Monday Musings: July 19, 2021
The weekly dive into all the Monday action
PGA Tour Monday Qualifier: Blaine, Minn.
- Justin Quiban already has two wins on the Philippines Golf Tour. Four events into this season, the sponsors of the tour pulled the plug on the rest of the season. With no place to play, Quiban and his dad decided it was best he head to the United States. Quiban moved in with a friend in California. He began playing in events such as the SoCal Open and the California State Open, where he finished T16. His dad was back in the Philippines searching out events he could play in, and they decided on the Monday qualifier for the 3M Championship. This was the first Monday qualifier he ever attempted. He made the turn at 1 under and then dunked a wedge from 82 yards for an eagle at 10. He followed that up with five birdies in the next eight holes for a closing nine of 29 and a 63 total. Monday qualifiers are made for stories like this.
- There aren’t many amateur careers as good as Norman Xiong’s. Freshman of the Year in college? Yep. Western Am? Yep. (He beat Doc Redman.) Haskins Award winner? Yeah, that too. No one expected him to struggle in the pro game, especially after his college coach, Casey Martin at Oregon, compared him to Tiger Woods. But the pro game for Xiong, like many before him, has been a rude awakening. I saw him at the Rocket Mortgage Monday qualifier and he didn’t have his name on his bag. Wild. That being said, it is great to see him get through. According to @PGATOUR (see, this is how you give credit), he chipped in for eagle on 16 and made a 20-footer for birdie on the last to get through. Hoping for a good week for him. There is zero doubt about his talent, and he’s still only 22.
- Stephen Stallings Jr. made the cut at the Barbasol Championship, played in his home state of Kentucky. On Sunday after his final round he headed to the airport and flew to Minneapolis and got to his hotel late. He played the next morning having never seen the course, and he fired a 61. The talent that plays on Mondays is just ridiculous.
- Tom Lovelady had stopped playing at the beginning of the year and was working an office job. But the itch came back and slowly so did his game. He Monday qualified in May at the Byron Nelson. Good to see him back grinding.
- This group is a perfect look into what Monday qualifiers are. A player from the Philippines who had never attempted a Monday qualifier, a former top-ranked player looking to regain form, a grinder, and a player who had some success who has “retired” and is now back. Great mix.
- Amateur Frankie Capan had a tough choice. The Minnesota Amateur and the 3M Monday qualifier fell on the same day. He chose the 3M and posted the best early score with a 65. He then waited around all day only to fall one shot short.
- Eddie Olson’s flight was canceled on Saturday, his flight on Sunday was delayed and when he finally landed there were no rental cars available. He took an Uber to the course, but the pro shop wouldn’t hold his luggage for him so he strapped it to the cart and played his practice round. We all know how this ends .. .he missed by one.
- Neil Johnson, also known as Monday Q Neil, hurt his wrist and had to WD from the Monday qualifier after making it through the pre-qualifier. With some important state opens coming up, he decided it was best to see if he could get healthy for those events. When the next start isn’t guaranteed, it’s a tough choice to make but probably the best decision.
- The chase for points and the 200th spot is very real and the consequences are damn tough. Tain Lee and Sahith Theegala missed at the 3M, and both are chasing a few more points to get into the top 200 and earn a spot at the Korn Ferry Finals. If they don’t, they’ll be headed to the first stage of Q-school. Two ends of the spectrum. I talked to Theegala at the John Deere Monday and he said he had sent his money in for Q-school. The line between playing for millions and not having status is razor thin. For these two guys it could come down to just a few points.
KFT Tour Monday Qualifier: Springfield, Mo.
- Mondays are made for stories like Ben Griffin’s. Griffin had a great college career at North Carolina and started out well as a pro in 2018, but he hit some bumps and in April he decided to stop playing. He went to work for his dad in property management. He moved from that to become a loan officer and didn’t touch a club for all of May. Slowly the itch came back, and while at work last Wednesday he registered for this Monday qualifier. On Thursday night, his grandfather, whom he was very close with, died. Griffin’s dad told him his grandfather would want him to play. He used his grandfather’s initials as his marking on his ball, then promptly hit his opening tee OB. In a Monday Q that is basically a dagger, but he was able to salvage a bogey. He then played the next 17 holes in 7 under and got through. Some former sponsors called him, and he has decided to start playing full-time again. Awesome stuff.
- Hayden Springer and his family will always be favorites of the Fire Pit Collective. The Springers are just an amazing family. Many of you know about his family’s journey, but if not here is a link to my story. Springer shot 62, including a back nine of 28. When I asked him about his last nine holes, he laughed. How good was his iron play? Of his seven birdie putts on the back nine, exactly zero came from beyond 12 feet.
- Corbin Mills played in the 2012 Masters after winning the U.S. Publinx but didn’t do much after turning pro. In 2014 he stopped playing for the most part. Last year he was back and Monday qualified into a KFT event, where he finished T22. Not bad for his first KFT event in six years. Now he has another chance after out-dueling Brinson Paolini in a six-hole playoff.
- Bobby Hudson considered giving up the game altogether in 2016 when his former Texas teammate Cody Gribble called him and asked him to caddie at the Napa event on the PGA Tour. It was supposed to be for one week, but when Gribble finished eighth, he took Hudson to the Sanderson Farms the next week … and of course they won. He has also caddied for Cole Hammer in a few events. Now he gets ready for his first KFT start since 2013 in this event.
- Poor James Nitties played with two guys who shot 97 and 94. He messaged me, and to his credit he said they were nice guys and their play didn’t really affect him. He tweeted that he beat them by a combined 53 strokes but still fell short of getting through.
- Last Friday, Monday qualifier George Kneiser was in the position of being the person who could change the cut line. If he played the last two holes in 1 over par, he would miss the cut and allow 19 other players in. He played them 1 under par and made his first KFT cut. Then he drove from Springfield, Ill., to Springfield, Mo., for this Monday qualifier, only to miss by one.
- I’m not sure I’ve seen it in a Monday, but one player made five consecutive 6’s on his way to a 97. Yikes.
- Jared Hewitt was following the KFT Monday and sending me reports, and he told me about an amazing par save Brinson Paolini made on the second playoff hole from behind a tree. Those are the kind of saves that typically end with the player getting through. In this case, Paolini lost on the sixth playoff hole. A tough way to go out.
- Golf is hard. Smylie Kaufman has been going through some well-publicized struggles. Say what you will about his game, but I have a ton of respect for Kaufman and said so much on Twitter. Of course, Twitter being Twitter, someone always pops out of the woodwork. In this case, after Kaufman shot an 87 in the first round of the Barbasol, a follower who is a self-proclaimed “washed up Division 3 golfer” wrote even he could shoot such a score. Thanks to some of the good people in golf, we are about to find out. Maybe the glare from the lights and cameras will make it a little tougher. Stay tuned.