Kevin Stinson‘s first taste of playing on the PGA Tour was every bit as electric as he might have dreamed it would be.
The 28-year-old Mission golfer earned a spot in last week’s RBC Canadian Open at the Royal Montreal Golf Club by virtue of his second-place finish in Monday qualifying.
For Thursday’s opening round, Stinson arrived at the first tee box to find upwards of 500 spectators waiting – a far larger audience than he was used to on his regular circuit, the third-tier PGA Tour Canada. Fans cheered as each golfer’s name was announced, but they saved their loudest roars for the Canadians.
“I got up there and there was a really good cheer, and it was like, ‘OK, here we go,'” Stinson related with a chuckle. “You just try to find the club face and get it in play, because it’s pretty nerve-wracking.”
Stinson did manage to get that first tee shot in play, and he went on to play the front nine at even par, the high point coming when he birdied three straight holes.
The rest of the tournament didn’t go as planned – he played the back nine at four over par en route to a 74, and followed with a 79 on Friday to miss the cut.
Nevertheless, the PGA Tour debut was a milestone worth savouring for the fifth-year pro.
“I would have liked to play better, for sure, but you just take the positives from the week,” said Stinson, who turned pro in 2010 after four standout seasons at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Tex. “I can definitely play on that level. It’s just a matter of time and patience and hard work, and I’ll get there.
“The level from PGA Tour Canada to the PGA Tour, it’s so small. It’s one shot here or there. The top players on our tour, when they’re playing well, they can compete on any tour around the world. You’ve just got to keep that in mind, and keep getting better each year.
“That’s what I’m doing, and I’m just going to stick with it and persevere.”
Perseverance is something Stinson has demonstrated in spades this season. He was a full member of PGA Tour Canada from 2011 to 2013, but is on conditional status this year after finishing tied for 38th at Q-School in May (the top 18 earned exempt status). So he’s had to go the Monday qualifying route to get into tournaments.
He’s played his way into the field for three PGA Tour Canada events thus far, making one cut along the way, and combined with his Monday qualification for the RBC Canadian Open, he’s picked up the nickname “Mr. Monday.”
“It’s one I’m trying to get rid of – I’d like to be called Mr. Sunday eventually,” Stinson said with a chuckle, alluding to his aspiration to excel in the final round as opposed to Monday qualifying. “But any press is good press – so I’ll take Mr. Monday for now, but hopefully I can get on the Mr. Sunday train.”
Stinson has participated in 11 Monday qualifiers this season between PGA Tour Canada, the South African Tour and the PGA Tour – a gauntlet that’s laden with uncertainty on a week-to-week basis.
“It’s tough, because you can’t really book your travel the way you want to,” he said. “But that being said, Monday qualifiers are just one round, so you’ve just got to go out and play well.
“I’m learning a lot from it and I think it’s going to make me a better player in the long run.”