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Top 10 or not, McInerney going back to Q-School

A.J. McInerney in Rd. 1 of the Shriners Open.
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LAS VEGAS – A.J. McInerney said on Tuesday that even if he earned a top-10 finish this week in his first PGA Tour start, he would not accept the automatic invitation to next week’s event in Mexico.

After three rounds at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, McInerney may actually have to turn down Mayakoba.

The Vegas native and sponsor’s exemption, who escaped the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1 when a gunman killed 58 people in the worst mass shooting in American history, is now 2 under for the week at TPC Summerlin, one shot out of a tie for 10th.

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Of course, he has a valid reason to skip what would be a second PGA Tour start next week; McInerney is scheduled to play in the second stage of qualifying starting Tuesday at TPC Craig Ranch. And as he said earlier this week, the only thing that would keep him away from Q-School is a win here in Vegas.

“I thought about it, of course,” McInerney said. “A top-10 tomorrow would be awesome. But I’ll still be in Texas on Tuesday – actually, Sunday night.”

McInerney returned to the golf course Saturday morning to finish his second round and clear the 1-over cut by two shots. He then went back out for his third round, braved the winds that are wreaking havoc on this golf course, and fought his way to a 1-under 70.

Through 20 holes Saturday, McInerney was spurred on by local supporters who have encouraged him all week.

“[I’m] just having a blast out here with the local fans,” he said. “Everyone just cheering and having fun in Vegas right now. It’s pretty fun to be part of it.”

Asked what specifically he’s been hearing on his way around the golf course, McInerney repeated the two words that have been emblazoned all over the city.

“Just Vegas Strong,” he answered. “Vegas Strong. A bunch of people saying, ‘Let’s go, A.J., Vegas Strong.’

“It’s really special. I just want to enjoy that and take it one shot at a time and see if I can get some putts to drop [tomorrow].”