Monday qualifiers: Corales Puntacana Championship
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RIDGELAND, SOUTH CAROLINA - JUNE 12: Bryson Nimmer plays his shot from the 18th tee during the third round of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree on June 12, 2021 in Ridgeland, South Carolina. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Written by Will Doctor @DrMedia59
Qualifiers: Rick Lamb, Bryson Nimmer, Michael Balcar, Brian Davis
The qualifier for the Corales Puntacana Championship ended in a 6-for-1 playoff at the International Links of Miami on March 7.
Two-time DP World Tour winner Brian Davis, who finished T6 at the 2003 Open Championship, was the playoff victor and will make his 374th PGA TOUR start this week at Corales Golf Course in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Rick Lamb, Michael Balcar and Bryson Nimmer shared medalist honors at 4-under 67.
Lamb, who finished T30 at The Honda Classic after Monday qualifying for the event, had six circles on his scorecard including a clutch birdie on the 17th hole.
The odds were stacked against Balcar after playing the front nine at 1-over which included a nasty double bogey on the par-4 sixth hole.
“I stayed focused on taking one shot at a time,” Balcar told PGA TOUR Digital. You never know what can happen. Standing on the 10th tee, I told myself I was still in it.”
Balcar’s positive self-talk paid dividends. After making the turn in troubled water, he went on a five-hole birdie run from holes 12-16 to qualify for his first PGA TOUR event.
It’s phenomenal timing for the 29-year-old Cleveland State alum, who took a job as an assistant club professional at Brandywine Country Club in Toledo, Ohio once the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the United States. He worked 40 hours a week while traveling to impromptu TOUR RED events in Chicago and Ohio to keep his dream alive.
Justin Crotin, Balcar’s caddie and best friend, played an essential role in helping Balcar handle stressful weeks of balancing work and professional golf. Balcar would drive from Toledo to Cleveland to pick up Crotin, and the pair would drive to Chicago for a TOUR RED event contested on a Tuesday.
“He would help me drive so I could rest and be able to go to work on Wednesday,” Balcar said. “Shout-out to Matt Urban, the director of golf at Brandywine Country Club for allowing me to take Mondays and Tuesdays off when we didn’t have an event to work those days.”
TOUR RED was an improvised professional tour created to provide convenient and affordable opportunities with decent payouts during the pandemic. Balcar finished first on TOUR RED’s end-of-season money list.
It had been more than two years since Balcar finished third at the 2018 PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Qualifying Tournament, shooting 10-under 62 in the final round to secure his card for the season. He carried a heavy heart that week as it was his first competition since his grandfather’s passing.
He did not retain his card for the 2019 PGA TOUR Latinoamerica season and has since been playing on various mini-tours, Ohio PGA section events, and Korn Ferry Tour qualifiers. He feels like he took his game to the next level during his successful stretch on TOUR RED.
Balcar credits his new swing coach Patrick Foppe and Orlando-based hypnotherapist Rebecca Zayas for the improvements in his game.
“It’s been a long process and it’s taken a village of people to help me get to this point,” Balcar said. “I couldn’t be more thankful for the people in my life supporting me.”
Rick Lamb (4-under 67)
College: University of Tennessee
Turned pro: 2014
PGA TOUR starts: 31
Cuts made: 11
Notes: Will make his second start of the 2021-22 PGA TOUR season … Finished T30 after Monday qualifying for The Honda Classic ... Currently holds past champion status on the Korn Ferry Tour … Career-changing victory came at the 2016 LECOM Health Challenge after Monday qualifying into event … Played on PGA TOUR in 2016-17 and 2017-18, with best result coming at the 2017 John Deere Classic (T3) … Best finish on the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour was T8 at the Wichita Open … Finished 46th at the 2021 U.S. Open … Won 2015 Florida Championship on the West Florida Tour … Was an All-American in 2013 for the University of Tennessee … Finished runner-up at the 2013 NCAA Championship as a senior … Stands No. 845 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Michael Balcar (4-under 67)
College: Cleveland State University
Turned pro: 2016
PGA TOUR starts: 0
Notes: Will make his PGA TOUR debut this week … Finished 10th in the PGA Assistants Championship, third at the Denny Shute Match Play Championship and won the Assistants Championship on the 2021 Northern Ohio PGA circuit ... Won two Northern Ohio PGA section tournaments in 2020 … Was Player of the Year and topped the TOUR RED money list … Finished third at the 2018 PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Qualifying Tournament in Mexico … Played nine events on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica that year with best finish coming at the Quito Open presented by Diners Club … Played three years of collegiate golf at Cleveland State University … Was named to 2013-14 All-Horizon League first team … Earned same distinction in 2012-13 as a sophomore … Qualified for the 114th U.S. Amateur Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club … Won four events as a senior in high school to earn first team all-district and all-city honors.
Bryson Nimmer (4-under 67)
College: Clemson University
Turned pro: 2019
PGA TOUR starts: 6
Made cuts: 4
Notes: Will make second start of the 2021-22 season … Finished 69th at the Puerto Rico Open … Has played one event on the Korn Ferry Tour this year (missed cut at the LECOM Suncoast Classic) … Played three events on the 2020-21 PGA TOUR, making two cuts … Finished T35 at the 2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree … Played three events on the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour with best finish coming at the Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation … Finished T46 at the 2020 Shell Open on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica … Made five cuts in six starts with two wins on the 2020 LOCALiQ Series (Alpharetta Classic and The Championship at Echelon Golf Club) … Made eight cuts in eight starts on the 2021 Forme Tour, with best finish coming at Auburn University at Jennings Mills Country Club (T3) … Finished T47 at the 2019 Puerto Rico Open … Was a three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team selection at Clemson… Was ACC Freshman of the Year … Holds 27 different Clemson golf records … Stands No. 810 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Brian Davis (3-under 68; advanced via 6-for-1 playoff)
Turned pro: 1994
PGA TOUR starts: 373
Cuts made: 219
Notes: Will make his second of the 2021-22 PGA TOUR season … Played first six seasons of his career on the DP World Tour … Won the 2000 Peugeot Open de Espana … Finished ninth on the 2003 DP World Tour Order of Merit … Best result of the 2003 season came at the Open Championship (T6) … Played on the winning Great Britain and Ireland team at the 2003 Seve Trophy … Second DP World Tour win came at the 2004 ANZ Championship … Became the first Englishman to earn medalist honors at the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament in 2004 … Started to focus more on the PGA TOUR in 2006 … Finished inside the top-100 on the FedExCup standings for seven consecutive seasons (2007 to 2013) … Finished second at the 2007 FedEx St. Jude Classic … Had one of his best seasons on the PGA TOUR in 2009, finishing fifth at THE PLAYERS Championship and Valero Texas Open … Finished second at the 2010 RBC Heritage after calling a two-stroke penalty on himself on the first playoff hole against Jim Furyk … Finished T13 at the 2004 PGA Championship… Was ranked as high as No. 45 on the Official World Golf Ranking (2004) … Won the 1992 Peter McEvoy Trophy as an amateur.
Notables to miss qualifying: Patrick Flavin (later received sponsor exemption), Jared du Toit, Andres Romero, Zack Sucher, Ben Silverman, Erik Compton, Mickey DeMorat, Nicholas Thompson, Marcelo Rozo, Alejandro Tosti
2021-22 Monday qualifier statistics
Top-25s: Martin Contini (T16, The Honda Classic); Grant Hirschman (T17, Sanderson Farms Championship); Patrick Flavin (T17, Butterfield Bermuda Championship); Patrick Flavin (T22, Puerto Rico Open)
Best finish: Martin Contini (T16, The Honda Classic)
Most times qualified (2): Kyle Wilshire, Ben Silverman, Patrick Flavin, Rick Lamb
Last event’s qualifier results (Valspar Championship): Blake Kennedy (72nd), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (T39), Andrew McCain (MC), Luke Guthrie (MC)
Next PGA TOUR qualifier (March 28): Valero Texas Open qualifier; The Club at Comanche Trace (Hills/Creek) in Kerrville, Texas