Anderson's breakthrough win on Tour could be just the start

Beaufort golfer moves up to 9th on money list

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comMay 23, 2013 


Mark Anderson lines up a putt during his victory Sunday in the Tour's BMW Charity Pro Am.

ALEX HICKS JR/ALEX.HICKS@SHJ.COM — Alex C. Hicks Jr. -- Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Mike Harmon knew the day was coming.

The longtime director of golf at Secession Golf Club once played on golf's biggest stage, competed with some of its top names and still plays at a high level. The best comparison he can muster for his club's young tour professional, Mark Anderson, is Fred Couples, who was recently inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame for winning a major and otherwise just being cool. Unflappable on the golf course.

It was only a matter of time before Anderson broke through, Harmon said.

Harmon was working a club championship this past weekend and didn't make it to the Upstate to watch Anderson dominate the field at the Tour's BMW Charity Pro Am en route to his first tour victory. But he saw the familiar gait Sunday on the Golf Channel's tape-delayed broadcast.

"When anybody else is trying to get a win, they're tight, they're fighting their emotions, fighting their adrenaline," Harmon said. "And he's just walking along like he's in the park."

The demeanor helped Anderson survive the end of 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying School, when he failed to retain his card after pressing late, thinking he needed birdie when a par would have worked. The newlywed then missed three cuts his first six starts.

Nothing wrong with the swing, not that Harmon saw. Maybe just mental.

A return trip to the Lowcountry, including tying for medalist honors at his home course to advance to U.S. Open sectional qualifying, might have helped recharge his psyche.

The victory at the BMW relieved some pressure, said Julia Anderson, Mark's mother. She watched her son pull away from the field the final two days at Thornblade in Greer, posting the lowest total in tournament history by five shots and the third-lowest under-par total in Tour history.

He vaulted from 133rd to ninth on the money list, firmly inside the top 25 needed to assure his PGA Tour card, though there are other ways under new rules enacted this year. Two more wins this season would automatically earn him a card, and he could pick up a card by finishing in the top 25 at the Tour finals, a series of three tournaments following the end of the regular season.

"Now he can focus on playing well and not putting quite so much pressure on himself just to make the number," Julia said.

Julia said the work before the local qualifier, combined with a trip to Wade Hampton Golf Club in North Carolina before the tournament helped realign Mark's game.

"I think it was as much mental as it was working out the things he needed to (in his game)," she said.

Harmon promised Mark Anderson he would watch two rounds -- the day he clinched his PGA Tour card, which he did at Daniel Island Club in 2011, and his first round at Augusta National Golf Club in the Masters.

He likened Anderson's performance at the BMW to the 2008 Players Amateur, when Anderson shot a final-round 60 to win by five shots.

"In this game, there are a lot of talented people that don't get to win," Harmon said. "And for him to get to a win is a big step. It's a comfort level that you work to, and it just takes you to the next level."

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