The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from qualifiers around the golf world
Welcome to my weekly column rounding up the action at Monday qualifiers across the golf world. The journey continues….
- When the pressure was on, Tain Lee delivered. After finishing 14th at Congaree two weeks ago he knew he had a very real shot to earn a spot in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals if he could have another good result. It’s impressive to Monday qualify three times in one year, as Lee already had. But to do it for a fourth time, as he did at the Rocket Mortgage Classic qualifier, knowing that one more week could change his career forever… that’s big-time. On the first playoff hole Lee hit a wedge to 6 inches to get through. Really great stuff. (Another shameless plug to read my full article on him here.)
- Shoutout to Tain’s dad Spencer for caddying last Monday at Travelers Monday Q (Tain missed), then caddying four days in Georgia on the Forme Tour, and then again in the Monday qualifier this week. At age 66 that is impressive.
- Connor Arendell was the medalist and I didn’t even tweet about him. The officials were scrambling to get the 9-for-3 playoff ready and there was also a rules question going on and so I didn’t get to focus on Arendell until the playoff was about to begin. It will be Connor’s fourth Tour event but first since the 2019 U.S. Open.
- I have heard about it happening but had never actually seen a player get into the event in the middle of a playoff at the Monday Q. That finally changed when I was talking with Ben Martin on the way to the playoff hole and he learned he had just moved up to first alternate. He was in the second group of the playoff and just as Martin was hitting his approach to 3 feet his father texted me to say Ben had just gotten into the Rocket Mortgage field on his number. I ran over to the officials to confirm, which they did. When Martin was told the news he just picked up his ball and headed for the clubhouse with a Thursday tee time secure. The eight remaining players continued to play for the three spots. It was a very unusual thing to see in the wild.
- Robert Garrigus is…shall we say…outspoken, and that’s great from the fan’s perspective. I followed his group for the first few holes and they were behind notoriously slow Ben Crane. On the second tee there was a wait and Garrigus said, loud enough to be heard by everyone nearby, “It only took us one hole to have Crane slow us down.”
- Justin Suh finally ended the eight-hole playoff by making a 10-footer for birdie on the par-5 18th. Suh doesn’t have any status but still donated half his check from the Farmers Open to charity.
- Fans! It was so great to see people out enjoying the Monday Q lyfe. There were even people with folding chairs. One of the spectators just plopped it down right in the middle of the fairway on the first playoff hole as players were hitting their approaches. I bet there were maybe 50 to 75 fans throughout the day.
- Another very solid golf course. Katke-Cousines Golf Course at Oakland University, in Rochester Hills, Mich., won’t be holding a Tour event anytime soon, but it was a really solid test and in great shape. It’s nice to see Monday qualifiers where you don’t have to shoot 64 to get through. Despite almost perfect scoring conditions the course stood up to the test with 66 making the playoff.
- To succeed as a pro golfer takes a lot of support. There aren’t many better examples of that than Beau Breault and his fiancé Hailey. Hailey worked the overnight shift at an area hospital and then came directly over to the course to caddie for Beau. By the time Beau fell out of the playoff on the 7th hole, Hailey hadn’t slept in over a day.
- Daniel Wetterich’s shot on the fourth playoff hole was impressive. The hole is an uphill 580-yard par-5 and Wetterich hit his second from around 250 yards out to 10 feet and made eagle to get through. A nice but controlled fist-pump punctuated the make.
- Brett White didn’t get through but his story is worth sharing again. A little over three years ago White came down with a rare brain infection that threatened his life. He was able to survive and months of rehab followed where he learned to walk and talk again. Since his recovery he has won the Nevada and Michigan Opens, along with other developmental tour events. Brett and I have talked multiple times but we met for the first time on Monday. He is an easy guy to root for.
- Caddies can be sparse at Monday qualifiers. Scott Sparks, on the bag for Wes Homan, was the only looper in his threesome. Scott Sparks. On the 16th hole, Homan and and Danny Walker were both were in the bunker and Sparks had to rake a good portion of the sand. Monday Q caddie lyfe to the max. Speaking of Sparks and Homan, they reunite each year for this Monday qualifier. Homan used to play professionally but with three kids he stopped playing for a “real” job. This is usually the only Monday qualifier he plays in all year. Sparks volunteered to caddie for him at the 2019 Rocket Monday qualifier and they made it through and went to the event and made the cut. Last year Homan and Sparks lost in the Monday qualifier playoff. This year they shot two-under and missed the playoff by three. Pretty cool little story of friends reuniting once a year.
- Although he lost later in the playoff, the absolute bomb Alex Scott made on the fourth playoff hole was damn impressive. Scott was the only player of the six remaining not to reach the par-5 in two. His pitch hit the pin, but it was coming in very hot and ended up about 35 feet away. He was the first to putt and he drained it for birdie to remain in the playoff. Did I mention it was a 9-for-3? Enough said.
- I love being on site. It gives me great content, and, quite frankly, this article is a breeze to write since I saw so much play and talked with the players as anything worth noting happened.
- Katke Golf Course has very unique pushcarts. They had mud tires and I have no idea why… It was HOT and there were some caddies struggling. One was so beat he just finally sat down in the grass on the 18th hole.
- The local PGA section would not let me have a cart. They told me I needed to register with the section as a media member. I can remember when there weren’t any other reporters at Monday qualifiers except for me.
- Wes Roach missed a 5-footer for par on the first playoff hole to miss qualifying. It must feel like a wasted day with a quick exit like that.
- The three-putts by Ben Cook and Beau Breault on the 7th playoff hole were a tough way to go out. The 17th at Katke Golf Course is a very tough green and if you get on the wrong side of the hole it can be really difficult. Both Breault and Cook played decent approaches but left the ball on the wrong side of the hole. They both ran their birdie putts five feet past the hole and both lipped out the come backers for par. Going out with a three-putt will sting for a while after playing 23 solid holes.
- I made a drastic error and wore rain pants instead of shorts. The forecast had called for rain, but it turned out to be almost 90 degrees and humid. This is a terrible combo for rain pants and I paid for it.
- There was a LONG rulings debate that went against M.J. Daffue. So long it will need it’s own article later this week. The ruling involved ants and prevented Daffue the chance to be in the playoff.
- I felt terrible for Jay McLuen. He shot 67, played eight playoff holes without a bogey, and still lost. Jay’s story is amazing. In 2017, he was sitting on his couch, with no prior health issues, when his heart stopped. He was revived twice that day and somehow survived. Three years later he and his wife Reye were working under a brush hog when it fell and pinned them both. Their seven year-old daughter Miller ran and got the neighbor who brought his tractor to lift it off of them both. Reye had stopped breathing and the neighbor, along with help from Jay, revived her by giving her CPR. It’s truly an incredible story and it was tough to see him not move on after he and his family had been through so much. When McLuen, who was playing with Suh, approached the green of the 8th playoff hole the horn was blown. The official picked up Jay in a golf cart but was driving too fast and McLuen’s pushcart flipped over. There were clubs and water bottles everywhere. And the cherry on top of a tough day was that the delay caused McLuen to miss his flight home that night. Pro golf ain’t easy at times.
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