DETROIT – Chris Nigel had a comfortable five hours to make his trip to Charlotte, which was actually kind of a bummer. Sunday finished very early at Detroit Golf Club, a sign that he occupied the bottom end of the leaderboard.
Naegel had just finished a two-under-70 and completed the Rocket Mortgage Classic with a five-under 283, which was fine for a T-68. Making the cut was an achievement, as he resisted fatigue.
I’ve had more field making than one.
For the fourth time this month, Nigel, 39, has secured a spot on the PGA Tour via Monday’s playoffs. His trip took him to Sylvies, Illinois, Truckee, California, and Blaine, Minnesota, before the penultimate event of the regular season this week. On his last attempt, Nigel, carrying his own bag, fired a six-under-66 shot at The Orchards in Washington, Michigan, keeping his hopes of making the Korn Ferry Tour finals alive.
If he manages to finish in the top 200 on the FedEx Cup score list, Naegel will be eligible for all three KFT Finals events, where 25 PGA Tour cards are available. Week 204 entered with 52 points from non-members. So guess what? He needs to make a big appearance on Monday again.
His next stop in the playoffs is the Bermuda Run Country Club in Bermuda Run, NC. If he can finish racing among the top four again, he will play in the Wyndham Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, the final regular season event on the 2021-22 PGA Tour program.
“I don’t do many things differently. I just try to get as low as I can,” said Nigel, who is a father of three and lives in Wildwood, Missouri. I’m back to old rackets, just an old ancer ping. I didn’t do my best in tournaments, but it was doing well on Monday. Yes, it was kind of a fun stretch.”
The stretch really began with a successful showing in the US Open final playoffs, also held on Monday (he fired 65-69 to finish fourth in the always-tough Columbus, Ohio playoff). He went on to make the cut and finished the T-56 at The Country Club in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, then made it to the John Deere Classic, where he tied for 16th, his best PGA Tour. He didn’t attend the weekend for the next two starts, the Barracuda and the 3-meter Open, but he keeps moving forward.
Naegel last enjoyed full status at the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017, and had to pick places here and there to stay in the game. “This is what I like to do. And my wife [Lindsey]”She’s the kind of person who says you should try to do what you want in life if it makes you happy,” Nigel said. “She’s incredibly supportive.”
Not only does Nigel carry his own bag during Monday’s qualifiers, but he also explores the courses… using Google Earth. “You can pretty much tell what you have to do with just this,” he said.
The former NAIA All-American was not discouraged by the Missouri Baptist in his quest to make the PGA Tour. His performances this year have given him confidence that he belongs.
“If I keep putting my foot in the door and giving myself chances, that’s all I can ask for now,” Nigel said. “It’s hard to be disappointed by anything that’s happened in the last month or two. I’ve played some decent golf. I wanted to play better in the locations too. I’ll keep it up.”