Savannah native gets new start on Champions Tour
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - By Labor Day, the PGA Tour season is over.
But this year, the holiday brings a new beginning for a Savannah native who has been playing professional golf for more than half his life.
This Labor Day, Tim O’Neal arrives in St. Louis and on the Champions Tour, seeking his next big career breakthrough - one that has been three decades in the making.
As he has remained competitive with limber-backed youngsters on golf’s developmental tours, age has never been a factor for Tim O’Neal. Until now, when it could work in his favor.
“Hopefully, I’ll be one of the longer guys. not the longest guy, but I’ll be one of the longest guys. So, we’ll see, you still have to chop and putt. Still working hard,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal turned 50 a month ago. This week he makes his debut in over-50 golf with his first start on the PGA Tour Champions.
He received a sponsor’s exemption into the Ascension Charity Classic in St. Louis and, beginning Friday, will once be playing with people his own age.
“Luckily, I still feel pretty good. I don’t have any ailments or anything like that. Fortunately, I feel pretty good and getting ready for a new chapter in my life ... I’m very excited about the opportunity and I’m looking forward to it and I can’t wait to get to St. Louis so I can tee it up,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal has won more than a dozen times on mini tours while chasing the dream of playing at the highest level across the country and on different continents. He has made nine starts on the PGA Tour and more than 75 on the Korn Ferry Tour.
This week represents his latest shot at a career breakthrough by showing he belongs with the best of his generation.
“Same opportunity. I don’t have any Champions Tour status, so I’ve just got to try to get as many exemptions as possible. This is the first one and hopefully I’ll get a few more before Q-School. If not, I’ll get prepared for Q-School, which is in November,” O’Neal said.
But after almost 30 years in pro golf, O’Neal’s new future is now.
“I’m playing with guys my age and a little older now. There are a few guys I know out there. I’ve been making a few phone calls, there’s a few things I’m not familiar with on the Champions Tour, like some guys can take carts. There are some guys out there that I know. I’m just happy to get a start and hoping to make the best of it,” O’Neal said.
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