Trey Shirley made his first PGA Tour cut in his first Tour start in his home state of Kentucky at the Barbasol Championship. But the road there was a little longer than the drive from his Bowling Green home to the tournament site in Nicholasville.
Shirley, 31, was nearly paralyzed at 18 years old after being diagnosed with transverse myelitis, an infection that inflamed his spinal cord and put him in a wheelchair. However, doctors at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville helped him make a full recovery.
He then went on to play basketball and golf at Campbellsville University, but eventually would focus on golf. For years, he played on the PGA Latinoamérica, Mackenzie and Korn Ferry tours. He qualified for the Barbasol by shooting a 7-under 65 in the pre-qualifier and then an identical score at Monday's qualifier.
"It's been a hard grind for me, my family, my wife," Shirley said after shooting 3-under 69 on Friday. "Yeah, it's pretty emotional to make the first cut on the PGA Tour. I can't describe it. Very excited for the weekend, though. Got to regroup. Need to go to the putting green to work on some putts. Didn't really putt well today, but my ball-striking's been good all week."
Shirley birdied the par-3 13th and the par-5 15th on Friday, but bogeyed No. 17. Then loomed the par-4 18th – which he bogeyed on Day 1 – where he said he hit his best shot of Day 2. He parred that hole and made the cut with many of his family and friends by his side.
"I've had tons of people here, Shirley said. "My wife's here. My dad's on the bag, which is really cool. He's been on the bag forever. College buddies are here, my golf buddies are here. I've had probably 50, 60 people here rooting me on. When I make a birdie, everybody's cheering and stuff. When I make a bad swing, everybody's kind of gasping. It's cool to play a home game this week."