From Stewart Cink (48) and Richard Bland (48) to the legend Phil Mickelson (51), the 2020-21 golf season has seen a string of older guys turn back the clock and deliver some of the best stories of the season.
Add Timothy O’Neal to the list.
The 48-year old O’Neal shot a final-round 68 at Detroit Golf Club to claim a two-shot victory at the inaugural John Shippen.
“Age is nothing but a number, right?” joked O’Neal, who secured a spot in the Rocket Mortgage Classic with the win.
He added, “It was a little stressful today. I didn’t play that well on the front nine and was able to — had a hiccup on 14 and had the ball spin back in the water, but after that I rebounded and made a couple birdies coming down the stretch and was able to get the win.
“So super happy, excited to play Rocket Mortgage.”
The event is named after John Shippen Jr., who was the country’s first Black golf professional.
Born in Washington D.C. to a former slave and minister, Shippen started as a caddie at Shinnecock Golf Club in Long Island, NY, where he was taught the game by Shinnecock’s club pro Willie Dunn Jr. – the runner-up in the very first U.S. Open (1895).
Shippen competed in the first six editions of the United States Open, finishing fifth in 1896 and 1902.
The new event named in Shippen’s honor brings together the best Black golfers in the country.
“The John Shippen aims to address barriers that have prevented talented Black golfers and aspiring business professionals from realizing their dreams of playing professional golf or working in the golf industry,” said Rocket Mortgage CEO Jay Farner at the announcement of the initiative. “Rocket Mortgage is proud to support this event.”
It will be O’Neal’s eighth PGA Tour start, and first since the 2019 Genesis Open when Tiger Woods awarded him with the Charlie Sifford Memorial exemption.
The Georgia native has won three times on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.
Congratulations to @TimONeal00 for winning the inaugural #THEJOHNSHIPPEN National Invitational (men's field) & earning a sponsor exemption into the #RocketMortgageClassic!! ⛳️🙌🏾⛳️#TJS2021 #ForeTheCulture #TheJohnShippen #JohnShippen #golf #blacksingolf #blackgolfers #blackgolf pic.twitter.com/bFAMQZH0Ww
— The John Shippen (@TheJShippen) June 28, 2021