Tim Madigan Exempt from Local Qualifying 0 5

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) April 29, 2011 — Rio Rancho’s Tim Madigan can skip U.S. Open local qualifying this year by virtue of a No. 43 world amateur ranking. He was also one of five finalists for the Byron Nelson award.

Tim MadiganThe USGA grants an exemption from local qualifying for the U.S. Open to the top 50 amateurs in the world, as defined by the World Amateur Golf Ranking jointly administered by the R&A and USGA. Madigan, a senior at New Mexico State University, was ranked No. 43 on the cut-off date, April. 27.

Madigan also was in the hunt for the Byron Nelson Award, to be announced May 3. Finalists are Cyril Bouniol of Abilene Christian, Georgia’s Harris English, Timothy Madigan of New Mexico State, Centre College’s Chris Morris and Pepperdine’s Andrew Putnam, according to the Golf Coaches Association of America.

A candidate for the Byron Nelson Award must be a graduating senior. The selection committee considers equally a nominee’s entire collegiate academic and golf career and his character and integrity while in college. Particular consideration is  given to a nominee’s good citizenship, as portrayed by Nelson over the course of his life and golf career.

Madigan recently won the 65th Western Intercollegiate and was the only player in the 92-player field to shoot par or better all three rounds, according to GolfStats.

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Sierra Del Rio to Shutter for Two Months 0 30

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 NewMexicoGolfNews.com. Reach him at dan@newmexicogolfnews.com.