Oct. 15, 2007
LAS VEGAS, NV. –
George McNeil, who earned All-America Honorable Mention Honors as a Florida State University golfer in 1998, won the individual championship at the Frys.com Open on Oct. 14 to earn the first win of his PGA career. McNeil earned All-ACC honors in 1998 and finished in second place at the ACC Championship in 1996.
McNeil shot a five-under 67 for a 23-under 264 total and a four stroke victory over D.J. Trahan of Clemson. He earned the winning share of $720,000 on a beautiful, clear day in the desert after a strong wind played a big factor in Saturday’s third round. McNeill won the event with his only bogey coming at the end of a fourth consecutive solid round at TPC Summerlin. His trophy then arrived from 5,000 feet above, carried by one of two hang gliders who took part in the award ceremony.
“That whole saying about what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, I hope my game travels,” McNeill said, smiling after closing out the victory. “I felt like I didn’t do anything that special. It’s nice to kind of buzz around and win by four and not feel like you’re doing anything all that great.”
McNeill, who last December won q-school by 5 strokes, was coming off rounds of 66, 64 and 67 and became the second victorious rookie and eleventh first time winner this year. He began his final round at 18 under and five strokes ahead, matching the largest lead on the tour this year heading in to the final round.
The victory secured McNeil’s PGA Tour card for the next two years. All that after a discouraging stretch earlier this year when he missed six cuts and withdrew from one event in an eight tournament span.
“I was trying not to think about all that stuff when I was out there player,” McNeill said. “I don’t get emotional. I’m having fun with this. It hasn’t sunk in yet…In a sense, I know I have a job for the next two years and it takes the pressure off.”
McNeill, who spent last year working in a golf shop before rediscovering his desire to compete, made only two birdies on the front nine but played his best golf ever the final nine holes. He birdied four of his final eight holes.
McNeill graduated from Florida State after helping the Seminoles reach the three NCAA Tournaments. He helped lead the Seminoles to a seventh place finish in the 1995 NCAA Championship. During his career he earned one tournament title and 23 top twenty finishes.