CROMWELL, Conn. – Chip McDaniel doesn’t have PGA Tour status. He doesn’t have any status on any tour.
But his reputation is beginning to proceed him.
“I saw [Roberto Diaz] in the locker room today,” McDaniel said Wednesday at the Travelers Championship. “He's like, ‘What's up, Mr. Monday?’
“I already have a nickname out here, which is pretty cool.”
On Thursday, McDaniel will make his sixth PGA Tour start this season and his second in as many weeks.
The 23-year-old out of the University of Kentucky went through local and sectional qualifying to make it to Pebble Beach, where he made the cut on the number and finished 78th in his U.S. Open debut.
“Then I had to hop on a red-eye and get back to the real world and play in a Monday qualifier,” he said.
Real life for a guy without status looks like this: a three-hour shuttle to the airport, four hours at San Francisco International, six-and-a-half hours on a 9 p.m. PT fight that landed in Boston at 5 a.m. ET, two-and-a-half hours in a rental car, and an 8:10 arrival for a 9:17 tee time at Ellington Ridge Country Club.
“I knew everything had to go smoothly to make it,” he said, admitting that even one delay would have likely kept him from arriving to the first tee on time.
Jet lag be damned, he shot 67 and then survived a nine-for-three playoff with a birdie and two pars to earn his way into the field at TPC River Highlands.
Ranked 805th in the world, McDaniel tried to make his way through Korn Ferry (nee Web.com) Qualifying School last fall, but failed out of second stage in Brooksville, Florida.
He had an eye on the Mackenzie Tour, but ended up Mondaying into the PGA Tour’s Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in March, when he shot a final-round 63 to finish tied for fifth. Parlaying his top-10 into another start the following week at the Valero Texas Open, he made the weekend but was an MDF after three rounds. He earned his third start a month later when he again Mondayed into the Wells Fargo.
McDaniel now has his sights on the Korn Ferry Finals. He intends to play each Monday qualifier on the PGA Tour for the remainder of the season and already has a sponsor’s exemption into the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club outside Lexington, Kentucky, where he’s a member.
The plan is to accumulate enough non-member FedExCup points to qualify for the Finals. Any player who earns enough points to finish between 126th and 200th on FedEx points list is exempt into the Korn Ferry Tour’s final three events, where players compete for both PGA Tour and Korn Ferry status. McDaniel currently owns 68 non-member points, which would put him 196th on the list, just barely in – for now.
“Well, my goal is to be on the PGA Tour,” he said. “Whether that's next year or five years down the road or 10 years down the road, I don't know.”