Monday qualifying for a PGA Tour event is one of the most difficult tasks in all of golf, as it typically requires a low score on an unfamiliar course to earn one of four spots in a field of often more than 100 players.
Never mind trying to do it fresh off a red eye from the West Coast after playing in your first U.S. Open.
Chip McDaniel’s wild, 18-hour odyssey to this week’s Travelers Championship began when he finished his final round at Pebble Beach—the 23-year-old former University of Kentucky standout had to survive sectional qualifying in Springfield, Ohio, just to earn a spot in the field there—around 11:45 a.m. on Sunday, closing with a six-over 77 to end his week at 13 over and in 78th place.
That’s when the adventure started.
From there, McDaniel took a 2 p.m. shuttle that got him to the airport in San Francisco 2 1/2 hours away in plenty of time for his 9 p.m. overnight flight to Boston. After landing, McDaniel and his caddie, Wildcats teammate Jacob Cook, hopped in a rental car and headed 90 minutes south to Ellington Ridge Country Club for the Monday qualifier, stopping at a McDonald’s for breakfast along the way.
“It was a pretty wild day,” McDaniel told Golf Digest. “I slept pretty much the entire five-hour flight but, man, I was still loopy when I got there.”
Not that it showed. McDaniel, who doesn’t have status on any tour and is ranked 805th in the world, piped his opening tee shot, birdied the first hole and went on to shoot 67.
His reward? A nine-for-three playoff.
No problem. After being one of five players to birdie the first extra hole to stay alive, he parred each of the next two, which was good enough to nab one of the three remaining spots for a spot in the field at TPC River Highlands.
It also marked the third time this year that McDaniel has successfully Monday qualified for a tour event, the other two coming at the Wells Fargo Championship and the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, where he went on to tie for fifth for his best finish in five starts in 2019.