Monday, November 20, 2017
Golf

FSU's George McNeill savors success as he rides into Transitions Championship

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PALM HARBOR — George McNeill is coming off a good weekend heading into today's Transitions Championship. Not only did the Fort Myers resident win his second career tournament at the Puerto Rico Open on Sunday, but the Florida State alumnus also found out his Seminoles won the ACC basketball tournament on the same day.

"A lot of my buddies were texting me," said McNeill, who birdied the last three holes to win by two shots over Japan's Ryo Ishikawa. "They were saying how it was a great weekend for FSU."

The victory earned McNeill $630,000, but it didn't come with an invitation to the Masters since the Puerto Rico Open was played opposite a World Golf Championships event. He is exempt on the PGA Tour for two years and does have a spot in the PGA Championship in August.

"I felt a kind of calmness all week," McNeill said. "It didn't matter what I shot every day. I just kind of went with it and kept playing."

As for this week, McNeill certainly has momentum. And he's playing on a course he likes.

"I would say (Copperhead) is my favorite golf course," McNeill said. "It's my favorite in Florida by far. As long as we keep playing here, I'll keep coming back."

Under the radar: Charl Schwartzel is making his first appearance at the Transitions Championship. Even though he's last year's Masters champion, he's not the kind of player who creates a buzz like Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy. But the self-proclaimed "shy" South African doesn't mind being overlooked.

"It's nothing new for me," Schwartzel said. "It's always been like that. Tiger's always been popular. Rory has always been popular. It's nothing new for anyone."

Young guns: One of the more interesting pairings for the first two rounds is the threesome of Bud Cauley (turns 22 on Friday), Tom Lewis (21) and Ishikawa (20). Lewis and Cauley are making their first appearances at Innisbrook. Ishikawa is playing in his fourth Transitions.

Quote of the day: "I'm still learning out here. I just graduated from college six months ago. It's all still a learning process for me. I know it can go away just like that. Golf is hard." Harris English, PGA rookie and Georgia grad, who already has three top-20 finishes in his first six tournaments

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