LOCAL GOLF NOTES: Next stop crucial for status of players

08/03/2014 12:09 AM

03/14/2015 9:14 AM

Barring a victory Sunday in the PGA Tour tourney in Reno, the Wyndham Championship will be the year’s most important for South Carolina golfers scrambling to secure fully exempt status for the 2014-15 season.

Veterans Jonathan Byrd (Columbia/Clemson), Tommy Gainey (Hartsville), Matt Bettencourt (Duncan) and Justin Bolli (Simpsonville) will be down to their final opportunity Aug. 14-17 in Greensboro to qualify for the FedEx playoffs, and a high finish is a must to avoid battling through the qualifying process for next year.

The state’s other players in golf’s major league are “in,” either through FedEx points – the top 125 qualify – or exemptions for winning tournaments. That group can bolster their status in the PGA Championship this week and in the Wyndham, should they decide to play the week prior to opening playoff event.

Although taking a leave of absence, Dustin Johnson (Columbia/Coastal Carolina) remains the state’s best player. He is fourth in FedEx points and third in earnings for the year. Bill Haas (Greenville) is 37th in points and Russell Henley (Charleston) is 45th with a tournament win.

Others “in” with points: Scott Brown (Aiken/USC Aiken) 49th, Ben Martin (Greenville/Clemson) 52nd, William McGirt (Boiling Springs/Wofford) 85th and Kevin Kisner (Aiken) 95th. Although far behind in points, Kyle Stanley (Clemson) and Lucas Glover (Greenville/Clemson) are exempt in 2014-15 for tournament wins.

Mark Anderson (Beaufort/USC), who has not played since May, has been injured and could qualify for a medical exemption. Due to limited status, Brett Quigley (USC) has played in one tournament.

Going into the Reno tourney, Byrd stood at 152, Gainey at 155, Bettencourt at 208 and Bolli at 255 with the Windham to play. The winner receives 500 points, second is worth 300, third 190, fourth 135 and fifth 110.

If they fall short, they will have an opportunity to qualify through the tournament playoff system that features the top 75 players from the Web.com tour money list and players 126-200 from the PGA Tour.

A higher finish improves a player’s status. Bettencourt, Quigley, Anderson and Bolli have been victims of the system that determines entry into tournaments and they received fewer opportunities to compete. Anderson played in eight events before his injury. Reno is Bettencourt’s 13th and Bolli’s fifth. On the other hand, Johnson has played in 17 and the others more than 20.

Chip shots Lauren Stephenson (Lexington), Mary Chandler Bryan (Chapin) and Natalie Srinivasan (Spartanburg) will be among the competitors in the U.S. Women’s Amateur this week in Glen Cove, N.Y. ...

CC of Lexington general manager Clem King qualified for the PGA of America’s Senior Professional National Championship by sharing fourth in the CPGA Senior Championship. Jim Wise (Columbia) tied for first in the 59 and older competition. ...

Kelli Murphy (Elgin) and Reona Hirai (Summerville) went undefeated in helping the Carolinas post a 9½-2½ victory over a squad from Virginia and Maryland in the Mid-Atlantic junior girls’ team matches in Laurel Fork, Va. ...

South Carolina junior champion Jack Parrott (Columbia) defeated Georgia junior champ Charles Huntzinger (Duluth, Ga.) in the final match, leaving the 39th Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Matches tied 8-8 at Roswell, Ga. ...

Man O’War GC in Myrtle Beach will be one of 120 courses participating in the World’s Largest Golf Outing, a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. The event is Aug. 11 with a goal of raising $1 million. See worldslargestgolfouting.com for information and to register. ...

Registration for the Richland Golf Invitational Sept. 10-11 at Cobblestone Park GC ends Aug. 11. Call Ricky Saucier at (888) 501-0954 for details. ...

Will Murphy (Columbia/USC), who has won twice on the amateur tour this year, finished 18th in the Porter Cup. But he and two other state players, Todd White (Hilton Head) and Matt NeSmith (North Augusta/USC), missed the cut in the Western Amateur.

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