Now, to make life even better, he gets to live out every amateurs dream ' a chance to compete against a world-class professional while using his handicap.
Chao won a 54-hole stroke-play event to qualify for an 18-hole match-play showdown with two-time major winner John Daly in Best Westerns People vs. the Pros at Lake Las Vegas. It airs Monday, June 2 from 8-11 PM ET on The Golf Channel.
When I was a kid I used to want to be a pro, said Chao, who admitted that there were at least two minor factors that derailed his professional dream. One, I didnt play good enough. Two, I didnt have the dedication. But Ive always wanted to see how Id match up against a pro.
Video - Meet the two lucky challengers
And now he gets that opportunity. Chao was one of 30 players who won a bidding contest on eBay for a chance to compete in the 54-hole qualifier. He wasnt one of the original 30 winners, but got it when a couple of others didnt pay.
Chao, a 6-handicapper, said he usually plays about once a week, but he started practicing every day when he found out he got into the event.
He estimates hes at least 50 yards shorter off the tee than Daly: I think I hit it far, but its going to be a joke watching him, he said. Daly will play from the black tees, while Chao will be hitting from the shorter blue tees.
Knowing that he is playing one tee back, I think on the holes where length is an advantage Im going to have to be aggressive, Chao said.
Chao gives himself a 20-30 percent chance of winning. Thats about the same self-assessment given by Andy Rineer.
Rineer won the Senior division of the qualifier, which consisted of 30 players age 50 and older. Rineer, who like Chao is a stock trader, is a 50-year-old from Las Vegas, Nev. The 9-handicapper will square off against Lee Trevino. The two will play from the same tees.
Im looking forward to it, Rineer said. Theres going to be a lot of pressure; I hope my body can feel itself. Im going to be very nervous.
And dont expect Trevino to go easy on the amateur.
Ive got a long needle for this guy, Trevino joked. Im going to be having a lot of fun for four holes, and if this guy is keeping it in play and has me a couple down, then Im not doing any more talking the next 14.
I dont like to get beat, I dont care who Im playing. But I tell you what, I hope he beats me. I think it would be great, Trevino said. It proves how great this game really is, because in this sport anyone can play anyone else. Even an amateur with a handicap can play against a professional. You cannot do that in any other sport.
Each winner will receive $100,000; the runners-up will collect $50,000.