Oh baby! Fast finish earns Mark Anderson a PGA Tour card — and time off

Mark Anderson
Mark Anderson File

Beaufort’s Mark Anderson didn’t have to think long to figure out how to reward himself for earning his way back to the PGA Tour.

Actually, wife Meredith might be the real beneficiary of Anderson’s call to take a week off from the Tour’s playoff series. With their first child due in less than two weeks, any extra time with hubby at home is appreciated.

“She’s extremely happy now that I can be flexible with this baby plan,” said Anderson, whose Sunday charge at the WinCo Foods Portland Open lifted him to a runner-up finish — and one of 25 PGA Tour cards handed out after the regular-season finale.

“Now I can pick and choose what I need to do. It makes it much easier to take that first playoff event off when I’m not fighting to (obtain) my card.”

Anderson is one of two Lowcountry golfers headed to the PGA Tour after finishing among the top 25 in Tour earnings this season. Bluffton’s Richy Werenski officially received his promotion Sunday, though at No. 2 on the money list his had been locked up for several weeks.

Werenski won the BMW Charity Pro-Am back in May, complemented by a trio of runner-up finishes. He will be a PGA Tour rookie when the new season begins in October; Anderson heads back for his third taste of the big stage.

“This one is really fun,” said Anderson, whose last PGA Tour stint in 2014 was shortchanged by a broken ankle. He began this year with minimal Tour entry, but a solid start — three top-20s in his first six events — built enough status to play 17 of a possible 21 events.

“I had to play my way back,” the former Beaufort Academy standout added. “I feel like, on a professional level, it was one of my better years. It’s just a great way to end the year.”

Sunday was especially gratifying, scorching the back nine of Pumpkin Ridge’s Witch Hollow layout in 4-under-par 31 to nearly chase down winner Ryan Brehm. A birdie at the par-5 18th allowed Anderson to finish one shot back and alone in second — yielding enough money to move from 50th to 16th in season earnings.

Had Anderson merely tied for second, he may not have jumped into the top 25.

“I just wanted to try to win,” Anderson said. “There are so many variables. Somebody told me at one point before I birdied 18 (that) I was in. If I was second, tied with two other guys, I wouldn’t be in. I was just focused on chasing down Ryan Brehm.”

Now he can simply worry about the baby for two weeks. Meredith Anderson’s due date is Sept. 10, which would be the Saturday of the Tour Finals opener in Cleveland. They’ve opted to keep some of the mystery, declining to learn the baby’s gender, and are still sorting through possible names.

“It’s going to be great, boy or girl,” Mark Anderson said before boarding his flight home from Oregon. “As far as names, we’re going down that list. We’re whittling it down, but it might not be (selected) until the last second before they let us leave the hospital.”

Jeff Shain: 843-706-8123, @jeffshain