Naegel joins Golf's Next Wave to discuss unlikely road to U.S. Open
June 13, 2018
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- June 13, 2018
- Chris Naegel was in the process of lining up a job in commercial real estate before his top-10 in Nashville last month. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Editor's note: Golf's Next Wave is the official podcast of the Web.com Tour, where digital content producer Kevin Prise provides a colorful window into the lives of golf's rising stars, visiting with players as they navigate the challenging-yet-rewarding path toward the PGA TOUR.
Click here for the Golf's Next Wave episode archive, and to subscribe to the podcast.
Late last month, Chris Naegel was on the verge of leaving the life of professional golfer.
Frustrated with the nomadic lifestyle of the gig, especially with conditional Web.com Tour status that meant he had no idea where he might be each week, the Missourian was in the process of lining up a job in commercial real estate.
The script flipped when he stopped at the Monday qualifier for the Nashville Golf Open Benefitting the Snedeker Foundation – only because it was conveniently located on the way home from Greenville, South Carolina, to St. Louis, after missing the cut at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, in what looked to be his final guaranteed start of the season.
Naegel shot 64 to earn a spot in the field at Nashville Golf & Athletic Club, then finished T7 to move up in the reshuffle and earn week-to-week certainty for the remainder of the season.
After finishing T43 at the following week’s Rex Hospital Open, he competed in a 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier, playing his final five holes in 4 under to enter a playoff, going on to earn a spot this week at Shinnecock Hills.
From the verge of commercial real estate, to a tee time Thursday at one of the country’s most historic venues, competing for a national championship? For the 35-year-old, it has been quite the ride.
“I went from quitting the game, to where I haven’t had this much fun playing in probably three or four years,” said Naegel, who didn’t take up the game until age 16. “I was kind of just fed up with the whole deal, the whole process.
“I didn’t have guaranteed starts; I was like, 'I’m not even sure I want to play anymore. I’d rather do something different, where I know where I’m going to be and what I’m going to be doing.'
“I only played Nashville because I had signed up for the qualifier and had already arranged everything. I was like, ‘I’ll go do that on my way home.’ I shoot 64, get into the event and top-10.”
Following a weather-shortened practice round Wednesday afternoon at Shinnecock Hills, Naegel joined this week’s edition of Golf’s Next Wave.
Among the topics discussed …
• Preparing for this week’s U.S. Open test: “No. 9 is a beast. 485, straight up the mountain.”
• His practice-round partners: “It was like a Web.com Tour reunion.”
• Early-week travel to Shinnecock: “My flight out of Chicago was canceled Sunday night.”
• His wife’s influence in signing up for Q-School last fall: “She always says, ‘What else are you going to do?’”