Roy McAvoy has nothing on Jeff Maggert
BILOXI — Jeff Maggert, who does not resemble Kevin Costner, could have been excused Wednesday afternoon if he felt like he was playing Roy McAvoy in one of those trick shot scenes from the movie Tin Cup.
There was Maggert Wednesday on the third floor pool deck at Harrah’s Casino on the inland side of Highway 90,
an 8-iron in his hands, aiming toward the Gulf of Mexico.
Here’s the way Gary McCord might have described the scene:
So here’s 51-year-old Jeff Maggert taking his stance on a little platform with people splashing around in the pool behind him. He will be hitting an 8-iron off a mat of plastic grass. He must hit the ball over four lanes of heavy traffic on Highway 90 and then over eight majestic palm trees. He’s aiming at a 12 by 12 foot blue square 135 yards away. That’s Deer Island you see in the background. The wind is gusting at 15 mph from left to right. He’s got 10 chances to hit that square and win $5,000 of C Spire money for Habitat for Humanity. And, frankly, I don’t like Habitat’s odds.
So, of course, Maggert, doing his best Costner imitation, nailed the blue square on the very first of his 10 shots.
He hit the square two more times and narrowly missed it every other time, usually because a gust of wind blew his ball just right of the target.
Maggert’s peers on the Champions Tour probably would not be surprised. Maggert is known as one of the most accurate hitters on the Champions Tour — or in golf for that matter.
Comparisons between Maggert and Roy McAvoy end with Wednesday’s trick shot. Costner’s Roy McAvoy was a go-for-broke gambler who enjoyed taking any risk out there. If faced with a one-in-10 shot, he liked his odds. Maggert, on the other hand, is golf’s “steady Eddie.” He is a fairways and greens kind of guy. He never beats himself. He rarely sees the rough, which is one reason he why he has been a factor in several U.S. Opens.
That’s also why he has won more than $22 million as a pro. That’s why he has twice finished as high as third in the U.S. Open. That’s why he has top five finishes in all four majors. That’s why he won three times on the PGA Tour and that’s why he’s the defending champion here at the Mississippi Gulf Resorts Classic where Fallen Oak requires accurate driving and precise approach shots.
Maggert won here last year on his debut on the Champions Tour, where you can’t play until you reach the age of 50. It made for a happy 50th. He’d like to belatedly celebrate a happy 51st.
“I feel like I am right on the verge of winning again,” Maggert said. “I have been hitting the ball really well. It’s just a matter of getting my putter going and making some putts.”
Maggert already has two top 10 finishes on the Champions Tour this season, including a ninth last week at Tucson where he shot three straight sub-par rounds.
Last year, he played 19 times on the regular PGA Tour, earning about $360,000. He played 12 times on the Champions Tour, winning nearly $766,000.
The main difference in the two tours?
“On the PGA Tour, you’ve got more than 100 guys who are capable of winning any given week,” Maggert said. “On the Champions Tour it’s more like 30 or 35 players you have to beat.”
The biggest misconception about the two tours?
“Most people seem to think the Champions Tour tournaments are played on shorter, easier golf courses,” Maggert said. “That’s not really the case. Most courses we play on this tour are over 7,000 yards.”
Fallen Oak can stretch out to nearly 7,500 yards, but like any course it plays shorter when you constantly hit from the short grass. And that’s Jeff Maggert’s M.O.