Golf

Californian Burke shoots red hot 64 to claim MGRC Open Qualifier

AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD 
 Joe Daley hits his ball onto the green from the fairway during the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic Open Qualifier on Tuesday, March 29, 2016, at the Diamondhead Golf Course.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD Joe Daley hits his ball onto the green from the fairway during the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic Open Qualifier on Tuesday, March 29, 2016, at the Diamondhead Golf Course. SUN HERALD

Less than a month ago, Patrick Burke wasn't even planning to be at Diamondhead Country Club Tuesday to take part in the open qualifier for this weekend's Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.

That all changed two weeks ago when members of the golf community in his hometown of Coto de Caza, Calif., put together a fundraiser to allow Burke to continue his pursuit of a spot on the PGA Tour Champions.

On Tuesday, a beaming Burke handed in a scorecard of 64 at Diamondhead.

"The Men's Golf Association at our club literally threw me a lifeline and now I'm here. I'm pretty excited," Burke said.

Burke was one of five men to qualify for the MGRC during Tuesday's tournament in Hancock County.

The other four to qualify were Scott Parel (66), Tim Thelen (68), Steen Tinning (68) and Geoffrey Sisk (69).

Sisk, a Massachusetts native, earned the final spot in the tournament by beating Miguel Angel Martin in a playoff by making par on the third hole.

The MGRC, which is in its seventh year, will take place Friday-Sunday at Fallen Oak in Saucier. Parel's 6-under allowed him to qualify for his fourth consecutive Champions event.

"That was in my head when I played yesterday. I thought 6-under might have a pretty good chance," the Augusta, Ga., resident said Tuesday. "The greens are in great shape. You've got to make some birdies.

"I only missed two greens so I had a lot of chances."

Burke, who teaches golf at the Coto De Caza Golf & Racquet Club, also did his damage on the greens with his round only including a total of 21 putts.

The Champions record for the fewest putts in a round is 17 by Bob Brue at the 1994 Kroger Senior Classic in Mason, Ohio.

"The greens are perfect," Burke said. "The greens are so good that you can make a lot of putts. I made a ton of putts today for birdies and pars.

"I actually hit four provisionals today and all of them ended up OK. I was worried about two of them."

About an hour after Burke completed his round, he finally took the time to calculate his putts for the day. Even he was amazed by the number of 21.

The 54-year-old was just two strokes off his best round as a pro.

"I play in California and we don't get to play on Bermuda very often," he said. "(The greens) were very nice. They did a great job considering what the weather has been. Just two days ago, I thought it was going to be tough. They were actually pretty good out there."

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