ORLANDO, Fla. – Will MacKenzie drove almost two hours south of Orlando Friday afternoon before he realized that he might have left town a bit too early.
After rounds of 71 and 75 left him at 2 over for the week, MacKenzie felt certain that he would miss the 36-hole cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. So he packed up his bags, hopped in the car and started south down the Florida Turnpike to meet up with his family in Jupiter, about 160 miles southeast of Orlando.
“I just didn’t think there was any way,” MacKenzie said. “I felt like the wind was down, and I felt like I had my chance on the last hole when I missed like a 10-footer for birdie.”
The wind decided to freshen Friday afternoon at Bay Hill, and as a result MacKenzie’s name started to float back up the standings as his car drifted farther south.
“I got down south of Yeehaw Junction, probably 85-100 miles down there. I was checking (the scores) and it went from 77th to 73 and I was like, wow. It’s trending in the right direction,” he said. “Then all of a sudden, my father-in-law goes, ‘Congratulations, I think you’re going to make the cut.’ I looked at it and it said tied for 70th.
“I pulled into this service station, went and ate some Kentucky Fried Chicken and sat in my car for about an hour.”
MacKenzie’s score of 2-over 146 ultimately left him in a tie for 66th, good enough to survive the cut on the number and require a quick U-turn. He sent out a tweet to more than 2,000 followers Friday night, alerting them of his unusual detour.
Drove about 100 miles back towards Jupiter and then did a U Turn cause the cut moved to +2. Man I have this Power of negative thinking down!— Will Mackenzie (@mavandnash) March 21, 2014
Currently 20th in the FedEx Cup points race after a pair of top-10 finishes this month, the 39-year-old’s focus on long-term goals helped him decide to turn around and head back toward Bay Hill.
“I really didn’t want to come back. I knew if I got all the way home, it was going to be tough to leave home and come back,” MacKenzie said. “But hey, it’s FedEx Cup points. I knew I would garner a couple points if I play.”
MacKenzie carded an even-par 72 Saturday, which did little to improve his overall standing. The veteran is happy to have a tee time Sunday though, and happy to have another night at the house of long-time friends, who are members at nearby Isleworth and kept a spot ready for him just in case.
“They told me my room was still waiting if I came back,” he added. “So I came back and they met me with a Corona and Popeye’s. So I had KFC and then I crushed Popeye’s last night. It was awesome.”