On May 5th I decided to play in a pre-qualifier for the Byron Nelson (upcoming PGA Tour event). This was the first qualifying tournament I have played since turning pro and it was held at Texas Star just outside of Dallas, TX. To briefly break down how the qualifying process works. there were two “pre-qualifying” sites. One at Texas Star and the other at The Bridges at Firewheel. At each site, there were 153 players from which the top 19 and ties would move on after 18 holes to the Monday qualifier on May 10th. At the Monday Q, you have the roughly 38 players who pre-qualified along with players who were already exempt into the field based on their professional status (if they have earned a spot on the Korn Ferry Tour or PGA Tour already). All of those players will play 18 holes and the top 4 finishers will get to play in the Byron Nelson later that week. Pretty cool stuff!
I was very excited to tee it up knowing that I could get my first PGA Tour start next week and all I had to do was play some good golf to get it. Good golf meaning beat at least 134 players on May 5th and then another 79 players (all of which have either pre-qualified or have current status on the Korn Ferry or PGA Tour) on May 10th. Easy right? Probably not. Although my odds of making it into the PGA event were slim, I was totally ready to play and give it my best shot. The odds have been against me ever since the dream of professional golf came into my mind and I began acting upon it as a 13-year-old kid and I have made it this far so I feel like I have beaten the odds already!
My girlfriend traveled up to Dallas with me for a fun trip together and to be my caddie at the event. There were some details regarding hotel check-out times and our travel schedule that started to stress me out as I was warming up, so, to help me relax, she was so sweet and decided to hang back taking care of all the details while I played. I truly appreciate the support and encouragement she gives me as I work on this dream.
I started the round on #10 with a snap hook driver straight into the trees. Thankfully it kicked out and with some recovery play I was able to find the green in regulation and 3 putt for an easy bogey… My first 9 was a roller coaster of bogeys and birdies as I tried to find a groove and establish some momentum. My lack of practice was evident and I was not putting myself in a position to shoot a good score. As the round continued, I was able to pull my game together just enough to make a run of birdies on my last nine but it was way too late and I was out of holes. Unfortunately, my performance on the golf course was not strong enough to finish within the top 19 and move on to play the Monday Q.
(Needed to shoot at least 1 under par to qualify)
As I move on from this experience, I feel very motivated in my journey. It was so cool to play in a qualifying-style tournament against amazing competition with the chance to play a PGA Tour event on the line. The event gave me great feedback on where my game is, where it needs to be better, and how it compares to the players who qualified and are playing at the next level of pro golf. My performance was weak, which was disappointing, but I have to be realistic and remember that my preparation was very limited heading into this event. I have not been able to put in the hours of practice that I would like because of my work schedule. As the weather is getting warmer and the courses are green, people are out playing more golf and I have been caddying A LOT! I am thankful to be making money and learning more about the game from caddying, but it does take away time and energy that could be put into my own game and preparation for tournaments. I am working hard to figure out the correct balance for this part of my journey.
As always I am thankful to God for taking care of me and blessing me with so much opportunity to play this game and chase my dream. In some way, I would like to use my journey in this game to be a light and inspire others to take a step of faith as they pursue a dream that scares them. At the moment, I have not planned my next event. I would love to compete, but I would like to spend some time practicing before the next time I compete so that my game is in sharper form and ready to play instead of spending a lot of money and trying to perform at the highest level on little preparation. I will continue to work as hard as I can and learn as much as I can to master this craft, but I am certainly enjoying my journey along the way!