Beaufort's Anderson earns PGA Tour card for 2012

Tie for 29th in Nationwide Tour finale enough to lock up No. 22 on money list

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comOctober 31, 2011 

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CHARLESTON-- Time stood still for Mark Anderson. And he knew to wait.

He at first shoved aside professional golf for a shot at the Walker Cup team. And outside the top 25 on the money list after his inaugural Nationwide Tour season in 2010, he decided to return, ignoring the crushing pressure of PGA Tour Qualifying School in favor of improving his game.

This is what patience rewarded looks like -- a sunny Sunday at Daniel Island Club, Anderson surrounded by family and friends behind the scorer's tent after making eagle on the 72nd hole of the Nationwide Tour Championship to earn his PGA Tour card.

The Beaufort resident finished tied for 29th for the tournament and finished No. 22 on the Nationwide Tour money list, having earned $188,550 this year. He received the card from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem as music shook the walls of the club's ballroom.

"For the next couple days, I'll try to figure out what just happened," Anderson said. "It feels good."

A few weeks ago, this moment wasn't certain.

Anderson missed three consecutive cuts to close September and begin October. But a second-place finish at the Miccosukee Championship the following week marked his best tournament as a professional. And he delivered a second consecutive top-10 the next week.

The turnaround could be attributed to the belly putter Anderson picked up in Miami, a Scotty Cameron model that has helped him convert more short putts. It's one that will stay in the bag, he said, despite trying to trip him Sunday.

Three consecutive three-putts to close the front nine threatened to doom Anderson's chances. But he fought back, with consecutive birdies on No. 14 and 15, an up-and-down for par on No. 16 and then the decisive blow. From his lie in the secondary cut, 219 yards out, Anderson hit a 5-iron within 3 feet. The eagle jolted him to 3 over for the tournament, the number his gallery of supporters had whispered the final few holes as being necessary to earn his card.

Anderson said he didn't have a target.

"I was just trying to make as many putts as possible," he said.

Anderson was told he was safely inside the top 25 but would have to wait to know for certain. After two years, another hour wasn't going to trouble him.

The man born Valentine's Day 25 years ago found love on Maryland's Eastern Shore. At Prospect Bay Country Club, Doug Anderson watched his son hit from the ladies tees, grab his Toys 'R' Us bag with four cut-down clubs and skip down the fairway to his ball.

After moving to Beaufort when he was 10, Mark Anderson played the junior golf circuit and worked with David Britton at Dataw Island Club, where members still greet Britton with "How's Mark doing?" Anderson then latched on at Secession Golf Club. He first earned practice privileges by picking the range and later picked up loops as a caddie during high school.

When Mike Harmon, director of golf at Secession, saw the player Anderson had become, conditions were lifted and Anderson was given free rein. That meant consuming an inordinate amount of chicken fingers, earning him the nickname "Chicken," among those at the club.

Harmon's phone lit up Sunday with folks back home wanting updates. Harmon shared the good news. He compares Anderson's game to Fred Couples, predicting Anderson will play in the Masters within five years.

Anderson's caddie, Lorcan Morris, on the bag the past month after meeting Anderson in a Tennessee parking lot, echoed Harmon's praise.

"I'm working for the best player out here," Morris told Anderson's supporters after his boss's card was secure. "I've known that since the first time I saw him play golf."

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