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.
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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.