|3/10/2014 10:13:00 AM|
L-P graduate Puetz realizes his dream
|La Salle-Peru graduate Tim Puetz poses for a photo after a tournament earlier this year. Last Monday, Puetz shot a 66 to qualify for the Puerto Rico Open, which was his first PGA Tour event. After he shot a 5-over-par 77 on Thursday, Puetz carded a 1-over 73 on Friday and missed the cut by seven strokes.|
|Tim Puetz tees off during a tournament recently in Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic. The La Salle-Peru graduate played in his first PGA Tour Tournament, the Puerto Rico Open, last weekend.|
Tim Puetz has been chasing his professional golf dream since childhood.
From his youth when his mother, Deb, would drive him from junior tournament to junior tournament to successful high school, junior college and college careers to the last few years as a teaching professional, Puetz has worked to attain his goal.
His father, Dan, taught him to never give up, and that persistence finally paid off last week when Puetz qualified for his first PGA Tour event.
Puetz earned a spot in the Puerto Rico Open by shooting a 66 in Monday qualifying to grab one of four available spots.
“It meant a lot,” the La Salle-Peru graduate said. “It’s fulfilling a lifelong dream. All the hard work and sacrifices and time and effort I put into this goal and this dream finally came together. It’s a pretty spectacular feeling.”
It was Puetz’s second attempt at getting into a PGA tournament through Monday qualifying. He previously tried to earn a spot in the Honda Classic.
“The tough thing is it’s a long shot, even for PGA Tour players to go and compete in Monday qualifiers,” Puetz said. “They cost a lot of Monday. It’s $500 to give it a shot. Financially, it’s tough to justify taking that big of a chance on a long shot.”
Puetz decided to take a shot at the Puerto Rico Open because he received a winter fund from Huntington Country Club in New York where he serves as a teaching professional, and a Huntington member gave him a place to stay at the site of the tournament.
“It made a lot of sense,” Puetz said.
Everything had come together for Puetz, and Thursday he played his first round on the PGA Tour.
“The first hole I was very nervous, then I hit a really fantastic bunker shot on the first hole and got up and down for par,” Puetz said. “I hit a 3-footer for par, which was probably one of the toughest 3-footers I’ve ever had in my career. Once I made that putt and got to the next tee, I had an 8-iron in my hand and I was still kind of nervous.
“I was like, ‘Tim, it’s an 8-iron. You’ve been doing this. It’s nothing different. You’re good at playing golf. Just go out there, have fun and play golf.’ After that, I really was very comfortable.”
Puetz finished the first day with a 5-over-par 77.
“I made a little bit of a mistake the first day,” Puetz said. “I woke up super early. I was ready to go. I had so much adrenaline and I got to the golf course way too early. I was trying to soak up the experience and trying to see all these famous golfers. (I wanted to) rub elbows with them and hit balls next to them.
“By the time I got to the 13th or 14th hole, I ran out of gas. It was really hot out and I had a hard time eating because I was so nervous. I just completely ran out of gas. I think I bogeyed three or four holes in a row. I kind of lost it physically and mentally.”
Puetz shed the nervousness for Friday’s round and didn’t make the same mistakes.
As a result, he shot a 1-over-par 73 for a two-round score of 150, which was seven strokes away from making the cut.
“The second day I came out and it was like a normal round of golf,” Puetz said. “I played pretty well. I left some strokes out there. I think everyone can say that, but I definitely played well enough to shoot under par the second day. I let the round get away from me a little bit.”
Puetz is now in Florida, where he teaches at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens during the winter.
He said the Puerto Rico Open was his last tournament of the winter, but he will compete in the spring and summer — and will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open — and he plans to attend PGA and European Tour Q schools in the fall.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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