF NOTES

Martin eyes return to PGA

bspear@thestate.comJune 15, 2013 

With “Q” School a thing of the past, the path to the PGA Tour leads through the Web.com Tour. And the competition is anything but easy.

“It’s a great place to grow, get better and prepare, but it’s very challenging,” Ben Martin said. “The caliber of play is extremely high.”

Martin, in his third professional year after an All-America career at Clemson and a runner-up finish in the U.S. Amateur, missed the cut in the Wichita tourney that ends today and that means a drop on the earnings list. Still, he will be near the magic number — 25th — that guarantees a PGA Tour berth next year.

“I’ve been pretty pleased with the first half of the season, and I’m looking to finish stronger,” he said. “This being my second year on the Web.com Tour, it’s easier in terms of knowing the courses, the cities and such. The routine is easier, and I’m more confident.”

Comparing his 2012 season with 2013 shows a steady upward trend, and he moved to No. 23 in earnings before taking two weeks off. He slipped to 28th before Wichita.

“Obviously, in the top 25 is the place to be at the end of the year,” Martin said. “That locks you in on the 2014 PGA Tour.”

Martin, who grew up in Greenwood and now lives in Greenville, made the PGA Tour through qualifying school his first year out of college and, he said, “That’s a tough adjustment. There’s so much to learn and I didn’t play as well as I would have liked. I will be more prepared the next time.”

Father of the year

Jackie Seawell of Aiken, a member of the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame, has been named Golfweek’s father of the year and is being honored this weekend in Orlando.

Seawell and sons David, Daniel and Jay all played for USC. David earned All-America honors and played on the PGA Tour for one year and Nike Tour for three. Jay is the golf coach at Alabama, and his team won the recent NCAA championship. He also coached the U.S. team in the Palmer Cup. Daniel, a club pro, joined his father in purchasing Houndslake County Club in Aiken.

Chip shots

In prime position to move from the Web.com to the 2014 PGA Tour are Kevin Kisner (Aiken, seventh in earnings) and Mark Anderson (Beaufort/USC, ninth in earnings). ... Justin Dreher, a rising junior at USC, won two matches before being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship in Wales. ... Austin Ernst (Seneca) and Kristy McPherson (Conway) earned berths in the U.S. Women’s Open in sectional qualifying in Atlanta. ... In the Jimmy Self Junior tourney in Greenwood, Bryson Nimmer (Bluffton) won the boys’ title in a playoff over Drake Cassiday (Hartsville), and Reona Hirai (Summerville) claimed the girls’ crown. ... Will Woodard and Brad Thorne won the SCGA Four-Ball title with a 2 and 1 triumph over Chris Mitchell and Matt Laydon. ... Former Clemson two-sport athlete (soccer and football) Mark Buchholz has qualified for the U.S. Public Links Golf Tournament. ... The final open qualifying round for the Midlands Chevy Dealers Columbia championship will be July 6 at Spring Valley. Go to fairwayoutreach.org for an entry blank.

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