PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Jerry Kelly scored a victory for the old guys when The Players Championship cut was finalized on Saturday.
Kelly, in the Players field for winning the Kaulig Companies Championship in 2022 (formerly the Senior Players), became the oldest in history to make the cut in the Players at 56 when he had rounds of 74-72 — 146.
Kelly finished his second round on Friday before the rain suspension when the cut was at 2 over. It moved to 3 over when the rest of the field returned, giving him a cushion in his second Players as the Kaulig Companies winner and his 24th overall start.
Kelly has 36 years on the youngest in the Players field, 20-year-old Tom Kim — who also made the cut on the number. Since they finished at different times, they aren’t grouped together for the third roundm but Kelly is playing with Keith Mitchell (25 years younger) and Alex Smalley (30 years his junior).
Kelly had two birdies and two bogeys in his second round and bogeyed his final hole. He began the third round 11 shots behind leader Adam Svensson.
The Wisconsin native is noted for his 2001 Players when he battled Tiger Woods on the weekend before finishing solo fourth, four shots behind Woods. Kelly held the 36- and 54-hole leads.
The PGA Tour began rewarding the winner of the Kaulig Companies Championship a spot in the Players in 2007. The USGA and the PGA of America also give spots in their major championships to winners of their Senior events.
Kelly, who won three times on the PGA Tour and 11 times on PGA Tour Champions, is only the second Champions Tour member to make the Players cut. Mark O’Meara played on the weekend in 2010 after opening rounds of 66-74, but faded to 74th when he shot 79-77.
Four Kaulig Companies champions have either been injured or opted out of The Players. Among those who have taken advantage of the exemption are World Golf Hall of Fame members Vijay Singh, Bernard Langer and O’Meara.