Williamson advances to PGA Tour’s national qualifying school
By Michael Wetzel
Tyler Williamson shot a 1-over 73 Saturday, and that’s just fine with him.
The Decatur golfer finished in a tie for 17th in the PGA Tour’s second-stage qualifying event in Panama City Beach, Fla. His finish earned him a spot in the PGA’s national qualifying tournament in two weeks.
Meanwhile, Athens High grad Andrew Medley shot four shots better than Williamson on Saturday, but saw his first try at his PGA Tour card come to an end.
Williamson double-bogeyed the final hole and said he was fortunate to advance.
“I knew I was on the bubble,” said Williamson, a former winner on the Nationwide Tour. “My heart was about to pound out of my chest. On the 18th, I hit my tee ball left into the trees and had to chip out just to give myself a chance at the green. It was a long walk up the 18th. I really thought I might have blown it.”
He opened with a 4-under 67 before sliding to 44th after a second-round 80 Thursday, Williamson said he knew he had to get back around par to have a chance. On Friday, he shot 69. His 5-over 289 total on the Hombre course was the cut line. The top 20 and ties advanced.
“I played well all week, even when I shot that 80,” he said. “I had a couple of bad swings on two bad holes, two doubles, but I felt like I hit it solid all week.”
Williamson said the final round of the second stage “might be the hardest round of golf you’ll ever play.”
Williamson said he will return home to enjoy Thanksgiving with his family and practice his drives and long irons on his home course at the Burningtree Country Club. Then he will head to Winter Garden, Fla., for the six-round national Q-school Nov. 28-Dec. 3. It will be his fourth trip to the PGA Q-school finals, he said.
“I’m not going to nationals to qualify for the Nationwide again,” said Williamson, 35. “If I’m not making the PGA Tour, I might look at doing something else. I’ve been chasing that card, and my family is set for me to play on the PGA.”
Former Crimson Tide golfer Spike McRoy of Huntsville will join Williamson at the nationals.
McRoy finished 13th with a final-round 71. At nationals, the top 30 golfers and ties will earn their PGA Tour cards.
The next 70 will receive playing privileges on the Nationwide Tour.
Playing in Kingwood, Texas, Medley gave himself a chance at making the nationals with a final-round 69, but he needed a 66 to advance.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed I’m not moving on,” said Medley, 23, who finished his collegiate career at Auburn in June. “But I believe for the start of my professional career, I’m headed in the right direction. Making the second stage was big. There are plenty of great golfers out here.”
Medley said he couldn’t point to a specific hole or round during the 72-hole event that hurt him. His four-day total was 1-over 289, tied for 31st.
“I just left too many shots out there,” he said. “I made some putts down the stretch. But I also had some three-putts in the week. I just wished I had shot better the first two days. But once you get to this level, it’s more than just the physical part of the game — it’s the mental, too. Every shot counts.”
In the four-day event, Medley recorded four birdies on the 521-yard, par-5, 15th hole at the Woodlands Golf Club. On Saturday, Medley had four birdies and one bogey.
Medley said he plans to continue living in Auburn to hone his game and prepare for the 2008 NGA/Hooters Tour. His win in the Michelob Open in September gave him full-exempt status on the tour. He said he plans to try some Monday qualifying events to get into some Nationwide Tour tournaments.
Other notables missing the cut on the Woodlands course were PGA veterans Mark Brooks, Neal Lancaster, Glen Day, Len Mattiace, Joel Edwards, Clark Dennis and Mac O’Grady.
Former Auburn golfer Jason Buha of Auburn and former Troy State All-American Ben Bates also failed to advance.
“This past month has been a grind in the qualifiers,” Medley said. “I learned a lot, and I now know I can play with these guys.”
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