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Late qualifier Nick Hardy moves on to weekend at Waste Management Phoenix Open

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The more-knowledgeable golf fans at Friday’s Waste Management Phoenix Open must have known they were witnessing a little history.

Nick Hardy, an unheralded third-year pro from Northbrook, Illinois, followed up a 68 on Thursday with a 4-under 67 Friday, bringing him to 7 under headed into the weekend at TPC Scottsdale.

The 25-year-old had to fight his way into the tournament via a qualifying tournament earlier in the week. Hardy ended Friday’s first round T-16, five shots behind leader Xander Schauffele.

Though he made par on each of the final four holes of his round, Hardy heard shouts of encouragement from onlookers from the 15th hole to the 18th, as fans took notice. He had two bogeys on Thursday and none on Friday, with four birdies in Friday’s round.

Waste Management Phoenix OpenPhotos | Leaderboard | Tee times, TV info

“I envision myself having a chance on the weekend. That’s kind of what my goal was. I put myself in that position now,” Hardy said after sinking a two-foot putt for par on 18 on Friday. “It’s time to have a good Saturday round to catch up to those guys. We’re going to get some good weather, so just going to go out there and try to be aggressive but patient with my mind and my game.”

Hardy, a pro since 2018 who played on the Korn Ferry Tour last year and is a former two-time Big Ten champion, had to play a Monday qualifier that was suspended by darkness. The next morning, he birdied the 18th hole to get into the playoff, pumping his fist excitedly. That highlight made the rounds on golf social media.

Then he carded another birdie on the second playoff hole to get into the Phoenix Open. It’s Hardy’s second PGA Tour appearance this year, after he finished tied for 14th at the Sony Open in Hawaii last month.

“It was definitely a pretty crazy way to qualify for an event. I’ve been playing well as of late, so I feel like maybe Hawaii was kind of the jump start for me,” Hardy said. “I feel like I’ve had a good winter of off-season of work since the Korn Ferry season ended, and I feel like what I’ve been working on is showing on the golf course, which is great.”

Hardy knows the heartache of missing out on qualifying for Phoenix. Two years ago, he bogeyed the first playoff hole at McCormick Ranch as one of four participants and watched as the other three players earned spots.

But that didn’t come back to haunt him this time, and Hardy is in contention going into Saturday.

The last Monday qualifying player to win a PGA Tour event was Corey Connors at the Valero Texas Open in April 2019. Since 1980, there have been five golfers who got into a PGA Tour event through Monday qualifying and  went on to win that tournament.

Jeff Mitchell did it at the 1980 Phoenix Open.

Hardy was followed along the TPC Scottsdale course by his father and a small group of family, friends and a coach.

“I’ve still got to be aggressive. … I’ve got to make some moves,” Hardy said. “But the way I’m playing right now, it could happen.”

original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/02/06/pga-tour-nick-hardy-waste-management-phoenix-open-monday-qualifier/

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