Albin Choi

Monday Musings

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from this week’s Monday Qualifiers

Welcome to my weekly column rounding up the action at Monday qualifiers across the golf world. The journey continues….

 

The Good

A 90-foot bomb for eagle is a pretty sweet way to get through, and Tommy Gibson did just that on the third playoff hole at the Korn Ferry Tour Monday qualifier in Raleigh, N.C. After making pars on the first two playoff holes, he was just short of the green at the par-5 3rd hole with a lot of mud on his ball. Undeterred, he calmly rolled in the putt. Gibson is an assistant club pro in the area, and after his morning 67 he drove to his home an hour away, thinking he didn’t have a chance to get through. But as more scores came in, Gibson realized a playoff was a possibility so he jumped in his car and drove back to Bryan Park Golf Course, arriving around 5 p.m. What a story. Since I began tracking Mondays in 2017, Gibson became just the second player (who I know of) to make it through with a triple bogey on the card. But after screwing up the 7th hole, Gibson followed with a birdie and then an eagle to turn at 2 under

Want to talk about performing under pressure in Monday Qualifiers? Linus Lilliedahl had $44 in his bank account when he teed off in the Monday qualifier. After a round of 63 he is one step closer to the big money. After the round, Lilliedahl (pictured below) told me he has no idea how he is going to pay for the next few Latinoamerica Tour events, where he has full status, but that was a concern for another day—he was flying high after making it through on Monday. Linus grew up in Sweden and he typed up his journey for me to share:

“I want to start my story in 2013, my final year of high school. Coming from a low-income household, I had to work daily to support the household, as well as attending high school and practicing golf. All my high school years were busy juggling work, school and golf, but my last year was definitely the toughest mentally. I had a burning desire to pursue my dreams of becoming a professional golfer but in order to become that I decided that the American college route was the best path to take. Little did I realize that journey was full of heartbreaks such as saying goodbye to a long-term girlfriend, failing the SAT, and coaches that disregarded my letters and even went out of their way to tell me I was not good enough. On Christmas Eve that year, as I was working the night shift at the gas station, I got a call from the coach at the University of Missouri, a school I had not yet contacted or talked with. He wanted me to come over that very next semester to play for him. I ended up jumping on the opportunity and found myself in Missouri only three weeks later.”  

Monday Qualifier Linus Lilliedahl

Drew Czuchry played sparingly at Georgia Tech and has been grinding for six years on mini-tours. He has never had a start on a PGA Tour sanctioned event, but after Monday qualifying successfully that will change this week. Asked for one word to describe his feelings, Czuchry replied: “Validation.” He told me after his round the first person he called was his girlfriend and she screamed so loud he had to put the phone down.

Brad Schneider got through his first Monday qualifier since 2018. Schneider lives with Tour member Keith Mitchell and gave me some great info on my boss Matt Ginella that included such a big night out Matt woke up the next morning still wearing his clothes and shoes. I look forward to hearing the complete story from Matt around a fire pit. Schneider will be staying with the family of KFT member Ben Kohles this week. Guys stick together on their journeys to the tour.

It was good to see Brinson Paolini make it through a Monday Qualifier. Paolini was an All-American at Duke who played on the Challenge Tour in Europe in 2013 and won in his third event. He seemed like a can’t-miss-kid, but he has struggled ever since. Hoping he can find the old magic this week.

Zach Edmondson qualified for the 2016 U.S. Open, but it was a rough experience: He opened with an 89 and at one point in the second round was 28 over. But he played the last six holes in 3 under, a testament to his character. There have been more setbacks, but he presses on. After Monday qualifying again, the grind continues.

An eighth-grader qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open. I know a few teens have qualified in years past, but this is still absolutely amazing to me. Chloe Kovelesky, 14,  will tee it up this week at Olympic Club after shooting 140 in a 36-hole qualifier in Florida.

Cheyenne Woods continues to chase it — she won the New Jersey qualifier by five strokes.

Lucy Li, 18, was also among the qualifiers. She played in the 2014 Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2, shooting 78-78 as an 11-year-old. That makes my brain hurt. 

The Bad

Another week, another invitational on Tour, which means no Monday qualifier.

Not being on site stinks. I was spoiled last week with the qualifier being near my home in Chicago.

Sections of PGATour.com were down on Monday so finding career starts and info on guys who got through was impossible. Maybe I should start my own website?

J.C. McFadyen was looking to make his first Korn Ferry event and was 6 under while standing on the 16th tee. Unfortunately, he bogeyed the next two holes, forcing him into a 7-for-1 playoff. He bowed out on the first hole. That will sting for a while.

Five-time KFT winner Matt Goggin doesn’t play full-time anymore — he turns 47 this month — but it’s still jarring to see him near the bottom of a Monday Q leaderboard. He made three doubles and shot 76.

Albin Choi (pictured at the top, caddying for Sung Jae Im last season) continues his solid play on Mondays with nothing to show for it. Last week he lost in a playoff after a 66, and this week he was out of luck again despite a 67. At least next week he has a sponsor’s exemption into the Korn Ferry event. Let’s hope his strong play continues and his luck begins to turn.

 
 

The Ugly

I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard of a wilder opening hole in a playoff as the 7-for-1 on the KFT. One player was so far out of the hole he picked up, two others made double bogey and Will Grimmer was knocked out after a 360-degree lip-out.

Another KFT Monday with a player barely busting triple digits. I really hope they ban for life these guys who turn in a 99. I say it every week, but please stop playing in Mondays for the fun of it.

Parting Shot

Next week is the ultimate Monday Q day. It is sectionals for the U.S. Open. There are nine final qualifying sites across the U.S. I will be at the Springfield, Ohio, site and will have an extended Monday Musings next week. There is also a “Monday Q” on Sunday for the Palmetto Championship on Tour. The Palmetto is replacing the Canadian Open for this year. A great but busy week ahead!

 

–Ryan French

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