Travelers Championship Daily Diary: Life as a Monday Qualifier

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(Ryan Hannable/BetMGM)
Ryan Hannable @RyanHannable Jun 21, 2022, 9:43 PM

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. — Conrad Shindler has +75000 odds at the online sportsbook to win the Travelers Championship, but that doesn’t matter to the 33-year-old, considering even halfway through his round Monday, he thought he would be back home in Texas.

“My thought was I’ll be home around 7:50-8 p.m. I won’t see my six-month-old; I’ll see him in the morning,” Shindler said from the practice area at TPC River Highlands. “I already made a tee time with a guy at my club. I was like, ‘I’ll be home tomorrow, let’s play.’”

This was when he was 1-under after his 10th hole of the day. Shindler then reeled off four birdies in five holes on his back-9 to ultimately finish at 5-under. 

“It was like, ‘Holy crap,’” Shindler said. “It can change on a dime.”

That was enough to earn him one of the four spots available to the 67 players who teed it up. Patrick Flavin shot 6-under, and then there were two others besides Shindler at 5-under.

Monday Afternoon

After he was officially in the Travelers Championship field, Shindler returned his rental car and picked up his courtesy car, which is given to all PGA Tour players in the field.

He then found an empty parking lot to secure a hotel for the week. He had checked out earlier in the day. Luckily for him, it was easier than his experience a few days before.

Shindler arrived in Hartford Saturday night around 11 p.m. Once he arrived at his hotel, he was informed it had been oversold, and he did not have a room for the night. So he drove 20 minutes across town to a new hotel and didn’t get settled in until roughly 2 a.m.

On Sunday, he had an early practice round at the Monday qualifier course, Ellington Ridge Country Club, with a buddy who is a course member.

It did not go well.

“I played absolutely terrible,” Shindler said. “I played so bad. I was like, ‘If you put a pillow down in this fairway, I will nap right now.’”

That didn’t change his mindset for Monday, though.

“The juices don’t flow until [Monday]. It didn’t bother me,” he said.

The next step after securing the hotel was finding a caddie. 

This was a little harder than a month ago when he Monday qualified for the AT&T Byron Nelson. Since that was close to his home in Texas, he had six to seven caddies reach out to see if he needed help.

No one reached out this time, but Shindler had a caddie from when he played on the PGA Tour full-time in 2017-18 that lives in Buffalo. So after a phone call, he agreed to make the 6.5-hour drive down and carry his bag for the week.

Shindler then settled into his hotel, put his feet up, and got some rest.

Tuesday Prep

Tuesdays can be overwhelming for some players who Monday qualify, but not Shindler, who played TPC River Highlands when he was on Tour in 2018 and has dozens of PGA Tour events under his belt.

Some players might also spend hours grinding on the range to dial their games in even more. But not Shindler.

“I am not a practice guy by nature,” he said. “I don’t mind working on the short game, but I am not a big ball-striker guy. I hate hitting golf balls on the range. I will do it if I need to work on something. Other than that, I am very confident in the shots I hit in consistent ways. I don’t have the mentality to stand on the range to hit balls.”

Shindler arrived at the course around 11:30 a.m. and got a few backup wedges from the on-site equipment trucks. Then around 3 p.m., he was on the course for a practice round.

The 5-foot-8 blond-haired Texan was locked in. He confidently walked all 18 holes to prepare himself for the week ahead. 

Since it was so late in the afternoon, Shindler pretty much had the entire course to himself as most players played their practice rounds earlier in the day. He played as a 1-some with a few caddies and players who he’s become friendly with over the years walking over to congratulate him on getting into the field.

Shindler’s caddie was still driving down from Buffalo so he met him midway through the front-9. Until then, he had an equipment rep carry his bag. 

While he was focused on getting to know the course, he was also loose. 

There was chatter in between shots about all kinds of sports besides golf, including hockey, as he is a big Dallas Stars fan and consistently checking in on Texas A&M, his alma mater, in the College World Series via updates on his phone. 

Since he was on the course so late, the agronomy team was out doing their work, and Shindler made sure to thank each and every one of them.

Each hole had a similar routine. 

Find an aiming point from the tee and hit a drive. Then from the fairway, get a yardage and hit the ball into the green while considering front and back pins. Then once on the green, Shindler’s caddie would place tees where the pins have been located over the years, and he would putt to them to get an authentic feel for what to expect. On top of that, he would hit sand shots and chips from areas where he might miss the green.

Some holes at TPC River Highlands are more straightforward than others. So on the trickier holes, Shindler spent a little more time mapping out a plan.

On one par-5, Shindler told his caddie not to let him hit a hybrid from the fairway unless an eagle was absolutely necessary. Another hole has never fit his eye, so he’s opted to take more of a conservative approach than others.

Shindler walked off the 18th green just before 7 p.m. From there, it was off to dinner and to get some rest as he will be back on the course early Wednesday morning.

Mentality for Week

Shindler only has conditional Korn Ferry Tour status, so he gets into a limited number of Korn Ferry Tour events. That said, one week on the PGA Tour can change everything.

Finish in the top 10 and get a start next week. Be lucky enough to win (yes, a Monday qualifier has won before) and get a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. Not to mention the multi-million dollar paycheck that comes with it.

“Why not? It’s happened out here. It’s happened [on the Korn Ferry Tour],” Shindler said. “I qualified for the Byron Nelson [in May] and finished 38th. If I keep doing my game plan, I have no doubt that I can have a good week.”

In addition to playing the Barbasol Championship as a sponsor’s invite, the plan for the next few months is to try and Monday qualify into as many PGA Tour events to accumulate enough FedEx Cup points to get into the Korn Ferry Tour Playoffs. 

He would need to be inside the top 200 to do so.

Why not?

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About the Author

Ryan Hannable

Read More @RyanHannable

Ryan Hannable is a copy editor on the Web Content Team for BetMGM. Previously, he was a New England Patriots beat writer for WEEI in Boston. He also has published a golf book, “The Ultimate Book of Golf Trivia: 600 Questions and Answers.”

Ryan Hannable is a copy editor on the Web Content Team for BetMGM. Previously, he was a New England Patriots beat writer for WEEI in Boston. He also has published a golf book, “The Ultimate Book of Golf Trivia: 600 Questions and Answers.”