CHAMPIONS
Champions Update: Past Walker Cup Player Mackenzie Earns Web.com Card December 12, 2016 | Far Hills, N.J. By David Shefter, USGA

Brock Mackenzie, seen here competing in 2016 U.S. Open sectional qualifying, earned his 2017 Web.com Tour card on Sunday in Florida. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Later this week in California, 16 USA Walker Cup Team hopefuls will gather for an informal practice session at The Los Angeles Country Club for a chance to make an early impression on captain John “Spider” Miller and the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee for September’s Match at LACC.

Last week in Florida, four past Walker Cup competitors, along with one USGA champion, gathered at Orange County National in Winter Garden with the hope of earning Web.com Tour status for the 2017 season.

Brock Mackenzie, a member of the 2003 USA Team that lost at Ganton Golf Club in England, was the only player to earn full-time status, finishing tied for fourth at 12-under 274 in the 72-hole competition contested on the Crooked Cat and Panther Lake courses.

Competitors who finished second through 10th and ties for 10th are exempt through the third money-list reshuffle of the season. Those who finished 11th through 45th (and ties) are exempt through the year’s second reshuffle. The remaining golfers from the field of 155 have conditional status.

Mackenzie, a former University of Washington standout, finished second in the Order of Merit on the PGA Tour Canada this past season, including a victory and nine top-25 finishes.

Casey Wittenberg, who competed with Mackenzie on the 2003 Walker Cup Team and was a runner-up in that year’s U.S. Amateur at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, missed becoming fully exempt by one stroke. The 2012 Web.com Tour Player of the Year fired a pair of 70s on the weekend to finish at 2-under 284.

Brad Elder (1997) and Drew Weaver (2009) were the other two past Walker Cup players to finish outside the top 45 and ties. Australian Nick Flanagan, who defeated Wittenberg in the 2003 U.S. Amateur championship match at Oakmont, tied for 131st.

Back on Top

The last time David Duval won a golf tournament, Tiger Woods had achieved the “Tiger Slam” and Barack Obama was a U.S. Senator from Illinois. It was July 2001 when Duval hoisted the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham & St Annes and later that year he won the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan.

Duval, the 1989 U.S. Junior Amateur champion and 2009 U.S. Open runner-up, teamed with his stepson, Nick Karavites, to win the PNC Father/Son Challenge at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla. The duo backed up an opening-round 61 with a 10-under 62 on Sunday to win by one stroke over three other teams, two of which featured USGA champions.

“It’s wonderful [to win again],” said the 45-year-old Duval. “Wonderful to have the feelings, the nerves of really paying attention to what you’re doing, executing the golf shots and picking your lines.”

Over the past few years, Duval has fought a variety of physical issues, and lately he has spent more time talking than playing as an analyst for Golf Channel. He withdrew from the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon due to injury. Four months earlier, the former World No. 1 golfer underwent wrist and elbow surgery.

Duval currently has no status on any tour, although he did compete in the Sanderson Farms Championship on the PGA Tour in October, missing the cut.

Fred Funk, the 2009 U.S. Senior Open champion, and his son, Taylor, shared second at 20-under 124 with two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (2001 and 2004) and his son, Leo; and Stewart Cink and his son, Connor.

Raymond Floyd, the 1986 U.S. Open champion, and son, Robert, finished fifth along with 2010 U.S. Senior Open champion Bernhard Langer and his daughter, Christina.

Other USGA champions in the field included eight-time USGA champion Jack Nicklaus; five-time USGA champion Hale Irwin; three-time USGA champion Lee Trevino; two-time U.S. Open champions Lee Janzen and Curtis Strange; 1983 U.S. Open champion Larry Nelson; and U.S. Amateur champions Lanny Wadkins (1970) and Mark O’Meara (1979).

Kuchar Reclaims Franklin Templeton Shootout Crown

Three years after teaming up to win the Franklin Templeton Shootout, 1997 U.S. Amateur champion Matt Kuchar and 2011 USA Walker Cup competitor Harris English hoisted the trophy again by holding off Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly by one stroke in the 54-hole competition at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla.

English eagled the par-5 17th hole on Saturday in the best-ball format as the team closed with a 7-under 65.

“It’s a thrilling event to come out with a win, amazing feeling,” said Kuchar, who competed in the 1999 Walker Cup Match. “I think it’s just such a fun partnership we’ve had. We’ve had such a good run. To have our last four events together, to have our track record be first-second-second-first is quite amazing.”

The event features a two-man scramble in the first round and a modified alternate-shot format for Round 2 on Friday.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.