WINTER GARDEN, Florida (AP) — Frank Lickliter, who opened with consecutive 62s in the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament, completed a wire-to-wire week at Orange County National on Monday and finished as the medalist at 29-under 403. He won by four shots over Brett Rumford of Australia.
The top 25 positions, including ties, earned fully exempt status on the Tour for the 2008 season. Twenty-six players came in at 14-under 418 or better, the cutoff for Tour cards.
The story of the day, however, was Todd Demsey. After a 10-year absence and two surgeries to remove a brain tumor the size of a golf ball, he finally made it back to the Tour on Monday with perhaps the most significant round of his career.
Demsey, a former U.S. college champion and amateur teammate of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, closed with an 8-under 64 to reach 19-under 413, good enough for eighth place. He will likely start his year at the Sony Open in Honolulu, just five weeks away.
Demsey was in a tie for 31st at the beginning of the final round. He birdied his first hole and kept right on going, and when his 30-foot birdie putt on the 14th found the bottom of the cup, he knew he was close. Then came his seventh birdie of the day, on the 16th, and Demsey knew he was a lock.
Unlike previous years, there weren’t too many horror stories, although Greg Chalmers and Miguel Angel Carballo each bogeyed the 18th hole and missed a card by one shot. John Merrick and Bob Sowards birdied the final hole to earn their cards.
Chalmers and Carballo were among 53 players who earned cards on the developmental Nationwide Tour.
Also failing to earn cards were former Ryder Cup players Chris Riley and Steve Pate, and Ted Purdy, who was 125th on U.S. PGA Tour money list going into the final event of the year and missed the cut at Disney.
A couple of past champions on the PGA Tour earned their cards by finishing in the top 25, including Duffy Waldorf, who closed with a 66, and Carlos Franco of Paraguay, who shot 70.