“I made it.”
Michael Visacki could barely get those words out as he informed his father, Mike, over an emotional phone call that he had qualified for his first PGA Tour event. The 27-year-old Sarasota, Florida, native, who turned pro in 2014 after just one season at the University of Central Florida, earned one of four Monday qualifying spots into the Valspar Championship via a playoff.
Visacki shot 5-under 67 at Southern Hills Plantation to get into a 4-for-2 playoff with Daniel Chopra, Chris Baker and college player Albin Bergstrom, who a day earlier had won the American Athletic Conference individual title while also leading South Florida to the team championship. Chopra birdied the first playoff hole to get the third spot (Jordan Hahn and Brad Adamonis each shot 66 to avoid a playoff) and Bergstrom was eliminated, leaving Baker and Visacki, who drove his ball into a bush, hacked out and made a great par, according to Monday Q Info.
A hole later, Visacki drained a 20-footer for birdie to nab the final ticket to Innisbrook in Palm Harbour, which is about an hour from Visacki’s hometown. After the ball dropped, Visacki raise both hands in the air and then hugged his caddie, Kaylor Steger, as he started balling.
"I was like, 'Man ... if I make this putt, I'm going to be playing in the Valspar,'" Visacki said. "But after that I was like, 'OK, I got to not think about that; I got to think about putting the best stroke possible, picking out a good line with me and my caddie, and we picked out a great line, and I hit the spot, and it went in the hole.
"I mean, this is a dream come true, so I'm going to have to take every opportunity I can, and I know I can do it."
A regular on the mini-tours since turning pro, Visacki won seven times on the West Florida Golf Tour last year and owns nearly 40 wins on the tour in his career, which has largely been spent driving around the country in his 2010 Honda Accord, which is approaching 200,000 miles. He has one career OWGR-recognized start to his credit – a T-27 at the 2018 KC Golf Classic on the KFT, which spurred him on to a $68,000 year playing golf in 2018.
Visacki's closest call to taking the next step in his career came two years ago, when he lost a ball in a tree on the penultimate hole in the final round of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School to miss final stage by a shot.
"I don't know how I was able to even drive," he said. "We had a four-hour drive back home and I would be staring at the road and I would just not be thinking about driving; I would be thinking about what I just gave up because it's my dream to obviously be on the PGA Tour, but stepping stone through the Korn Ferry, it was really heartbreaking. I had a lot of people ask me, 'How were you able to get over it?' I said I can't think about that, because if I think about that it will just make me feel sad and you can't do that in this game, you have to keep pushing yourself and keep going."
"I never once thought about quitting," Visacki added.
Now, he finally gets his chance on the big tour.
“Oh my God. Oh my goodness,” Visacki’s dad could be heard saying through the phone in a video that already has more than 600,000 views on Twitter. “I’m crying. Congratulations.”
Mike Visack and his wife, Donna, have owned a transport company for nearly two decades. Their son said they'd sometimes skip meals or paying the phone bill to fund Michael's golf career.
Said Visacki on Tuesday: "Yeah, Pops was emotional; never seen him cry so much. We're not very much of a crying family, but this is the first time in a long time I think that we all cried because we knew how much work and effort, blood, sweat, tears, has gone into me trying to make it, and to finally be able to do it, it's a dream come true."