He drove out of Denver last Saturday fueled up only on hopes and a dream, traveling 11 hours to the Ozarks for the Monday qualifier. After all, he wasn’t an automatic entry into the PGA Korn Ferry Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper.
And yet look who stood outside the Highland Springs Country Club with the sun sitting over his shoulders Friday and wearing a grin. And rightfully so.
Cinderella made the cut. But it was even better than that for Daniel Sutton, who surged to a tie for fifth as the 31st PCCC heads into the weekend, with the winner Sunday to earn a $117,000 check. That’s out of a $650,000 purse.
Brandon Wu, who was fearing he would have to Monday qualify himself as recently as last weekend, is at 14-under-par 133 after a 9-under par 63 on Friday, and more on him in a second. (The cut came at 4-under with 69 players advancing to the weekend.)
Sutton arguably is an even more surprising story. At one point Friday, he was tied for second after carding a 5-under-par 67 — good for a two-day score of 11-under-par 133.
This by a Birmingham, England native and University of Kansas graduate who, lo and behold, had never attempted to “Monday qualify” into a Korn Ferry Tour event until pulling into Springfield last weekend.
“I’m just trying to enjoy my whole experience,” said Sutton, a 23-year-old who turned pro in 2018, part of a journey in which he first stopped at the University of Idaho. “This was my first Monday qualifier ever. I’ve been a pro a couple of years and didn’t do anything the first couple. I wanted to get to the next step. I went to “Q” school last year and didn’t make it.”
Sutton opened on No. 10 Friday, staying steady by playing even on a par-4 and par-5, and then authoring a string of four birdies. He had two more birdies on the front nine, the par-4 No. 1 and par-5 No. 8 – whose fairway slopes down but drops considerably, leaving the water hazard out of sight.
Unfortunately, Sutton bogeyed his last hole, No. 9.
In his postgame interview, he shrugged it off. That’s probably to be expected for someone who has been climbing the ladder. Two years ago, he worked in Minneapolis, even during its brutal winters. Last fall, he worked away quietly, got married and then hit three Dakotas Tour.
“My whole game” has found a comfort zone, Sutton said. “I’ve been working on my putting over the winter. I’ve holed some putts but haven’t gone crazy on the greens. My driving is normally pretty good. I’ve stayed on the fairways.”
More on Wu
Meanwhile, Wu is an interesting talent. He was prepped at the prestigous Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and played at Stanford University. He was on the Walker Cup team a year ago.
On Friday, Wu eagled the par 5 No. 18 – an incredible feat there considering the tee box sits atop a hill some 542 yards away from the hole, with trees to the left, the large pond sitting to the right in the valley and with the pond also cutting partly in front of the green.
Wu also birded holes No. 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 12.
“I’ve been hitting it well the past couple of days,” said Wu, who in his PGA Tour pro debut (on a sponsor’s exemption) flirted with a top 10 finish at the Houston Open. “I didn’t have a game plan. I just tried to keep it in the fairway.”
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