Love & Q-School
Chris Wilson successfully balanced a wedding and the Second Stage of qualifying
November 17, 2015
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- Chris Wilson married his longtime girlfriend Courtney on Nov. 6, a few days before Second Stage. (Kevin Prise/PGA TOUR)
BROOKSVILLE, Fla. -- Walk down the aisle. Compete for your professional livelihood four days later. Sound easy?
Not quite, but that’s what Web.com Tour veteran Chris Wilson was faced with last week. On Friday, November 6, he married his longtime girlfriend Courtney in Winston-Salem, North Carolina – her hometown.
Then last Tuesday, he teed it up at the Second Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament at Southern Hills Plantation Club in Brooksville, Florida – trying to regain his playing privileges on the Web.com Tour, which he had played full time since 2012.
Allow marriage and Q-School to coincide.
“Getting married was wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but there’s stress and anxiety leading up to that … because, you know, it’s an anxious situation,” Wilson said after his final round at Southern Hills Plantation Club. “And then this (Second Stage) falling on the heels of that, knowing in the back of my mind that this was coming up … having enough time to work on my game, which I did, and then having enough time to put toward the wedding and then focusing on that.
“I just took all my waking hours and I tried to divide the two up evenly if I could. But my body has been through some anxiety and some stress the last two weeks, and I’m glad it’s kind of over for right now.”
With Courtney serving as caddie, Wilson’s golf game held up just well enough to advance. The 31-year-old Northwestern alum made clutch 4-to-6 footers for par on the final two holes, shooting a 4-under 68 in the fourth round to post a 9-under 279 total, one shot inside the cut line.
He keeps his Web.com Tour card, and he’ll head to Final Stage next month in an effort to secure the best possible status for the 2016 season.
Making Wilson’s performance at Southern Hills Plantation Club all the more impressive? In the back of his mind, he thought this might be his last shot at professional golf. After playing the PGA TOUR in 2010 and spending a few years on the Web.com Tour, he wasn’t sure if he had the heart to plan a mini-tour schedule for next year – especially as a newly married man.
“It was a strange feeling,” said Wilson of the final round, which he entered one shot outside the cut line. “Because if I didn’t have any status next year on any Tour, I didn’t know if I had the energy to go back out and play the mini-tours for a year and chase Mondays and all that.
“I love golf and I love the game, but I’m to the point now where when I was just out of college, I looked at guys my age who were playing the mini-tours and thinking, ‘What are they doing? They’ve got a family at home and this and that.’
“And now potentially, it could’ve been me, had I not played well this week. It was an odd feeling, but I went out and left it all on the golf course.”My body has been through some anxiety and some stress the last two weeks, and I’m glad it’s kind of over for right now.
While exiting the scoring area and grabbing a cup of water at the end of Second Stage, Wilson was able to do something he hadn’t done in weeks: take a quick breath.
The Columbus, Ohio, native made a clutch 8-footer for birdie on No. 16, then got up and down for par on the final two holes, posting his number and gradually realizing that it would be good enough to advance.
A gratifying feeling, indeed. Not unlike walking down the aisle.
“I do a pretty good job when I’m out there of sticking to the moment, and staying in the moment, and focusing on each shot individually,” Wilson said. “One shot at a time, you hear it over and over … but knowing that, and being able to do it, are two totally different things.
“Everybody has to find their own way that they’re able to do that. Having Courtney out there really helped, keeping me loose and not getting ahead. And we did a good job of staying in the present, I thought.”
Wilson endured his share of struggles on the Web.com Tour in 2015, making just eight of 21 cuts and recording only one top-25 finish.
But fortune can change on the dime in the world of professional golf, and sometimes a little spark can lead to an avalanche of good.
Getting married, then advancing through Second Stage. Not a bad week, and not a bad spark.
“It was the best day of my life up until this point,” Wilson said of the wedding. “Until today.”
Then he laughed and glanced over to Courtney.
“No, no. I’m just teasing.”