From living in his car to the Korn Ferry Tour, Michael Sweeney earns his moment
3 Min Read
Up-and-coming rapper secures spot in HomeTown Lenders Championship via Monday qualifier
Written by Jay Coffin @PGATOUR
Michael Sweeney’s positive attitude is infectious. Sure, he has plenty of bad days, but even after the events of the past few years, nothing seems to get him down.
Michael Sweeney lived in car to pursue professional golf dreams
Sweeney is from Enfield, Connecticut, and moved to Florida five years ago to pursue his dream of playing on the PGA TOUR. He was “really bad” back then, he said Tuesday. The deal was that he could stay with his father and his father’s girlfriend while chasing a professional golf career, but when he turned 25, he would have to go out on his own.
Well, two years ago, he turned 25, left the house and lived out of his car for a four-month stretch. He didn’t have much money and wanted to spend what he did have on golf, not on rent. He still doesn’t have an address, and on Thursday, he’ll be playing in his first Korn Ferry Tour event, the HomeTown Lenders Championship at The Ledges in Huntsville, Alabama. Sweeney advanced out of a 5-for-2 playoff in the Monday qualifier after making eagle on the last hole of regulation just to get into that playoff.
“I’m capable of doing just about anything I want to do and having a positive attitude toward it,” Sweeney said Tuesday. “Because if you can stay positive doing that (living out of a car), then you can stay positive doing just about anything.”
Sweeney’s parking lot of choice was Walmart. “My whole life was in the backseat and here we are,” he said.
“I either have to pay to play golf or for a place to live. I couldn't really afford to do both.”
Here he is indeed. Sweeney is off to PGA TOUR Canada later this summer, and this was his last opportunity to attempt qualifying for a Korn Ferry Tour event. On Monday at Huntsville Country Club, he made three birdies in the first seven holes, then made a bogey on the eighth and turned in 3-under 33. He birdied the 11th and 15th holes and attempted to drive the green on the par-4 finishing hole but found a greenside bunker. He holed that bunker shot for an eagle to shoot 64. A par on the second playoff hole was enough to advance.
“Golf is such a wave of emotions,” Sweeney said. “You’ll have so many ups and so many downs, just try to ride the ups and stay positive during the downs.”
There’s still much more to Sweeney’s story. He works in the cart barn at The Florida Club in Stuart, Florida, and the club provides him with complimentary range time. He also loves to rap, having first tried it back in Connecticut in a friend’s makeshift recording studio. He was instantly hooked and has since joined with his buddy, who goes by Mackel, to make music. Together they have three albums on Spotify.
None of that matters in the here and now. Sweeney has his best professional golf opportunity in front of him at the HomeTown Lenders Championship. He knows he has what it takes to compete. You don’t shoot 64 in a qualifier without talent. But no matter how it goes this week in Alabama, his positive attitude will continue to be an asset.
“Go have fun, enjoy the experience,” he said. “I know that regardless of whether I play well or bad, there are a lot of people that love me and support me.”
Jay Coffin is a freelance journalist in Orlando, Florida, who has had stints at Golfweek, GolfChannel.com and Golf Digest during his 25 years in the golf industry. He has covered more than 40 major championships and has traveled to 13 different countries Follow Jay Coffin on Twitter.