The number of players with Augusta-area ties on the PGA Tour could take a sharp drop in 1998.
There were five in 1996 (Larry Mize, Hugh Royer III, Franklin Langham, Allen Doyle and Taylor Smith) and four last year after Langham did not retain his playing privileges.
Right now, only one of those players (Mize) has his playing card for the 1998 season. That, however, is subject to change starting this week.
Five area golfers are in the finals of the 108-hole PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, which begins Wednesday and runs through Dec. 8 at the Grenelefe Resort in Haines City, Fla.
The top 35 finishers and ties in the 168-player field in the finals will earn PGA Tour cards for the 1998 season. The next 70 will be exempt for the Nike Tour.
The area golfers in the finals are Royer, Langham, Smith, former Augustan Stiles Mitchell and Aiken's David Seawell, who played on the Nike Tour in 1997.
If you're wondering what happened to Doyle, he didn't make it out of the second stage of qualifying.
Doyle, a former Augustan, lost his card when he finished 189th on the money list in 1997 with just $66,555 in 28 events. The top 125 finishers retain their cards. Doyle turns 50 on June 26 and hopes to play the Senior PGA Tour.
NEW MIDLAND PRO: Steve Foss has started his second tour of duty at Midland Valley Country Club in Graniteville, S.C., this time as the head pro.
For Foss, who earned his PGA of America Class A card in March, this is his second head pro job in less than three months. He worked as Jones Creek Golf Club head pro from Sept. 8 until last Wednesday. He started as head pro at Midland Valley on Friday.
Foss worked as an assistant at Midland Valley from March of 1997 until taking the Jones Creek job.
"I enjoyed it (at Midland Valley) the first time and I didn't want to leave," Foss said. "Jones Creek was an opportunity I couldn't turn down at the time. This job (at Midland Valley) is better for my family. Plus, over there (at Jones Creek), they might have moved me out of the area (to another club). I plan to stay here."
At Midland, the 30-year-old Foss replaces Hank Leffler, whose last day at the club was Nov. 24. Leffler moved to Florida to work in real estate.
"Steve is probably the best young, upcoming professional in the area," said Rusty Flanders, one of the Midland Valley owners. "He's also one of the strongest players, which is another attribute. Based on his previous work here, after Hank left the position open, the membership fully recommended that Steve come back. We had no idea something would open up this quickly, but Hank left on real good terms."
Foss' stops as an assistant pro have been at the Augusta Golf Course (August 1993), Goshen Plantation (March 1994) and then to Midland Valley in March of 1997.
AUGUSTA CC: The team of David Freeman and Bob Remler defeated Steve Howard and Paul Wier in the match play finals of the member-guest. The flight winners were Jeff Wilks-Sam Guagliano (first flight), John Rhodes-Hibbie Barrier (second flight), Barrett Trotter-Walter Anderson (third flight), Clay Mehrhof-Joe Pryor (fourth flight), David Davis-Campbell McCool (fifth flight), Neil Morgan-Mike Carithers (sixth flight), Milton Ruben-Randy Moret (seventh flight), Jack Austin-Jeff Russell (eighth flight) and Gene McManus-Larry Lahatte (ninth flight).
NORTH AUGUSTA CC: Cathy Bushee fired rounds of 80-78- 158 to successfully defend her Ladies Club Championship title.
Holes in one
AUGUSTA CC: Gary Williamson aced the 175-yard sixth hole with a 5-wood shot. Evan Bahr was the witness.
Jim Davis and Hibbie Barrie aced the 14th hole. Barrier's witnesses were John Rhodes and Mel Rhodes. Davis' ace was witnessed by Lyn Allgood.
NORTH AUGUSTA: Rick Thompson aced the 185-yard 14th hole with a 6-iron shot. Joe Long was the witness.
GOSHEN: Steven Merry aced the 170-yard 17th hole with a 6-iron shot. The witnesses were David Cooper, Gary Owen, Jamie Williams and Tony Pressley.
Eagle on par-4
AUGUSTA GOLF COURSE: Vern Hodo eagled the eighth hole. He holed out a wedge shot from 75 yards. The witnesses were Larry Bohannon and the legendary Sam Tweed.
MIDLAND VALLEY CC: Chip Blease scored a double eagle on the par-5, 465-yard second hole. He hit a driver off the tee, then holed out a 4-iron shot from 185 yards. The witnesses were Ben Sorrells, Cliff Henson and Ed Smith.