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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Kevin Aylwin, first Pga Tour occasion after 12 years

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It is 7:30 on a Wednesday morning on the New Smyrna Seashore Golf Membership, a municipal course about three hours from the Innisbrook Resort, the place the Valspar Championship will start in lower than 24 hours. Kevin Aylwin, a neighborhood legend of the mini-tours who has performed New Smyrna numerous instances since childhood, is sneaking onto the again 9, as he usually does.

However this time, it is completely different. As a result of Aylwin can be taking part in from the tenth gap the following day, in his first PGA Tour event, 12 years after turning skilled. However why was he three hours away from the Innisbrook Resort on a Wednesday? Kevin, 35, has a pure swing.

He would not hit it lengthy (by skilled golf requirements), however he finds most fairways and has an awesome quick gameIf there was a mini-tour occasion or some hundred-dollar bets in Florida during the last 12 years, Aylwin was most likely there, usually successful.

Kevin Aylwin, historical past

He has over 30 victories in 36-hole occasions, not counting 18-hole event wins. With these, he says his complete wins would most likely method three figures. When Hurricane Ian hit Florida in 2022, Aylwin and his spouse Chelsea hunkered down pondering they had been far sufficient inland to be protected from flooding.

They had been incorrect. Water was already within the yard once they wakened that morning. Inside a couple of hours, it was ankle-deep. Kevin and Chelsea grabbed a backpack and a paddleboard, pushed them out the lounge window, and paddled away…

They would not return to dwell of their residence for nearly six months. It was then that Chelsea, a second-grade instructor, and Kevin determined he wanted to discover a full-time job. For years, Kevin made a residing within the mini-tour grind.

He performed solely Florida tournaments to chop down on bills and received usually sufficient to remain within the black (almost unattainable within the mini-tour realm). Nevertheless, such a life-style is unsustainable, and there have been months when the couple can be within the pink on account of some excessive scores.

Shortly after the hurricane handed, Kevin began working full-time as an assistant skilled at Cypress Head Golf Course in Port Orange. Most weeks he works 40 hours, however he nonetheless finds time to play some mini-tour occasions.

Aylwin nonetheless goals of a PGA Tour profession, and the membership works as a lot as attainable round his taking part in schedule. Final week, after signing up for Valspar Championship pre-qualifying late and being waitlisted, the PGA part that handles qualifying referred to as Aylwin to let him know he had a tee time in Thursday’s pre-qualifying.

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By way of ups and downs, he shot 69 to advance to Monday’s qualifier. The Monday Qualifying, crucial, lastly admits 4 gamers to the precise event. At Southern Hills, Aylwin closed the entrance 9 1 below par, however he knew he wanted to do one thing particular on the again.

And he did. 5 consecutive birdies to shut out the final 9 in 30 strokes earned him a spot within the Valspar Championship. That very night Kevin had returned residence to have fun together with his household. For Monday qualifiers, the one day to apply on the course is Tuesday as a result of in most tournaments, the course is closed on Wednesday to gamers not taking part in within the pro-am.

He had already performed the course a few instances, and a number of instances on a simulator. Tuesday he performed 9 holes with Adam Schenk, whom he had performed with a couple of instances in Florida, ending within the early afternoon. At that time, a call wanted to be made.

“I’ve by no means been a variety rat,” Aylwin stated. “Except I am engaged on one thing particular, I hit 5 balls and lose focus.” Therefore the choice to make a three-hour journey again residence. It is easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of novelty at a PGA Tour occasion.

Gear producer vans are extraordinarily inviting, providing free golf equipment and attire. On the placing inexperienced, corporations provide the possibility to strive their product free of charge. There’s additionally stress on the apply vary, as a good variety of gamers hit numerous balls.

A former participant on the present Korn Ferry Tour as soon as advised me that in his first 12 months with a card, seeing a few of his colleagues hit balls for hours, he thought he ought to do it too… stepping out of his consolation zone. At a participant’s first PGA Tour event, it is easy to stray from what works finest for oneself.

So Aylwin jumped in his automotive (he declined the courtesy automotive…) and headed residence, away from the chaos of the event. “I am taking part in,” he stated. “That is how I put together for any occasion, so I figured I would go residence and play.” So Wednesday morning, only a day earlier than the most important occasion of his life, Kevin Aylwin returned to the course he had performed tens of hundreds of instances.

The membership skilled greeted him with a smile and a hug, and the few members he often performs with met him on the tee. They invited him to affix them, however Kevin politely declined. He performed alone, hitting extra balls on every gap.

About 300 kilometers from the difficult course he would play the following day, “Monday Qualifyier” Kevin Aylwin was practising the easiest way he knew how, taking part in on the municipal course the place he grew up.

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