Phillips earns spot in 2024 PGA Championship with tie for eighth in Frisco

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By Ken MacLeod

FRISCO, Texas (May 1, 2024) ー Tracy Phillips was once one of the best juniors in the country. Now he is seemingly one of the best seniors. And about to find out how he stacks up against the best golfers in the world.

With his tie for eighth in the PGA Professional Championship at Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco, the 61-year-old Phillips earned a berth in the 2024 PGA Championship to be held May 13-19 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.

It will be the first PGA Championship berth for Phillips, who has competed in seven PGA Professional Championships since resuming his competitive career after decades as strictly a teacher. He seemingly had a berth locked up two years ago in trying to qualify for the 2022 PGA Championship in Tulsa but two late disasters knocked him out of the top 20. Two weeks after playing in the PGA Championship, he is also exempt for the 2024 Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores, Mich.

“It’s exciting,” Phillips said after grinding out rounds of 72-70-75-75 to finish at 4-over and well inside the top 20. “I better get ready to take off a lot of head covers. I’m sure it’s going to be long and tough.”

As far as likely being one of the oldest golfers in the field, Phillips said he always tells his students that the golf ball doesn’t know how old you are.

Tracy Phillips during the final round of the PGA Professional Championship at PGA Frisco on Wednesday, May 1, 2024 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ryan Lochhead/PGA of America)

Phillips went into the week with fairly low expectations after finishing last among those to make the cut in the 2023 Senior PGA Championship on the Gil Hanse-designed East Course at Fields Ranch, which is where three of the four rounds this week were held. He putted poorly and shot 83 in the third round. But he said he had a much better grasp of the greens this week despite drawing the short end of the weather stick.

He gutted out an even-par 72 on the first day on the more difficult East Course in high winds. He only played four holes the second day due to weather delays and finished a 2-under 70 on the West Course Tuesday, then played 16 holes of his third round on the East. He was 5-over when darkness fell, but birdied the 17th hole Wednesday morning, putting him in a good frame of mind for his final round, which again was held in high winds.

“The two 75s were pretty good scores considering the conditions,” Phillips said. “I drove it well and hit some key putts to keep my rounds going. I started to get a better feel on the greens during practice rounds this week and got some really good reads from my caddie.”

Phillips shakes hands with Brad Marek on the 18th hole during the final round of the PGA Professional Championship. (Photo by Ryan Lochhead/PGA of America)

Ben Polland , the PGA Director of Golf at Shooting Star of Jackson Hole in Teton Village, Wyoming, shot a 4-over-par 76 on a windy Wednesday to finish at 2-under-par 286 and win the event by three shots. He was the only golfer to finish under par.

Andy Svoboda (final-round 2-over-par 74) and Jared Jones (4-over-par 76) finished T-2 at 1-over-par 289. John Somers (2-over-par 73) and Jesse Mueller (1-over-par 73) tied for fourth at 2-over 290.

The low 20 scorers earned a position on the 2024 Corebridge Financial Team, and with it an exemption into the 2024 PGA Championship.

Phillips has never played Valhalla but did say he had downloaded the course onto the TrackMan simulator at work and had been hitting some shots into the greens to get a feel for the course in hopes this day would come. He said he doesn’t have any strong feelings about who he would like to play a practice round with because he’s going to 20 to 40 years older than most of the golfers in the field.

“Whoever will play with me I guess,” Phillips said. “I’m sure I’ll meet some great people and it will be an incredible experience.”

Two other Oklahoma professionals who made the cut finished outside the top 20. Jett Johnson of Quail Creek Country Club in Oklahoma City tied for 58th at 13 over and Cameron Chhim of Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa tied for 61st at 14 over.


 

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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source

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