Plenty of thrills for little-known FedEx Cup long shot

By Doug FergusonAugust 30, 2011, 6:20 pm

NORTON, Mass. – For a guy who grew up in the South, the happiest times for William McGirt are coming to Boston.

This is where McGirt and his wife, Sarah, decided to spend their honeymoon seven years ago when he was just starting out a career in golf that was going nowhere quickly.

“Just seemed like a cool place that we always wanted to see,” he said.

More surprising is what brings him to New England this week.

One putt made McGirt the last man to get into the playoffs. One putt at The Barclays allowed him to advance, still the ultimate long shot for the $10 million FedEx Cup prize.

Not many knew McGirt before last week. Odds are, not many will remember him at the end of the month when the FedEx Cup reaches the Tour Championship.

But he is more than just the fresh face of these playoffs. Considering his journey - not just the last two weeks but the last seven years - McGirt is a reminder that even the most successful players should realize how good they have it.

“If you can’t enjoy this job, you’re in it for the wrong reasons,” McGirt said.

This is from a 32-year-old PGA Tour rookie who played more mini-tours than he cares to remember; who still thinks it’s a privilege - not a right - to get a courtesy car; and who thought more than once about quitting, promising himself “one more year” until he finally reached the last stage of Q-school two years ago.

He has traveled so much in the minor leagues that he once saw his wife for only eight days during a four-month stretch.

“If something happens and we never get back out here, I wouldn’t kick myself for stuff I could have done,” McGirt said. “I would know we gave it our best, and we had a blast while we were doing it.”

There have been plenty of thrills the last two weeks.

McGirt had missed the cut in 13 of the 25 tournaments he had played, but he had done just well enough in the others that he was on the cusp of getting the 125th and final spot in the playoffs. His car already was packed in Greensboro, N.C. McGirt either was going west toward Knoxville, Tenn., for a Nationwide Tour event, or north toward New Jersey for the $8 million playoff opener at The Barclays.

Long after McGirt had finished his final round, it came down to this: On the 18th hole, Justin Leonard just missed the fairway and wound up missing a 12-foot par putt, a sequence that moved McGirt to No. 125 and sent him to the richest event he had ever played.

Six days later came another close call, only this time it was in his hands.

Hurricane Irene not only cut short The Barclays to 54 holes, it also forced the tournament to remove all electronic scoreboards from Plainfield. Only the top 100 advance to the second playoff event outside Boston. McGirt was not aware that he was projected at No. 101 as he stood in the 17th fairway of the final round.

He was playing with Padraig Harrington, whose wife, Caroline, was walking with Sarah McGirt.

“Caroline told her that she had to tell me where I stood,” McGirt said. “Sarah didn’t know if it would put more pressure on me, but Caroline told her to do it.”

That’s when McGirt’s wife used her fingers to indicate his projected position - one, zero, one - and he understood. With his best swing of the day, he hit a 7-iron to 6 feet for birdie. That put him in a tie for 24th, and he moved to No. 96.

Instead of driving toward home to North Carolina, they headed for Boston.

It was enough time to think about the long road to this point. The couple met at Wofford College in North Carolina. Sarah used to walk by his dorm room every day and see him watching TV, wondering if he ever went to class.

“I took all my classes early and was done at 11:30 a.m. so I could go to the golf course in the afternoon. She didn’t wake up until 11:30,” McGirt said with a laugh.

He said his wife worked for Reebok, overseeing the move to a new distribution center in South Carolina. There were a few tough years, when he was barely making enough to break even and she was putting in long hours as the distribution center was being built. They didn’t see much of each other.

“That’s one reason I almost hung it up,” he said. “She was working 50 or 60 hours a week, and when they started building the center, 70 or 80 hours. She busted her butt for seven years. For two of those years, she was paying all the bills.”

McGirt got to the final stage of Q-school in 2009, which put him on the Nationwide Tour. He tied for third in his first event in Bogota, Colombia, to keep status for the year, and then made it all the way through Q-school last December to earn his card.

Sarah left her job the week before they headed to Hawaii for the Sony Open to start his rookie season.

“We’ve spent more time together this year than we did the first four years we were married,” McGirt said. “It’s the most fun we’ve ever had.”

McGirt has earned about $400,000 this year. And if he isn’t among the top 70 who advance to the third playoff event outside Chicago, he will have to play all of the Fall Series and try to keep his card for next year.

That can wait.

On Tuesday morning, he had new grips put on his clubs, then headed out for a pro-am at the TPC Boston. His amateur partner was former Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk.

“I’m going to hit my first tee shot and then go like this,” McGirt said, skipping and waving his arms to the right, just as Fisk did when he hit the game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

Life has never been better.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Finances


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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