A four-foot putt for par.
That’s what determined whether Sydney 22-year-old John Lyras would remain an amateur or join the professional ranks.
In the United States to play amateur tournaments, the St Michael’s Golf Club and Eastlake Golf Club member in Sydney’s south had to go through pre-qualifying to earn a start in the Monday qualifier for this week’s Wyndham Championship on the PGA TOUR.
A 4-under par round of 67 at Bermuda Run Country Club earned him a place in the three-man playoff for two spots, his nerve-wracking putt for par at the first playoff hole fast-tracking his plans to become a professional.
“I wasn’t going to leave it short so I just thought, What the heck, make it,” Lyras told the Greensboro News and Record of the life-changing putt.
“Now I’m playing in my first PGA TOUR event, which is kind of crazy.”
A cricketer throughout high school due to the fact that golf was not a sport offered by the exclusive school that he attended, Lyras qualified for the 2017 Australian Open at The Australian Golf Club where he missed the cut with rounds of 72-74.
Runner-up in the Northern Territory Amateur in April, Lyras has played five events in America since June but in three made cuts has not finished better than 34th.
The addition of Lyras bolsters the Australian contingent at Sedgefield Country Club to seven with Cameron Smith, Aaron Baddeley and Matt Jones hoping to improve their Order of Merit positions ahead of the FedEx Cup Playoffs starting next week.
Sitting 75th and with one eye on the top-70 cut-off who advance to the second week of the Playoffs, Smith enters the Wyndham Championship very much trending in the right direction.
Top 20 at the British Open and tied for 12th last week at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, Smith has twice made the cut in three appearances at Sedgefield, tied for 18th in 2015 and tied for seventh two years ago with a scoring average of 67.40.
Sitting in 107th and 109th position respectively, Baddeley and Jones have done enough to feature in the first week of the playoffs and in the process secure their cards for 2020.
It’s a particularly great effort from Baddeley who has played the entire PGA TOUR season without full status.
Kiwi Danny Lee (64th) can set himself for a strong playoffs run with a good week at the Wyndham with Cameron Davis, Curtis Luck and Rod Pampling rounding out the Aussies in the field.
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