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'Basically an opposite-field event': Phoenix Open Monday qualifier is loaded

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“It’s basically an opposite-field event.”

Those are the words of one of the better follows on golf Twitter, acaseofthegolf1, aka Monday Q info, whose real name is Ryan French.

The guru of PGA Tour Monday qualifiers is totally right about the Waste Management Phoenix Open Monday qualifier. The event, which currently lists 157 golfers, will determine the final spots in the Phoenix Open. Many Tour events have about 75 golfers in their Monday events.

All Tour stops have four spots open for those who can survive the rigors of Monday qualifying, but those attempting to get in the Phoenix Open will have a higher bar to clear. It’s the only Tour event with only three Monday spots available.

With that many golfers and the fact that the final groups aren’t teeing off until 2:35 p.m. local time at McCormick Ranch Golf Club’s Pine Course in Scottsdale, it’ll actually spill over into Tuesday before we learn the names of those three lucky golfers.

But before we can even get to the qualifier, there were eight pre-qualifiers around the Phoenix area last week. Each of those started with 78 golfers, so the rough math means that about 800 golfers started the process of earning one of those coveted final three spots in the Phoenix Open.

That’s a huge number of golfers trying to get into a Tour event, says French, but he points out several factors led to such a high turnout. Many of the golfers in the qualifier are members of the Korn Ferry Tour. They have status that gets them right to Monday and without a KFT event last week or this week, many decided ‘Why not?’ when it came to getting in the mix. Further, countless pro golfers live in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area and so it’s an easy drive with no need to spend money on a hotel for them.

According to French’s math, there are over 6,700 career PGA Tour starts in this Monday qualifier. Taking a look at the list, several names jump out.

Aaron Baddeley

When he won the 2007 Phoenix Open, Baddeley was the first to cash a first-place check for more than $1 million at the event. This year, the Scottsdale resident finds himself in the qualifier. He’s currently 193rd on the Money List after making $39,270 and missing the cut seven of nine times this season, including the Farmers Insurance Open.

Billy Mayfair

The Phoenix native was 14-for-14 cuts made in 2020 on the PGA Tour Champions but hasn’t played a PGA Tour event since 2016. He hasn’t played the Phoenix Open since 2012.

Andy Olgetree

The low amateur at the November Masters, Ogletree is playing in the same group with Mayfair on Monday. John Augenstein, the man Ogletree out-dueled to win the 2019 U.S. Amateur, is in the Phoenix Open field on a sponsor exemption but Ogletree is looking to play his way into the field.

MJ Daffue

The South African is no stranger to Mondays. During one stretch last year, Daffue earned a spot into a tournament field in nine of 14 Monday qualifiers between the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour.

Jared du Toit

Monday qualified into the Farmers but missed the cut by two shots, so he drove over from San Diego and he’s back to Monday again this week. Ten months ago, he shot the first 59 in Outlaw Tour (Arizona mini tour) history.

Akshay Bhatia

Built great rapport with Phil Mickelson during a practice round at the American Express in La Quinta, California, two weeks ago. Bhatia skipped college, choosing instead to just turn pro out of high school. He’s made two of 11 PGA Tour cuts, both of them this season.

Ricky Barnes, Ted Purdy, Charlie Beljan

Some of the locals once again seeking to play their hometown tournament. Both Barnes and Purdy were born in Phoenix and both played at the University of Arizona. Barnes is 3-for-3 cuts made this season and posted at Top 25 the season opening Safeway Open. He last played the Phoenix Open in 2018. Purdy, who turns 48 in August, hasn’t made a Tour cut in 14 months. Beljan, who was born and lives in nearby Mesa, Arizona, famously won a PGA Tour event while battling high blood pressure, an increased heart rate and numbness in his arms after suffering what he said was an “anxiety or panic attack that kind of spun out of control” after 36 holes at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in 2012.

Other notables

Some more recognizable names teeing it up on Monday: Rob Oppenheim, Seamus Power, Matt Every, Sam Triplett, Parker McLachlin, Alex Cejka, Michael Allen, Sangmoon Bae, JJ Spaun, Robert Garrigus, Anirban Lahiri, Grayson Murray, Justin Suh, Sahith Theegala and Joseph Bramlett.

One name that was on the list but will be taken off is Peter Malnati, who withdrew from the Monday qualifier. He finished 7 under, good for a tie for 10th.

Corey Conners was the last player to qualify on Monday and hoist the trophy on Sunday when he did so at the 2019 Valero Texas Open.

original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/02/01/phoenix-open-monday-qualifier-loaded/

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