When Donnie Hammond opened with a course-record 65 at the difficult Tournament Players Club, registered two fine rounds at Sawgrass and then returned to the TPC and shot 66 and went on to win the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament by 14 strokes, PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman took notice.
"We might not ever again see back-to-back rounds of 65 and 66 at the Tournament Players Club," Beman said.
For Hammond, a self-taught pro from Frederick in his fourth attempt at qualifying school, happiness was knowing he could shoot 102 the final round and still make the PGA Tour for a full year.
"I was really flying that week," said Hammond. "It really did feel good, to say the least." The 65 included eight birdies and the 66 two eagles.
He learned his golf in area junior programs and at Frederick's VFW course. He earned a scholarship at Jacksonville University after being a walk-on.
He came on the last three years on the J.C. Goosie Space Coast mini-tour in Florida, where he won five times and earned $130,000. He won the Florida Open last summer and now lives in Longwood, near Orlando.
"I always wanted to be a pro. It's a pretty good feeling to play with guys like Lanny Wadkins and Jack Nicklaus; guys who were my idols when I grew up."
Hammond, 26, in the rookie-of-the-year race with earnings of $21,649, has posted some amazing numbers. A 67 at tough Spyglass thrust him into contention at the Crosby, but he faltered the final day and won $5,400.
At Bay Hill, he won $1,330 after ballooning to a final-round 80, in which he was penalized two strokes for hitting out of turn.
"I think the problems in the last rounds are because it's my first year on the tour and some tough conditions. I'm still getting used to playing in the wind and cold and stuff," Hammond said.
At the Kemper, Hammond will have as caddy his father William, who will take leave from his job for the week. Fred Gibson, Wheeler Stewart, and Woody FitzHugh will be be among 30 Middle Atlantic PGA pros shooting for four spots in Kemper qualifying Tuesday at Poolesville. . . . Fifty seven pros and 34 amateurs will vie for nine spots in local U.S. Open qualifying Monday at Woodmont and Washingtonian's motel course. The survivors gain the sectionals June 6 at Bethesda.