The most unlikely made cut streak on the PGA Tour, Maverick McNealy's well-timed first hole-in-one and a Jason Dufner sighting
The PGA Tour's best feel-good story got even better on Friday. And if Willie Mack III keeps this up through Sunday, it could be the makings of a Hollywood script.
For a second consecutive week, the 32-year-old made a cut at a PGA Tour event. And while many tour pros are given the label “journeyman,” Mack is one of the few who can say his journey has involved living out of a car for a year and a half.
Those days must seem like ages ago, though, for a player who is working weekends at the highest level of the sport now. And after needing an up-and-down on his final hole to make his first cut at last week's Rocket Mortgage Classic, there was no such drama this time.
Mack, playing once again on a sponsor’s exemption, birdied his final hole of the second round at the John Deere Classic to shoot a five-under 66. He’ll enter the weekend at TPC Deere Run inside the top 40.
“Yeah, just hard work and never giving up, honestly,” Mack told reporters after his round. “It’s a tough road out here if you’re not on the PGA Tour, and just grinding on the mini-tours, it can get tough. Just hopefully coming out here and showing that I can play, and hopefully I can play well the last two days.”
Catching leader Luke List, who is at 13 under after shooting eight-under 63, will be tough, but Mack could do far less and it would still be a life-changing weekend. In the meantime, here’s what else caught our eye from Day 2 at the 2021 John Deere Classic.
Mama, there goes that man again!
Sorry, I’ve been subjected to a LOT of Mark Jackson doing NBA games lately. But seriously, another week, another Brandon Hagy sighting on a leader board.
Following a T-6 in Detroit last week (he also had a runner-up at the Honda in March), Hagy is back in contention at T-4. This was a particularly CLEAN round for the Cal grad with zero bogeys on the card and five birdies on the front nine. His only non-par on the back nine was an eagle on the par-5 17th hole, where he rolled in a 10-footer after a beautiful approach from 200 yards set up by a 336-yard drive.
Not that that’s anything special for a guy averaging 330 off the tee through two rounds.
“I think my driving efficiency is pretty strong,” Hagy said after. “I’ve been able to hit it pretty far and keep the ball in front of me, which has been great. My iron shots have gotten a little bit better. I mean, really across the board there’s just been little things that I’ve been working on that have helped.”
With Hagy having as many missed cuts as made cuts this year, consistency is still an issue for the 30-year-old. But as he has shown this season, when he makes the weekend, he's more than capable of hanging around the leader board the rest of the way.
Kevin Na has game, won’t travel
It’s been a weird year for Kevin Na, who won the first full-field event of the year at the Sony Open, hasn’t had a top 10 since, but has finished T-11 at a World Golf Championship and matched a personal best with a T-12 at the Masters. He’s cooking again this week, though. Just look at this short-game maestro at work:
That’s just showing off. After a Friday 66, Na, who withdrew from next week's Open Championship due to “travel restrictions,” sits just outside the top 10 entering the weekend. If he keeps up this hot play, you have to wonder if he’ll regret that decision.
Dufnering around the leader board
We have a Jason Dufner sighting! The folks at Dude Wipes must be pumped.
In 25 prior events this season, Dufner has failed to record a single top-25 finish while missing more cuts (14) than he’s made. But after a 65 on Friday, the 2013 PGA champ is just the top 10 heading into the weekend.
The six-under round was the 44-year-old’s best score in relation to par in two years. So, yeah, it’s nice to see his cheerful face back.
Maverick McNealy’s ace
There’s never a bad time to make your first hole-in-one, but doing it during a day you play your way into contention has to be even sweeter. That’s what McNealy, 25, did during a second-round 64 that included an ace on the par-3 16th hole. Have a look:
Pretty. Unfortunately for McNealy backers, after needing one shot from 137 yards, their man took three shots to get down from 18 feet on his final hole for a bogey that dropped him out of the top 10. As they say, that’s golf.