Local golf notes

South Carolina golfers need push to FedEx qualifying

bspear@thestate.comApril 19, 2014 

The race to the FedEx Cup, the PGA Tour’s season-long championship, began in earnest at the RBC Heritage, and most of the golfers with South Carolina ties have work to do to qualify for the lucrative playoffs.

The top 125 in FedEx points advance. Four member of the state contingent are safely in with 18 tournaments remaining after the Heritage. Two others are in a solid position, and the remaining nine need good finishes to get back in the race.

Dustin Johnson (Columbia/Coastal Carolina), with a win and five top-six finishes in eight tournaments, ranks fourth. Russell Henley (Daniel Island), who won the Honda, stands 21st; Bill Haas (Greenville) is 28th; and Scott Brown (Aiken/USC Aiken) is 53rd.

William McGirt (Boiling Springs/Wofford) looks solid at No. 89, and Ben Martin (Greenville/Clemson) got off to an outstanding Heritage start with an eye on bettering his 113th place.

Of the others, Jonathan Byrd (Columbia/Clemson) recently reached his major medical exemption goal and has played solid if not spectacularly most of the year. He is 140th. Following are Kevin Kisner (Aiken) at 153, Kyle Stanley (Clemson) at 154, Lucas Glover (Greenville/Clemson) at 159, Tommy Gainey (Hartsville) at 180, Matt Bettencourt (Duncan) at 230, and Brett Quigley (USC) at 241.

Mark Anderson (Beaufort/USC) and Justin Bolli (Simpsonville) have earned no FedEx Cup points.

Bettencourt, Quigley, Anderson and Bolli are victims of the system that determines entry into tournaments. Their limited status has kept them mostly on the sidelines this season. Heading into the Heritage, they had played in a combined total of 13 events, but their opportunities likely will increase after the U.S. Open in June.

The good news for those with ground to make up: one outstanding finish can turn a season around. For example, Martin shared third place in the Heritage when rain forced suspension of the second round Friday. Should he finish in that position, he would vault 39 spots.

The top 125 after the Wyndham tourney in Greensboro, N.C., qualify for the Barclays in mid-August with the top 100 advancing to the Deutsche Bank Championship and the top 70 to the BMW. The top 30 make the Tour Championship field.

Covington Invite tees off Monday

Jane Covington’s name is synonymous with excellence in women’s golf, and once more the two will be in the spotlight Monday at Orangeburg Country Club for the Jane Covington Invitational, the largest fundraiser for the Women’s South Carolina Golf Association’s Junior Foundation.

Covington, 92, will yield her traditional role of hitting the tournament’s first shot to those who benefit most from the event – junior golfers. Four who have received assistance from the Foundation – Reona Hirai (Summerville), Sydney Legacy (Lexington), Miracle Howard (Aiken), and Jocelyn McGill (Ladson) – will compete as a foursome and will handle the ceremonial first shots.

Covington, who helped start the WSCGA in 1948, won five state championships and has been inducted into both the Carolinas and the South Carolina golf halls of fame.

The WSCGA Junior Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks is to promote junior golf by providing golf scholarships, playing and teaching the game, and promoting amateur golf.

Chip shots

Ten tournament winners from this season have committed to play in the Wells Fargo Championship May 1-4 in Charlotte. ...

The team of Walter Odiorne (Columbia) and Mike Gravley (Greer) tied for second in the CGA’s Carolinas Senior Four-Ball tourney in Davidson, N.C. ...

Volunteer opportunities remain for the PGA of America’s Professional National Championship June 22-25 at Myrtle Beach. Contact David Kullenberg at pncvolunteers@gmail.com.

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