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You’re probably not aware of this, but this pro is on an incredible tear right now


Got a case of the Mondays? Chris Naegel sure doesn’t.

Not anytime recently, at least.

Naegel, a journeyman pro from Missouri, has been starting his week the same way for a while now. He wakes up, drives to an ordinary golf course, makes six or seven birdies, and then gets one of the four open spots in the PGA Tour tournament that same week.

It’s impressive to qualify for a Tour event on a Monday, but to do it four times in a row? Almost nobody does that. Naegel has been making it look like nothing for him to do.
“For me, I just look at it as, I’ve got to make a bunch of birdies if I’m gonna play that week,” he says. “If I do, it’s awesome. If I don’t, so be it. I’ll play again next week.”

When Naegel talks about these qualifiers, they sound like a relaxed Sunday morning game of skins with the guys. But we all know that they’re not. For players with little or no status who are chasing their dreams, a bogey on a Monday can mean the difference between playing for millions and losing money for the week.

When it comes to bogeys, Naegel hasn’t made too many in his recent hot streak. He has only dropped four shots in the last 72 holes of open qualifiers. During the same time period, he has made 27 birdies and one eagle, which gives him a total score of 25 under for those rounds and four Thursday tee times with the best golfers in the world.

Before this month, Naegel, who is 39, had only played on the Tour six times, and three of those times he made the cut. One of those starts was at the U.S. Open last month, which happened after a successful qualifying round in Columbus, Ohio. After that, he started to play well.

Naegel’s Monday scores at the John Deere Classic began with 66, 66, 64, and 66. It has gotten him into four tournaments in a row (John Deere, Barracuda, 3M, and Rocket Mortgage) and nearly doubled the amount of Tour events he has played in so far.

He spoke of his recent play, “I’m not gonna say it’s easy to shoot 66, But it’s not as difficult as shooting 66 on a PGA Tour setup. So, after playing a Tour setup and then going to a Monday and seeing that setup, it seems a little easier than if I hadn’t seen the Tour setup the week before.”

But even though Naegel has been great on Mondays, his great start to the week hasn’t always led to success on the weekends. He has only made one cut since Monday’ing in, and his best finish was tied for 16th at the John Deere. The Rocket Mortgage is still to come.

That doesn’t mean, though, that the weeks haven’t been useful. Naegel has 52 FedEx Cup non-member points because he finished T56 at the U.S. Open and T16 at the John Deere. If he can get about 40 more points, he should be able to get into the Korn Ferry Tour Finals and have a chance at getting his first PGA Tour card.

“Week after week, it’s gotten me a little bit more hungry to get out here,” he said. “Seeing it week in and week out — this is definitely where you want to play.”

Original article posted on Golf.com

Photo credit: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

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