ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – The McGladrey Classic begins Thursday at idyllic Sea Island Golf Club in southeast Georgia. Here are 5 Things you need to know before the second-to-last official PGA Tour event of 2012 gets under way:
1. FOR THE LOVE: The McGladrey Classic is Davis Love III’s opportunity to play host on the PGA Tour. His duties this week, both on and off the course, give him an opportunity to take a break from reliving his United States team’s collapse at the Ryder Cup.
“I’m still not sleeping well,” Love said. “I still think about things. … You sit there and go, ‘If I’d have just put the pin left on 17 on Sunday rather than right, would have made a difference, you know? And the order of play and the pairings and all that, you can go over and over and over.
“If I could do something over again, it would be more getting guys thinking about how to play singles and where the pins (were located).”
Love is making his third start since the Ryder Cup. He played both the Justin Timberlake event (T-66) and last week’s Frys.com Open (T-35). He is 104th on the PGA Tour money list; this will mark the 27th consecutive year that he’s finished in the top 125.
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2. ON THE DEFENSE: Ben Crane is back to defend the 2011 McGladrey title that he won in dramatic fashion. Like last year, Crane comes in a little banged up. He hasn’t played in more than a month, since a tie for 41st at the BMW Championship. Crane has inflammation around one of the disks in his back. “I just need a couple weeks to relax and it will be fine,” he said.
Crane also was injured when he played this event last year, thinking he had a torn labrum in his left hip. “I was five minutes away from withdrawing,” he said. Good thing he didn’t, because he birdied four of his final five holes to shoot 30 on the back nine Sunday before beating Webb Simpson in a playoff.
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3. ON A WINNING NOTE: Jonas Blixt arrives at Sea Island after Sunday’s victory at the Frys.com Open in California. The win moved the rookie to No. 35 on the money list; the top 30 at season’s end earn invitations to the Masters. Blixt has earned $2,199,401 thanks to five top 10s. He finished third at the Byron Nelson and in Las Vegas the week before the Frys.com Open.
“It’s not going to be the easiest thing to do,” Blixt said of finding a spot inside the top 30, “but whenever you get a chance, you gotta try to take it.”
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4. MONEY ON THEIR MINDS: The McGladrey Classic is the second-to-last official event of the PGA Tour season, meaning many players are focused on the money list. The top 125 after the Children’s Miracle Network Classic retain full playing privileges for the 2013 season.
Billy Mayfair is 125th on the money list with $612,361. He’s followed by Kevin Chappell, Gary Christian, Alexandre Rocha, Gary Woodland and Chez Reavie. Only Woodland has fully-exempt status locked up for 2013.
Charlie Beljan, who finished third at the Greenbrier Classic, holds down the No. 150 position on the money list, the final spot to earn conditional PGA Tour status for 2013. Beljan, who earned $353,800 at Greenbrier, has earned less than $100,000 in his other 19 starts this season.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Hunter Hamrick, who turned pro after this year’s NCAA Championship, shot 62 to Monday qualify for the McGladrey Classic. It was his second successful Monday qualifying attempt in three weeks. He finished 70th at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital. Hamrick also made the cut at this year’s U.S. Open (T-46) and True South Classic (T-10). His $115,979 in earnings would rank him 204th on the money list. Finishing in the top 200 would earn him Web.com Tour status for 2013. He’s exempt into Q-School’s second stage for making the U.S. Open cut. … This is the third McGladrey Classic. Heath Slocum won the 2010 event. He is 140th on this year’s money list, and in danger of losing his fully-exempt status if he can’t crack the top 125.