(Photo courtesy of Luke Swilor)
Canadian Tour player Luke Swilor begins his second PGA Tour Q School run tomorrow with Stage 1 at Dayton Valley Country Club in Dayton, Nevada. Follow along as Luke provides his diary entries.
Stage 1 Eve
It’s that time of year again. Make or break. Last year was my first year of Tour School. I played solid golf, eight straight rounds of par-or-better golf, but ended up missing the number by one at first stage.
This year, I go into the tournament in a bit of a slump (similar to last year, actually). After finishing up on the Canadian Tour, I just don’t think I’ve played enough golf. Scoring has become more difficult than it usually is for me, and my results have shown that. I’ve been working hard, though, and I’m looking forward to a good week.
The course (Dayton Valley CC) fits me well. The elevation and turf are the same as Salt Lake, so there is no adjustment to be made. The greens are hard and fast, just how I like it. They’re pure, too. Hit a good putt and it goes in. No worries. My putting stroke is always a little smoother when the greens are this good.
I played very good in practice round number one. Much better than I’ve been playing. I had control of the ball, something that’s been missing. So far so good.
Tour School brings out some strange feelings in the best of us. We’ll see about this year, but I was shocked with the amount of pressure I felt last year. It sneaks up on you, too. Starting with the “Pre-qualifier,” I felt fine all week…until the night before the first round. The magnitude of the tournament came up on me out of the blue. It got hard to sleep. By the time I got to the first tee, it was a shake-a-thon. The pressure kept ramping up all the way through the final putt of the fourth round. I made it through, and I only had 14 more rounds to go. Wow.
The first stage was very similar. Same tournament eve blast of emotions, same first tee jitters. The only difference is that I was coming from behind the last day instead of trying to hold my position. Still, the world was on my shoulders, and it was a serious grind until the last putt. My twenty-foot birdie putt on the last hole was good enough to fall one man short of advancing. ONE MAN. One missed shot from just one of the six guys who finished one in front of me, and I’m in.
Crushing, really, but a few less mistakes from me and I advance (okay, one less mistake).
How will I feel this year?
I don’t know. The stakes are the same. Sure, I’ve been here before, but I haven’t been back again. This year I know what it’s all about. But is that a blessing or a curse? I tend to think that the experience will dull the emotions, especially early on in the week. In my eyes it’s definitely good to have one try under my belt, but I haven’t been here a second time, so we will have to see.
One thing I am sure of is that I am extremely excited, and extremely motivated. Golf tends to turn around very quickly, often at unexpected times. I’m looking forward to a turnaround this week. Everything will change if I get hot now.
More Luke Swilor:
Q School Preview
My May interview with Luke
Luke on the Canadian Tour
His blog, Luke Swilor's Road to the Tour