My first year as a professional golfer has come to an end and the last three months have been filled with lots of great accomplishments. The G-Pro events in South Carolina and Georgia went well even though I missed the cut in Georgia as I still managed to shoot -17 combined in the two events (-12 & -5). Upon completion of those two events it was time to prepare for PGA Tour Qualifying School in October.
I chose to play my First Stage of Q School in Mobile, Alabama. After signing up, I became aware of a mini tour event on the Emerald Gulf Coast Tour at RTJ Magnolia Crossings where my First Stage of Q School was also going to be played. I chose to sign up as a warmup event and to get a closer look at the golf course in tournament conditions. Although I didn't play my best golf in rain and wind I built my confidence for the following week at First Stage of Q School. I came into First Stage after a week of prepping with my coaches and playing some of my best golf all year. The conditions for the event were perfect, sunny and in the 80s everyday. I played well every day thanks to making some clutch putts shooting scores of 69-67-70-66 to finish tied for 8th at -16. It was good enough to easily finish in the top 19 and ties necessary to move on to Second Stage of Q School.
In between First and Second Stage I played in the DEV Series Final sanctioned by PGA Tour Latin America. This event was in Mazatlan, Mexico and was only available for players who lost their Tour status, but were able to earn points in PGA Tour Latin America events in 2023. This event offered full status to the Top 3 finishers and conditional status to the Top 10 and ties. Coming off a great week of play at First Stage I was determined to continue playing well and attempt to guarantee myself status on PGA Tour America's for 2024 regardless of any status I could earn from getting through Q School. I arrived in Mexico ready for the week, but unfortunately it was without any of my bags. I spent two days waiting for them to arrive and luckily they did the day prior to the event starting. Not having my clubs was a blessing in disguise because although I did not play a practice round, it gave me some time to get over a nagging ear infection. I played well the first day aside from a bad finish due to my caddie quitting after 14 holes and having to carry my bag the last 4 holes in the 100 degree heat and humidity. With a new caddie for the last three rounds I was excited and ready to earn back my status. I shot 66 and 65 in the second and third rounds after shooting 69 in the first round to put me in a tie for 4th. A prime position to make a move in the final round and secure full status. In the final round I got off to a bad start and put myself in a hole. On the 11th hole I was at -11 and two over on the day needing to make a strong final charge to have any chance of securing status and I did just that. I made birdies on holes 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, and lipped out on 18 to shoot a back nine 31 and tie for 7th place. This was the last place that received any status for the following year. Although I did not earn full status for the first half of the 2024 PGA Tour America's season, I still was able to birdie 4 of my last 5 holes to earn conditional status which is better than the PGA Tour Latin America status I started with in 2023.
Flying back to the States with PGA America's Tour status in hand it was time to prepare for Second Stage Q School and try to earn Korn Ferry or PGA Tour status. The Second Stage Q School site I chose was in Savannah, GA at The Landings - Deer Creek, only an hour or so from Hilton Head Island. In the middle of November the weather on the coast can be rough and it was exactly that for Second Stage. In a strong field full of 2023 Korn Ferry Tour members and some current and past PGA Tour players and champions. I knew that it would be a challenging week on top of the expected weather forecast of cold temperatures, high winds and rain. I did not get off to my best start shooting 3 over 75 the first day, but was able to battle back the second and third rounds to put myself in red numbers at -2 heading into the final round with the cut being at -6 after the three days. I knew I needed to go low in the final round to have any chance of moving on to Final Stage of Q School. Unfortunately the aggressive shots I played didn't go my way and I missed qualifying for the Final Stage of Q School. With missing at Second Stage my season was over and it was time to start my off season and prepare for 2024.
This first year included a lot of important learning and important achievements that I am very proud of. However, I have even higher goals and expectations for 2024. Building for the future of my career was one of my priorities this year along with continuing to play great golf. In college, I had many resources provided to me that I used extensively. Resources such as physical therapy equipment that my college teams traveled with to events and used at school, workout equipment for golf swing specific movements, and most important tools of all were the team owned launch monitors which I utilized every day to improve. Therefore, with my success from my first year, I chose to make some asset purchases with capital I had on hand in order to personally own and have some of the same resources that I did in college. This year has been incredibly successful for me and considerably more successful than the majority of first year pros. My highlights came when I won the second largest purse in mini tour golf at the Waterloo Open (-21) only 6 months into my career, its second to only the Colorado Open. I made it through First Stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School shooting 16 under par and becoming one of only 200 players out of 900 to advance to Second Stage. When my back was against the wall after losing my tour status on PGA Tour Latin America, I went to Mexico and shot 16 under par to finish in the top 10 and earn my status back for 2024.
I cant wait to get back after it and have an even better and more successful year in 2024!
Author - Evan Brown
I have created this Blog post page on my website to keep everyone updated on my successes, failures, and everything in between. I am excited to take you all along with me on my journey through the various levels and stages of professional golf, as it takes place. I hope that everyone will read, comment and make this an interactive space for all!