Another 65-year-old journeyman pro receives sponsor exemption into Black Desert Championship

Some say that age is just a number. But age 65 carries some added significance. After all, it’s usually when social security kicks in. But lately, on the PGA Tour, it’s also the age for one last send off against the flat bellies.

As a testament to his career, Black Desert has presented local legendary professional Jay Don Blake, who will turn 66 on Oct. 28, with an exemption to compete at the inaugural Black Desert Championship this fall, according to a press release. The tournament, which will be held Oct. 9-13, will mark Blake’s 500th career Tour event in his hometown of St. George, Utah.

Blake’s exemption comes not long after Russ Cochran, who is three days younger than Blake, teed it up for his 600th career start at the Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Cochran was invited to play in the team event as the partner to reigning Tour Rookie of the Year Eric Cole. They nearly made the cut despite Cochran making his first start since the 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii. Cochran’s son, Reed, also serves as Cole’s caddie.

Black Desert Managing Partner Patrick Manning surprised Blake and his wife, Marcie, who was his caddie for over a decade on the Champions Tour, with the exemption less than two weeks ago on Black Desert’s 19-hole course. Blake was also met by 18 family members on the green, including all his children and grandkids.

“As soon as we announced the Black Desert Championship and the PGA’s return to Utah, we knew we had to get to work,” said Manning. “With Jay being born and raised in St. George and 499 Tour starts, we knew what a special moment we could create to help him reach 500. This has been a work in progress for about a year, getting approval from the PGA (Tour) about two weeks ago.”

Blake was inducted into Utah State University’s Hall of Fame in 1991. During his collegiate career, he won the 1980 NCAA Golf Championship, followed by a second-place finish the following year. Blake, a two-time All-American, was also named the Collegiate Player of the Year in 1981.

Jay Don Blake acknowledges the crowd after losing to John Cook in a playoff during the final round of the 2011 Songdo IBD Championship.

Blake earned his card 43 years ago, making his first Tour start six years later in 1987. His best year came in 1991, with his lone Tour win at the Shearson Lehman Brothers Open, five other top-10 finishes and a top-30 money list placing. He also led the Tour in putting in 1991. Blake, who earned more than $5 million during his Tour career, went on to win three time on the senior circuit and $10 million overall. He most recently played in the Tour’s 2018 Barracuda Championship and competed in two PGA Tour Champions events last season. He last broke 70 at a Champions Tour event at the 2018 Sanford International.

“We know our community is eagerly anticipating Blake’s performance in this year’s event,” said Manning. “The opportunity to watch our hometown hero mark yet another chapter in his career is what Black Desert is all about, making remarkable within reach.”

The Black Desert Championship, which will be part of the FedEx Cup Fall series, will mark the first PGA Tour event contested in Utah in more than 60 years.

Played against the backdrop of southern Utah’s red rock mountains, the par-72 Black Desert Golf Course was designed by Phil Smith and the late Tom Weiskopf, the final design from the World Golf Hall of Fame 2024 inductee.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek