Trey Mullinax’s putt on the final hole of the Barbasol Championship on Sunday gave the former Gardendale High School golfer his first PGA Tour victory, but he’d rolled in a putt like that before.
Mullinax sank the winning stroke for Alabama at the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Trey Mullinax is back on Track at Open Championship
Mullinax equated the two putts during his post-win press conference at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Kentucky, on Sunday.
“National championship with coach (Jay) Seawell in 2014,” Mullinax said. “It was a memorable occasion.” They were both excellent. This one might get it a little, but I’m not sure. They’re fairly close.”
But “this one” earned Mullinax a $660,000 check, exempt status on the PGA Tour for the next two seasons, vaulted him from 370th to 190th in the Official World Golf Ranking, and sent him to the 150th Open Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews this week.
Mullinax expressed excitement about his first Open Championship.
“What an incredible honor to be able to play over there,” Mullinax said. “It’s a dream come true to be able to play in St. Andrews on the 150th anniversary.”
Mullinax’s first PGA Tour victory marked a mountain top in his career after an extended valley caused by an accident during the Charles Schwab Challenge pro-am in 2019. A stray shot from one of his amateur partners struck Mullinax in the back of the head, knocking him out.
After being diagnosed with a mild concussion in the emergency room, he went on to finish 40th in the tournament. Mullinax, however, missed the cut in his next six tournaments, and it wasn’t until the 2019 Barbasol Championship that Mullinax decided to stop trying to play through his dizziness and headaches.
This time, the diagnosis was a severe concussion and convergence insufficiency, exacerbated by his constant practice and play during the summer heat. Convergence insufficiency causes people to be unable to focus their vision on nearby objects, resulting in headaches and an inability to concentrate.
Mullinax, who played in 28 PGA Tour tournaments in 2016-17, 24 in 2017-18, and 25 in 2018-19, played in only two on medical exemptions in 2019-20 after losing his PGA Tour card due to the injury. Mullinax went 19 months between PGA Tour appearances before returning via the Korn Ferry Tour in the 2020-21 season.
“Obviously, that guy didn’t intend to hit me,” Mullinax explained on Sunday. “It was just a freak accident.” It knocked me out for a while. I worked extremely hard to return. I went through a rough patch. You go from PGA Tour status to injury to not playing well to nothing. Then COVID hit, and you were out of luck for even longer. We just spent a lot of time practicing and getting better, and we just tried to keep going.
“As I previously stated, I was reminded of my purpose this week. God has brought me here to play golf, and I want to do it well and honor him in doing so, so that was my goal this week – to live out my purpose, good or bad.”
Mullinax, the final qualifier for this year’s Open Championship, will tee off at St. Andrews at 4:42 a.m. CDT Thursday (10:42 a.m. local time) with South African Dylan Frittelli and English Matthew Jordan.
Mullinax’s putt gave Alabama its second consecutive national title. The Crimson Tide’s championship team in 2013 also included Justin Thomas, who is scheduled to tee off three groups ahead of Mullinax on Thursday. This week, the former teammates posed for a photo on St. Andrews’ iconic Swilcan Bridge.
Stewart Cink and Danny Willett are among the other golfers who will tee off in the Open Championship on Thursday.
Cink, an alumnus of Florence’s Bradshaw High School, won the 2009 Open Championship in a playoff against Tom Watson.
Willett attended Jacksonville State and won the Masters in 2016.