Zac Blair – new player on the PGA Tour
It is fun to see sons or daughters of people you know have success in their chosen professions. In this case, Zac Blair followed his father, Jim, into pursuing tournament golf. His qualifying for the PGA Tour after graduating from college in the spring is almost surreal. Not only did he get his PGA card for the coming year, but in his first PGA Tour event, he was in the final pairing the last day. He didn’t have his best round on Sunday, but did finish with a birdie and a tie for 12th. His smile and enjoyment was all you needed to see as he holed out on the 18th green in front of a national audience.
His father, Jim Blair, is and was a very good player. He played in a total of 22 PGA events during his younger career. He played wherever a professional tournament was being held. His regular summer schedule was playing in state opens, smaller professional tournaments, Utah PGA section events, and qualifying for US Opens, PGA, and Ben Hogan Tour events. I first met Jim forty-one years ago at the Utah Open in Sandy, Utah. He was a hotshot amateur at the time. I was playing in my second “big” professional event. I finished 8th and won about $1,250, which seemed like a million dollars to me at that time. Over the years our paths would cross in these tournaments through Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. We got paired a lot and I witnessed a lot of great rounds from Zac’s father. In 1983, I played the first two rounds with him in the Colorado Open at Hiwan Country Club in the mountains just west of Denver in Evergreen. His rounds of 67 and 64 were great on a very demanding and penal golf course. He pulled off shots that defied description. He consistently hit shots that no one else could hit and or would even try. If I wasn’t there to witness it, I wouldn’t have believed it. The Colorado Open at that time was one of the best state opens and attracted players like Dave Stockton, Allan Gieberger, Dave Hill, Bob Murphy, Kermit Zarley, Larry Ziegler and college players like Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Cory Pavin and many others. So winning there was a major accomplishment. In this career, and I don’t have the exact numbers, but I think he won every state title that I mentioned and many of the smaller tournaments. I think he didn’t make it on the big tour because of his length. He is 5’6” and never hit it very long. Zac is listed as an inch taller, but appears of hit it far enough.
I believe it was 1994 or 1995 at the Salt Water Open in Riverton, Wyoming an excited Jim Blair wanted me to meet his son. Zac was 4 years old at that time. He called him over to where we were and introduced him to me. He said, “Zac meet Mr. Svenningsen and say hello.” Zac was very polite and shook my hand and said “hello.” Then Jim asked Zac to, “Tell Mr. Svenningsen, what is the secret to golf?” A four year old, Zac, very confidently looked at me and said “Fairways and Greens, Mr. Svenningsen.” I loved it!
As I said, Zac’s rise to the PGA Tour was unexpected. Zac had a good amateur career, but not outstanding. He turned pro after graduation from BYU in the spring. He qualified and made the cut in the US Open and finished 40th. That was his best golfing accomplishment. He had no standing on any tour at that point. He qualified into a few Web.com events and placed well. That got him into the finals of the Web.com qualifying tournaments in the fall. After starting poorly in the first few events, he put it all together in the final event, where he was leading after three rounds and eventually finishing a strong second. That earned him his PGA card. Then in his first PGA Tour start at the Fry.com Open at Silverado in the Napa Valley, he is in second place going into the final round. Yes, he shot 74 and dropped back, but that was some start. Will be fun to see him progress and see his smiling face on future leaderboards.