At what point did you think becoming a pro golfer was a realistic goal?
In 2006 I got into the US Am with Anthony Kim, that was pretty sweet and I thought maybe I am pretty good. Prior to that I knew I was pretty good in my area, but I really didn’t have any idea outside of that. I was 18 and I really wasn’t playing any big national junior tournaments or things that coaches would be interested in. I think it was before I had signed with UNF so I wasn’t even sure where I was going to play college golf at that time.
When you turned pro did you have an idea of what pro golf was like and know what a grind it was?
You don’t really have an idea of what to expect, you do know now that this is your job. In college you did golf, but also had to work at school. Now it was all golf and presumably you would hope you would get better as now this was your sole focus.
Was the hardest adjustment on the course or off dealing with all the things that come along with pro golf?
In college everything is done for you, so that part took some time to get used to. In college you get driven to the events, your meals are paid for, hotels paid for, you aren’t paying to play in these events. The courses you are playing in college are elite and now all of a sudden your shelling out $300, $500, $800, $1000 to play some crappy golf courses at times. You get spoiled a little in college, I mean we played Isleworth my last couple years of college, getting awesome tee gifts, it’s a different world. Now it's like here is your scorecard, here is your pin sheet, do you have that $800?, ok sweet, go tee it up.
Is there a particular moment that is like “welcome to pro golf moment” or does it happen over time?
My first year I got to finals, I get thru pre and 1st stage without much stress. I get to 2nd and I don’t even really know what getting thru there means, as far as status. I make an 8 on my 7th hole of the last round, then I play 4 under on the back 9 and sneak in on the number. My buddy says to me, "well now you have status" and I’m thinking wow that’s fricken sweet. I then go out to finals which was at La Quinta and shoot even, finish 115th and realize I am not NEARLY as good as these guys.
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Is that moment a good thing, from standpoint it gives you an idea of what you need to work on or is it demoralizing from standpoint of your not as close as you thought?
I think a little bit of both. It's great in my first year I got all the way to final stage, but when I got there I wasn’t really as close as I thought. Also I took at is a positive from standpoint had I made it thru I was going to play an entire season against players that were clearly better than me. If I had gotten status out there that year I would have gotten my brains beat in. But that was also my worst year from standpoint I had such low status, I was out chasing Mondays, playing once a week. I wasn't able to make my own schedule. You’re playing not great golf courses with players that after the first couple weeks are pretty sour and tired of chasing Monday’s. Its not a great situation unless your Chip McDaniel or TJ Vogel.
Now that you’re a veteran where do you grab your motivation from for these 1 or 2 day events?
I really try to treat them the same as any event, I am going to go out there and try to make the least amount of bogeys that I can and make as many birdies as I can. If the check I win is $2100 that’s what it is, if its 10K then great. Reality is they are not the same but you have to try your best to treat them as such.
When you miss at Q school like you did this year do you assess where your game is and whether to keep going or doesn’t that enter your thoughts?
I really haven’t gotten to that point at all. But you do get there and don’t get thru again and you start to wonder, ok why didn’t I get thru? And for me its pretty clearly distance. I don’t hit the ball far enough. I look at is as a blessing, because I know that is where I need to get better and out on the KFT tour is not the place to do that. So I can take this year and work on it. Instead of going to final maybe getting dicey status and not being able to make my own schedule. Now I can make my own schedule and work on the things I need to at my own pace.
What does the term “Mini-Tour legend” mean to you, is it derogatory or do you take it that you have proven that you have been able to have sustained success?
Originally I was like that’s sweet, that’s a really sweet way to look at it, then I was like dang, if you continue to hang out on mini tours and you’re the best one, and people are saying you’re the best one…why are you still there? Are you beating the players that are just staying there. But at the end of the day I win a lot out there and that’s pretty sweet.
Do you think about doing something different outside staying in FL, maybe get out of your comfort zone just to change it up?
Yeah couple years ago people said Canada would be great for me, went up there Monday’d into first event, Monday’d into the next event. Next thing I know I’ve played in 9 events, made $1700 and burned thru and I’ve burned thru a boat load of cash. And I’m worried about how I am going to play golf because I’m running out of money. For right now it just makes the most sense for me to be able to drive to most events. Here when I make $2100 I’m not taking $1500 of it for expenses, I’m taking maybe 3 or 4 hundred. Here if its within an hour and half I’ll drive back and forth to save money. I have a buddy from college I stay with, Chris Kennedy,
Do you have to make your schedule based first on financial decisions, is that forefront in your mind?
It's definitely part of it. I mean some of those events when you pay $1,000 entry fee and you have to stay in a hotel for the week. I mean you're $1500 in the hole before you hit a shot. You have to look at the field and check things out to make sure you know what your getting into.