Monday Musings: 7/5/21

A breakdown of Monday Qualifier action for the week

Monday Qualifier Alex Smalley
The silhouette of Monday qualifier Alex Smalley

PGA Tour Monday Qualifier

The Good

• Luke Gannon is the type of story Monday qualifiers are made for. His father is a preacher and since he was a kid he has done maintenance at their church in Wichita, Kan. For 11 years, including after graduation from college, he would work at the church part-time and then put in long hours on his golf game. That was the routine until recently when Luke and his wife moved to Champaign, Ill., for her job. He got through on Monday and will play in his first PGA Tour event at the John Deere Classic.

• Speaking of why I love Monday qualifiers, the four players who got through (Gannon, Alex Smalley, Eric Cole and Rodrigo Lee) have a combined six PGA Tour starts in their combined 27 seasons as tour pros.

• Maria Smalley, Alex’s mother, is one of the nicest people I have met along the Monday Q trail. She always travels with Alex and caddies for him in small events and on Mondays. She has always been so nice to me, and one of my favorite moments I’ve covered was when Alex got through the Waste Management Monday in 2019. She was caddying and Alex beat Robert Garrigus in a playoff. She and Alex hugged and cried. I was one of two fans (Ed Loar Tracker was the other), and it was a cool moment to watch.

• Bobby Cole won once on the PGA Tour and nine times on the Sunshine Tour. Laura Baugh played 23 seasons on the LPGA Tour. So it was no surprise when their son Eric Cole chose golf as his profession. It hasn’t been easy, and despite winning 53 times (really!) on the Minor League Tour, the climb to the big tour has been arduous. It was great to see him get through for his third Tour event.

• It was great to catch up with Hayden Springer. The Springer family is amazing, and no matter what happens, we will always follow the family and Hayden’s career. His 68 wasn’t good enough but I’m confident big things lie ahead. If you missed our story/video on the Springer family, here it is.

• Oakwood Country Club in Coal Valley, Ill., was another solid venue. The course was short but the greens were difficult, and the place was in top condition. There has been a steady run of storng courses for Tour Mondays.

• Steve Allan and his family continued their summer drive across the country chasing Mondays. The family lives in Arizona and Allan’s wife, Bridgette, and the couple’s three boys drive to the Monday sites. Their oldest son, Liam, is usually on the bag. When I talked to Liam about caddying for Steve at the U.S. Open last month at Torrey Pines, he lit up, saying, “It was awesome.” Just a cool family.

• I got a cart this week. Shoutout to the Iowa PGA Section and Oakwood Country Club for making that happen.

• This was our first Monday Q trip as a family, and overall it went well. Everyone is still speaking to each other after spending a day in a hotel together. We count that as a win.

• That’s two weeks in a row being on site. I am getting spoiled.

• One of my new favorite golf names was in the field this week: Peech Bunnabodee. He has to make it to the Tour.

Monday Qualifier Peech
Peech Bunnabodee; an early finalist for Name of the Year

The Bad 

• Here is some insight into the world of what it’s like not to have status. Sahith Theegala shot even par and missed by six, but that isn’t the worst part. Make one cut and have a decent finish on Tour and he will be on his way to the Korn Ferry Finals. A spot in the finals means at worst he will have a full KFT card. At best, he’ll get his Tour card. However, if he doesn’t produce one more decent finish, he is headed all the way back to the first stage of Q school. He does have a sponsor’s exemption next week at Barbasol. Still, the pressure is on.

• John Augenstein’s struggles continue: another solid round, and another miss, this time by three.

• Eric Axley hit a roping hook into the trees on the opening hole and immediately grabbed his hip. I thought for sure he was going to WD as he stretched and limped up the first hole. Instead, he shot a 66, only to wait around for a few hours and be knocked out by a late 65.

• Every time I see Ben Crane at a Monday Q, it’s startling, especially when the field at the John Deere is as weak as it is. A five-time Tour winner, Crane, 45, is grinding on the Monday Q circuit but hasn’t got through yet.

The Ugly 

• Watching players on the range warming up for a potential playoff and then looking at their phones to realize they are out is tough. Stephen Stallings Jr. and Chase Koepka have been great to me, and I am always pulling for them. Still, they were the ones making the long walk to the car after discovering they had been knocked out.

• Kyle Westmoreland has played great of late with a made cut at the U.S. Open and two solid finishes on the Forme Tour, but Monday wasn’t his day. After watching some of the golf, I came to the clubhouse and saw a bag sitting outside. It was way too early for players to be done, and when I went inside, I saw Westmoreland eating lunch with a friend. At a Monday Q, W/D’ing is pretty standard when things aren’t going well. After lunch, Westmoreland headed to the range to work on his game.

Korn Ferry Tour Monday Qualifier

The Good

• Five of the eight players to get through will make their first career KFT start: Jonathan Brightwell, Winton Munch, Christian Castillo, Mitchell Schow and Chris Korte will all tee it up in Colorado.

• For the first time in the three years I have been tracking Monday Qs, it took a 62 to get through. The players ate up the 7,250-yard, par-71 Highland Meadows layout.

• Schow, who just turned pro, had a 1-2-3-4-5 on the scorecard on his way to a 62.

• Brian Richey played in the Maine KFT event two weeks ago and didn’t touch a club or walk the course before the Monday Q. So, of course, he made nine birdies in a bogey-free 62.

• I love how Mondays have players with such diverse college backgrounds. Chandler Eaton and Jonathan Brightwell played at perennial powerhouses Duke and Oklahoma, respectively, while Winton Munch and Christian Castillo played at Hope (a D-3 school in Michigan) and High Point (N.C.).

The Bad

• Chris Yeom shot 63 and missed. I can’t comprehend how that must feel.

• Derek Oland might be the most under par of any player who has played multiple Monday Qs but has nothing to show for it. He turned in his third 65 in the last year but none have been good enough for a spot.

• It was a roller coaster of a day for the players who shot 64 at Highland Meadows. The 64s were tied for the last spot before a 63 knocked them out. Then Lorens Chan, one of the 63s, got into the field on his number, meaning his score was thrown out. That bumped all of the 64s back into a qualifying spot for about an hour, only to be knocked out again by another 62.

The Ugly

Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus was in the field at Highland Meadows. Listed as a 1.1 on GHIN, he shot 88. But that’s not the reason he appears here. I got a message from a fan who was following the group saying McManus and his caddie each had a few beers. McManus also accidentally stepped in a player’s line and talked or moved a few times during swings. I realize guys want to test their game against some of the best, but the two players McManus was paired with are doing this for a living. If you are going to play in a Monday Q, take it seriously. By all accounts, McManus was apologetic when he made a mistake. Lesson learned. 

Monday Qualifier McManus
“Mr. 88” Brandon McManus

2 thoughts on “Monday Musings, July 5, 2021”

  1. Really appreciate your great reporting ! Two of our former juniors from the Heritage Club in Wake Forest are trying to get starts, Alex Smalley and Shay Shay Bhathia. I can follow them with your great coverage , well done.

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