Golf report: Slocum could nail down Masters spot

There's an invitation to the Masters and U.S. Open on the line this week for Heath Slocum.

Slocum is No. 30 on the PGA Tour's money list heading into this week's final official event, the Children's Miracle Network Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort. If the Milton resident can hang on to his position, he'll earn one of the automatic invitations to the Masters and U.S. Open that go to the top 30 earners.

Slocum has made two appearances in the Masters. He tied for 33rd in 2008, the year that he and best buddy Boo Weekly made their debut in Augusta, and tied for 18th this spring.

Slocum has won $2.374 million this year, his best showing in five seasons on the tour. His closest challengers to the No. 30 spot in the field this week are J.B. Holmes (No. 32) and Brendon de Jonge (No. 34).

Slocum won the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island in October, but a victory in the Fall Series, unlike a win during the regular season, doesn't earn an automatic invitation to the Masters. A good finish this week would ensure another trip to Augusta.

Two players with Georgia ties are on the PGA Tour's eligibility bubble. Briny Baird, who attended Georgia Tech and graduated from Valdosta State, and Georgia Southern's Aron Price get their final chance to climb inside the Top 125 on the PGA Tour's money list and earn a complete exemption for 2011.

Baird starts the week at No. 126 and is $12,991 away from matching the $723,328 that Georgia Tech graduate Troy Matteson has earned at No. 125. Matteson is in the field this week, too, but isn't concerned, since he's fully exempt through 2011 based on winning the 2009 Open. Price's situation is a bit more difficult. He's No. 127, but needs to make up a gap of $19,226.

It's not an impossible situation. Last year two players, including Georgia Tech graduate Nicholas Thompson, jumped into the top 125 during the final event. Thompson is in the same situation this year, but needs a top-three finish to have a chance, since he's starting at No. 150.


Four Georgians are in the field for the 34th PGA Assistant Championship, which begins today at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. They are Tim Weinhart of Johns Creek, Bill Van Orman of Bogart, Mike Pavao of Canton and Eric Reeves of Gray. The national event has a purse of $100,000, with $9,000 going to the winner. ...

Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood have opted against taking up membership on the PGA Tour next year and will compete almost entirely in Europe. Martin Kaymer, the PGA champion, is on the fence and U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell will likely play in the U.S. The non-PGA Tour members have until 30 days after the final event to make their decision. It could be important monetarily, since only PGA Tour members are eligible to compete for the FedEx Cup.