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Unlucky McDonald misses out in US

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United States-based Zimbabwean professional golfer Bruce McDonald came agonisingly close to winning his first major career tournament after losing out to American Kevin Foley by just one shot during eGolf Tour’s Pine Needles Classic on Saturday.

The eGolf Professional Tour — formerly known as the Tarheel Tour — is a third-level men’s professional golf tour in the US behind the US PGA Tour and the Nationwide Tour.

The Pine Needles Classic was contested at both the Pine Needles Resort in Southern Pines and Seven Lakes Country Club in West End, North Carolina.

McDonald, who was on the range preparing for a possible play-off when Foley made the winning putt, earned $16 111 after finishing on 15-under par 270 (64-69-70-67).

The second place finish was the best of McDonald’s eGolf Tour career. Foley, a former Penn State University standout, captured his first-ever eGolf Tour title with a 16-under 269 (68-65-69-67) total, which saw him walk away with a prize money of $29 000.

The Pine Needles Classic was the third of 24 scheduled events on the 2012 eGolf Tour schedule.
In an interview with NewsDay Sport from his base in the US, McDonald said he was happy with his performance.

“I had a great week at Pine Needles. A demanding Donald Ross layout in Pinehurst North Carolina that rewards solid iron play and course management. I got to the clubhouse at 15-under for the week after playing very well in the last for a bogey-free 67. The player in the last group (Foley) made a 20 foot birdie putt on 17 to tie the lead. On 18 I watched him hit his approach to 30-35 feet from the flag. I walked on to the range to swing a few with a play-off looming. I looked up when I heard the claps that he had made the putt. It would have been nice to get a win this early in the year, but those things happen in golf sometimes. I’m playing well, enjoying my golf so I’m looking forward to what’s coming up,” said McDonald.

McDonald, who last year failed to earn a European Tour card, represented Zimbabwe at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup of Golf in Hainan Island, China, in November last year.

Playing alongside PGA Tour veteran Brendon de Jonge for four rounds of play, team Zimbabwe posted a respectable 11th-place finish in the 28-team event, bettering the likes of rival South Africa by a single shot. This year McDonald is one of three local players with Sunshine Tour exemption status for the next month’s 2012 Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open together with Tongo Charamba and Ryan Cairns.

McDonald represented the Zimbabwe Junior and Amateur golf teams from 1997 to 1999 before he was awarded a full golf scholarship at the Charleston University in South Carolina.

The golf scholarship allowed him to play golf while studying for a degree in Business Studies. He played his first tournament on home soil since turning professional in January last year at the 2011 Zimbabwe Open where he finished tied 23rd with Ignatius Mtekekete to emerge the best local golfers.

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