(Reuters) – Michael Visacki, a longtime mini-tour player who qualified this week for his first PGA Tour event, realised a lifelong dream on Thursday by competing in the opening round of the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Visacki, who drained a 20-foot putt in a playoff at a Monday qualifier to earn the final spot in this week’s field, birdied the par-five first hole at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead course en route to a three-over-par 74.
“Yeah, it was awesome,” Visacki said about his 334-yard drive at the first hole. “I thought I was going to be a little bit more nervous than I was but I felt calm, had a good warm-up session and striped one right down the middle.”
The 27-year-old Visacki became one of golf’s feel-good stories of the year after the emotional phone call he made to his father to say he would be making a start on golf’s most lucrative circuit was caught on video and went viral.
And despite a whirlwind week during which he was thrust onto the pre-tournament interview schedule with the likes of world number one Dustin Johnson and number two Justin Thomas, Visacki was able to get a good night’s sleep before his big day.
“Last night was a little bit easier than even really even the Monday qualifier, actually,” said Visacki. “I had barely got any sleep that night, but last night was probably the first night that I’ve actually gotten some decent sleep this week.”
Visacki feels his first taste of PGA Tour life will be nothing but beneficial.
Playing on a Copperhead layout that is about an hour from his home in Sarasota, Visacki followed his opening birdie with three consecutive bogeys and reached the turn in two-over-par 38 before mixing two bogeys with a birdie on the back nine.
“I hope that it gives other guys like me inspiration to keep going, because I know a lot of guys that just give up, they’re like, you know, I’m not good enough,” said Visacki.
“Just kind of forget about that and focus on you know how good you are because you’re still trying to do this for a living and just one shot at a time.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)
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