Conrad Shindler will make his second start on the PGA Tour since 2019 this week at the Travelers Championship as one of four players who Monday qualified.
CROMWELL, Conn. — It’s hard to be a Monday qualifier for a PGA Tour event, and it isn’t any easier once into the event.
Golf odds obviously are not in their favor, but there’s also some limitations when preparing for the tournament.
That wasn’t the case this week.
Because Shindler wasn’t in the pro-am event Wednesday, his only option to play the course was to get up around sunrise (5:30 a.m.) and sneak in nine holes before the pro-am. He was on the fence about doing it following a late 18-hole practice round Tuesday, and rain early Wednesday made that decision even easier.
Like many other Monday qualifiers in PGA Tour events, Shindler was forced to adapt.
While he couldn’t get onto the course, he got full access to the practice facility at TPC River Highlands, one of the best on the PGA Tour. It has a massive driving range with plenty of flags to fire at, along with a good-sized chipping area and a mammoth putting green.
Day one at TPC River Highlands and the range is busy. pic.twitter.com/e1RwUwwUik
— Shawn McFarland (@McFarland_Shawn) June 23, 2020
Although not at sunrise, Shindler arrived early Wednesday as he will be teeing off at 8:35 a.m. Thursday and knew he didn’t want to be at the course as late as Tuesday.
“We’ll do a constructive practice,” he said from the practice area Wednesday. “Put more pressure on chips and putts.”
It was also a chance to get acclimated to wet conditions, especially on and around the greens, which could come into play during his first round on Thursday.
“The ball is definitely skipping,” he said. “That first or second impact of the ball isn’t grabbing as much as it would otherwise. It may be a completely different shot [Wednesday] or [Thursday] instead of Saturday.”
Despite only one practice round, Shindler has played the course before (he was in the event in 2018), so it wasn’t as big of a deal as it would be at a course he’s not used to.
“This is a course where lines [off the tee] are important,” Shindler said. “And then really understanding firmness of the greens. Firmness, to me, is the most important thing because it really dictates shots, especially to back pins. We can’t necessarily fly the ball all the way to the hole, so skip it back there. That’s the biggest key to understanding a golf course, I would say.”
And while some PGA Tour pros would rather not play in pro-ams, Shindler is the opposite.
“I don’t mind pro-ams,” he said. “I have met some great people. You never know what kind of people you’re going to meet. You never know the impact you can make on some of these guys. You never know the opportunity that comes. Some people don’t treat pro-ams as a chance to make connections. You never know who you’re going to meet.”
Shindler departed the course by 1 p.m. and planned a relaxing afternoon, including rooting on his alma mater Texas A&M in the College World Series and his dad arriving from Texas shortly before dinnertime.
Pre-Tournament Round Routine?
Some PGA Tour pros, and regular golfers for that matter, are superstitious regarding their warmup routines before rounds.
But, that isn’t the case with Shindler.
He’ll arrive around 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning to hit a few chips and putts, mostly to get used to the speed of the greens, and then hit a few balls to get loose.
Nothing out of the ordinary or elaborate.
“I try and not make it more than it is,” he said.
Shindler will play the first two rounds with Beau Hossler and Andrew Novak.
Finish as high as possible to earn a spot into next week’s field (top-10 finish), or at least earn a bunch of FedEx Cup points to help finish in the top 200 at the end of the year, which would get him a spot into the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
And while it would be easy for a Monday qualifier to be a little timid, it’s not Shindler’s mentality.
“Enjoy the moment,” he said. “I fully believe in my tools to be successful. I am going to hit bad shots. Everyone in this tournament is going to hit bad shots, even the guy who wins. I understand they are going to happen. It’s about going with the flow and managing those misses efficiently.”
Click here to read Day 1 of the Daily Diary series.