By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Only a few years ago Matt McQuillan was out of golf and tending bar, his dream of playing golf for a living appearing to be dead.
“I wasn't playing well and was running out of money, and just wasn't having really much fun at all with the game,” McQuillan said. “I took two years off and worked locally in my hometown, and after about a year working I realized golf wasn't too bad.”
That prompted the Canadian to qualify once again for the Canadian Tour, play the eGolf Tour in 2009 and ‘10 and eventually take what he calls a “shot in the dark” at q school, where he tied for 16th with a final-round 66 to earn a PGA TOUR card for this season.
In McQuillan’s first start of the year he tied for 54th at the Sony Open in Hawaii -- and he hasn’t made a cut since.
Fast forward to Thursday, however, and McQuillan has a share of the lead after a 64.
“I've been struggling all year, and I've been trying to grind it out, and I figured trying to start a tournament where it's just free‑wheeling, don't really care what happens, and it worked out today,” he said.
The reason it did? McQuillan drove it well -- he hit 71 percent of his fairways -- and was sharp with his irons -- he hit 83 percent of his greens in regulation -- on his way to seven birdies, an eagle and just two bogeys.
Needless to say, McQuillan’s time out of golf was humbling and that’s what is pushing him now.
“It's very difficult, and to stay positive and patient has been the key for me,” McQuillan said. “I'm out here playing with the best players in the world, and on the best golf courses in the world. So it's very tough to stay positive and patient. But I just figure I'm out here, I qualified to get out here, so trying to have fun and make some birdies.”