Sandy • The $37,153 check that Zac Blair collected in the U.S. Open was nice. The $18,195 he earned in the Nova Scotia Open may have changed his life.
The former Fremont High School and BYU golfer’s 2014 worldwide schedule became more much intriguing after last weekend, when he tied for seventh place in a Web.com Tour event. During that 36-hole Sunday finish in the hurricane-interrupted tournament, Blair played his way into the mix for a potential PGA Tour card in 2014-15.
Technically, the money he made for a top-40 finish in the U.S. Open did not advance his career. Yet there’s no doubt the experience of playing at that level propelled him, carrying over into the Nova Scotia Open.
“It definitely helped my confidence, for sure, knowing that I can compete in that type of field,” Blair said Tuesday, upon arriving at Willow Creek Country to prepare for this week’s Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank.
“It really made him feel like he could belong out there,” said his father, Jimmy. “Not that he does right now, but he could.”
Now, it gets interesting. With limited status on the Web.com Tour, Blair was thrilled when some late withdrawals enabled him to get into the field in Nova Scotia. Otherwise, he would have played in a PGA Tour Canada event. By going from Saskatoon to Halifax and producing a 67-70 finish, Blair landed at 125th on the Web.com Tour money list in his first start — ahead of many golfers who have played a full schedule.
“Hopefully, I can turn it into a good rest of the year,” he said.
Blair’s fallback position is PGA Tour Latinoamerica. He’s intending to play in Ecuador in September when the tour’s split-season schedule resumes, in his effort to qualify for the Web.com Tour in 2015. Last weekend’s performance may eventually alter his plans, in a good way.
With seven tournaments left in the regular season, the 23-year-old Blair is hoping to make the top 75 on the money list and earn a spot in the four-event Web.com Tour finals.
If he plays well at Willow Creek and in next week’s tour stop in Boise, Blair likely would have access to the rest of the schedule via a reshuffling of players’ statuses. And that could lead to PGA Tour membership in October.
No wonder he labels recent developments “a good complication.”
While Blair was spending a long day traveling to Utah from Nova Scotia, another ex-BYU golfer made the Utah Championship field via open qualifying Monday. Clay Ogden’s birdie-birdie-eagle finish gave him an 8-under-par 64 at Glen Eagle Golf Course, good for one of 12 spots in the tournament.
The story almost got even better, but Jimmy Blair’s 67 left him two strokes below the cut. So he’ll settle for being in the gallery this week as his son makes his first professional appearance in Utah.
“It’s nice to be on a course that you’re familiar with and see familiar faces,” said Zac Blair, who played at Willow Creek last July as an amateur.
Missing the 36-hole cut did not hurt him then. Much more is at stake for him this week.
Web.com Utah Championship
P At Willow Creek Country Club
TV • Golf Channel