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This week, groundskeeper will be playing, not tending

Bryan Bigley mows fairways, rakes bunker and cuts greens at Raintree Country Club while keeping his golf game sharp enough to think about what could be.

The course maintenance worker gets his big chance this week after winning the final spot in the field for the Wells Fargo Championship by capturing a sudden-death playoff Monday in the qualifying event at Carolina Golf Club.

Bigley was one of four players to shoot 4-under par 66 and his birdie-birdie performance in sudden-death earned him the final spot, keeping North Carolina golf coach John Inman out of the tournament.

Kyle Thompson (64), Willie Wood (65) and Lanto Griffin (65) also earned spots at Quail Hollow this week.

"You need to catch a break and this is a break. Who knows where it can lead?" Bigley said Monday night.

A former college golfer at Siena, Bigley has worked for three years at Raintree. His father is a course superintendent in Albany, N.Y., and Bigley has been taking care of golf courses since he was 14. He plays some mini-tour events when he can but Monday was only his third competitive event of the year.

He played with longtime PGA Tour players Eric Axley and Ted Purdy during the qualifier.

"I looked at their games compared to mine and I could see that they're similar," Bigley said.

Charlotteans Corey Nagy and Kevin Silva shot 67 to miss qualifying by one stroke. Jeff Curl, another local, shot 68, and Huntersville's David Sanchaez also narrowly missed making the field.

McIlroy returns

Rory McIlroy spent Monday morning playing the front nine at Quail Hollow Club, getting some work done on his golf game, knocking the edge off any jet lag and remembering what he did here last year.

"It's great. A lot of great memories," McIlroy said after finishing his round.

"(We were) talking about hitting some shots from here and from there....Talking about holing a putt from here. It's great to be back."

McIlroy arrived in Charlotte on Sunday from his home in Northern Ireland, where he had a session with his swing coach Michael Bannon last week. He also had one session with putting guru Dave Stockton here, just to trade some thoughts. McIlroy said he doesn't know if he'll do more with Stockton but was interested in hearing what he had to say.

On Monday evening, McIlroy and a few of his friends on tour were scheduled to play soccer at a local high school before getting down to more serious preparation.

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