Madigan Finishes Strong Heading into Q School 0 48

Tim Madigan

Posts 2 Top 10s in Last 2 Starts

What was shaping up as a so-so year in his second season on the eGolf Professional Tour turned brighter Thursday as former New Mexico State University golfer Tim Madigan notched a second consecutive top 10 finish at the Northstone Open in Huntersville, N.C.

A T6 finish in the final event of the eGolf Tour 2013 season placed Madigan, 23, 18th on the tour’s money list with $31,434. He played in 19 events, with four top 10 finishes.

The Northstone performance and $2,625 check followed a T3 finish and a $5,330 check a week earlier at the eGolf Professional Tour’s Salisbury Classic in Salisbury, N.C.

Madigan turned pro when he won going away at the 2011 New Mexico Open at Santa Ana Golf Club. He did not play in the 2012 event, opting instead to compete on the Mid-Atlantic-centered eGolf development circuit.

In 2012, he finished 21st on the eGolf money list with $37,068 and two top finishes, including a late-season win at Northstone last October.

Madigan’s Northstone title defense this week started strong. He held the 36-hole lead Wednesday night following a round of 65, but bogies on the final three holes on Thursday dropped him three shots behind the winner, Frank Adams.

Madigan’s father, Steve, planned to caddie for him at the first stage of the qualifying next week. Tim Madigan said Friday he planned to stick with the short putter and was gaining confidence in it even though it failed him during the 2013 New Mexico Open, where he missed the cut.

The four-event Q School is important because the former PGA Tour Q School no longer exists. Now, the only way for a rookie to gain exempt status on the PGA Tour is to excel during a season on the developmental tour.

At the end of next year’s regular season, the 75 top finishers will compete with the 75 lowest finishers from the PGA Tour’s 2013-2014 FedEx points list. About this time next fall, the merged field will vie for 50 available spots on the 2014-2015 PGA Tour season.

Despite the new requirement that rookies gain “seasoning” by spending time on the Tour, a three-time winner earns a “battlefield promotion” — meaning that player immediately gains status on the PGA Tour for the remainder of the regular season.

— Dan Vukelich

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Sierra Del Rio to Shutter for Two Months 0 104

Sierra del Rio Golf Course

Sierra Del Rio Golf Course, which restricted play in December to Thursday through Sunday only, will close for two months after the New Year.

The temporary closure of the 18-hole Elephant Butte golf course was announced in an email Sunday. The golf course’s food and beverage operation, also will close. Plans are to reopen on March 1, the course said.

“The course is in reasonably good condition but we want it to be in the best shape possible when we reopen,” a golf shop employee said Sunday. Maintenance crews will devote the downtime to earth and drainage work to repair damage to native areas off the playing surfaces caused by heavy rains in September, the employee said.

Sierra Del Rio, a Richard Phelps design, is the centerpiece of a retirement- and second-home community near the Rio Grande in Southern New Mexico. Its director of golf is Guy Wimberly, who retired to Elephant Butte after decades running Arroyo Del Oso Golf Course in Albuquerque. Wimberly had no comment on the closure on Sunday.

Sierra Del Rio reduced playing days earlier this month. Winter is typically playable in Southern New Mexico, where daily highs reach into the 50s and 60s.

Sierra Del Rio is part of the Turtleback Mountain Resort. It opened in 2007 on the footprint of the old Oasis Golf Resort and is the nearest golf course to Spaceport America, where Virgin Galactic plans to fly tourists to the edge of space.

The renovated course and new homes built near it provided a boost to the local economy, but homebuilding and rounds played suffered following the 2008 housing collapse.

Dan Vukelich is editor of Reach him at