If you’ve ever broken par for 18 holes before, the thought has probably crept in your head that you could play professional golf.
The truth is that tournament golf is a completely different animal that a round at a familiar course with your buddies all rooting you on to beat Old Man Par.
For an Indiana PGA professional, he learned that lesson in brutal fashion over the last two days at the Web.com Tour’s United Leasing Championship.
Michael Bembenick, 27, earned a spot in the tournament by virtue of being selected to compete by the Indiana PGA section. He opened with 17-over 89 at Victoria National Golf Club to finish last among the players in the field on Thursday. On Friday, he shot higher still, posting 31-over 103. For the two days, he posted 48-over 192.
Good on Bembenick for finishing. He earned that spot in the field, but could have easily withdrawn to avoid posting a triple-digit number.
Believe it or not, however, that is not even close to the worst 18-hole score ever shot in a professional golf event. Official records aren’t kept by the major tours, but there are at least two players who are known to have shot worse.
In the 1974 Tallahassee Open, Mike Reasor made the 36-hole cut at 144. After second-round play, Reasor went horseback riding. The horse, spooked by something, ran Reasor into a tree, leaving him with a torn rib cartilage, damaged knee ligaments, separated left shoulder. Having to play the weekend swinging the club with one arm and choosing to swing just a 5-iron, Reasor shot 51-over 123 in the third round and a final-round 114 to close the tournament.
Reasor finished the tournament because, at the time, most players were not exempt from one week to the next on the PGA Tour, but if he finished the tournament, he would earn an exemption into the Byron Nelson Classic the next week. He finished the tournament, but had to withdraw from the Nelson anyhow.
In the slightly-more-able-bodied division, a former Ryder Cup captain posted a triple-digit score on the European Tour.
The scoring conditions were brutal in the 1978 Italian Open, and no one in the field was immune from high numbers. Mark James, however, had the highest number. After opening with a respectable 73, he shot 111 in the second round – the worst score by a dozen shots.
That, too, was a one-armed effort but not because of a horse-riding accident. Fined weeks prior by the European Tour for pulling out of a tournament, James played using just one arm on the club to prove a point. Even still, James beat four players in missing the cut!
That guy went on to play in seven Ryder Cups and captain the 1999 team. It can happen to anyone.
As for the highest score this year, Maurice Allen owns that mark, shooting 115 in the Dominican Republican Open on PGA Tour Latinoamerica.