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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Well, He Won the Qualifier...

Maybe Billy Mayfair hasn't won since 1998. He's still the only person to beat Tiger Woods in a playoff, which he did in the Nissan Open that year. True, Tiger wasn't yet "Tiger," if you know what I mean, but it's still something.

Oh yeah, he did win the Monday Qualifier this week that got him into the Quail Hollow Championship. And he appears to have beaten cancer -- not a bad victory to have, by any means. But not the guy you'd expect to be leading a pack of long hitters, is he?

Billy loops everything from his full swing to his putting stroke. While loopy full swings aren't that unusual (just look at Jim Furyk), loopy putting strokes are another matter entirely. It's hard to be consistent with it, but he's putted that way since he was a kid. He won five tournaments with it (including a Tour Championship), and it might not have become such a big deal if Tiger and the whole "bomb-and-gouge" game hadn't become the big thing. Inconsistent putting just doesn't cut it anymore.

Still, it's a good reminder that length isn't everything. Billy is tied for 1st in birdies this week by just picking his way around the course. He says the difference is his putting... but his stats at PGATour.com show him as T2 in driving accuracy at 63.4% (not all that great, really) with a 289-yard average drive. He's also hitting 72.2% GIR... and T2 in putting when he hits those greens. That's a good sign for Billy.

Can he win it? Sure. Will he? I don't know; it's been a long time since he's been in this position. But with 16 players within 5 shots of the lead, Sunday is shaping up to be another great tournament in one of the best years we've seen in a while.

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