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Eight more professionals qualify for Live and Work at Maine Open

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YORK — Dylan Naidoo had to spend 15 hours sitting on a plane. He then had to spend five more hours in a car, all for a chance to play in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Live and Work Maine Open this week.

However, once he got to Maine, Naidoo made his trip worth every minute.

Naidoo, a South African, was one of seven players to shoot a five-under 67 in a qualifying event at The Ledges Golf Club, earning him entry into the tournament that begins Thursday at Falmouth Country Club. The Korn Ferry Tour is the development circuit of the PGA Tour.

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“I played very well,” he said. “Honestly, I’m super happy. This is my first Monday qualifier so getting in is great. I know how difficult these things are.”

They joined Naidoo with 5 years under Dominic Bozzelli (Auburn, Alabama), Joshua McCarthy (Danville, California), Mark Lawrence (Richmond, Virginia), Colin Monagle (Jacksonville Beach, Florida), Daniel Hudson (Chicago), and Barrett Kelpin ( Kalamazoo, Mich.).

Ryan Gerard (Stuart, Fla.) and Andy Pope (Glen Ellyn, Illinois) tied for eighth at 4 under, with Gerard prevailing in a tiebreaker with a pair for eighth and final place. All qualified players are professionals.

For Naidoo, the performance sealed his first appearance at a Korn Ferry Tour event and he faced an odyssey to get here. He took a flight from Johannesburg to France, and then another to Newark, New Jersey, arriving in the United States on Friday. On Saturday, he made the trip from New Jersey to Maine.

Why go through the trouble? Naidoo needed a chance to play and Maine provided it.

“It makes it worth it, all the long hours,” said Naidoo, who had six birdies and one bogey. “This place, to me, feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere. You go through all these obstacles, and playing well like that means a lot.”

He wasn’t the only one of the 131 scorers to make the long trip to The Ledges. Monagle traveled more than 1,000 miles from North Florida, but made it a rewarding ride by going up in flames in the first nine after starting from behind.

Even on the turn, the 30-year-old Monagle birdied the second, third and fourth holes, then sank birdie putts on the seventh and nine to book his ticket to his fourth professional event. Monagle’s experience includes Korn Ferry tournaments and a PGA Tour event in Puerto Rico.

“All day I was thinking ‘Just find a way to get to 5 (under),’” said Monagle, who played in the Korn Ferry tournament in Illinois in late May. “It’s huge. … I came here and picked up where I left off.”

His playing partner, Lawrence, qualified despite playing with a wrist still recovering from an injury that sidelined him from November to May. Lawrence made four birdies on his first nine to put himself in position to make the cut.

“I was really looking forward to getting started and hopefully playing well enough to play a few more events for the rest of the year,” he said. “There are a lot of positives to get out of it. It was a good day, a good couple of days here. I really like the golf course.”

The 6,855-yard course got more difficult as the day went on.

“I think the afternoon wave had it a little bit harder,” said Naidoo. “It was a little windy and the greens were firming up a lot, so it wasn’t that easy.”

One of the players who prevailed in the tougher conditions was Hudson, who experienced a career breakthrough by qualifying for his first pro event in seven attempts.

“This is my sixth Korn Ferry (offer) in the last eight weeks,” he said. “I’ve been knocking on the door, knocking on the door. It feels good to do it.”

Hudson said he didn’t try to make cut projections on his head.

“I just think as soon as you start doing that, you start thinking about things that you shouldn’t be thinking about,” he said. “I just try to go out there and shoot as low as possible. If it’s good enough, it’s good enough.”

Some of the local hopefuls in the field encountered some setbacks and challenges. South Freeport’s Jack Wyman, the 2017 and 2018 Maine amateur champion, was the best Maine player on the course at 2-under, and though he hit an eagle on the par-5, the seventh was thwarted by a missed 6-putt. feet for birdie on the 18th which, for now, would have kept their qualifying hopes alive.

“There’s definitely (wanting to play in Maine), but more so the opportunity to play with some of the best players in the world,” he said. But it’s okay. Sometimes you win, you lose something. I just have to move on.

Falmouth Country Club pro Shawn Warren entered the qualifier hoping to be on the field for the event at his home course, but slipped on the wet turf on Saturday and injured his back. His back was still tight Monday and Warren played nine holes before leaving the course.

“The last couple of days I’ve been trying Advil, ice and a lot of heat to try and loosen it up,” he said. “With the whole season still ahead of me, it was one of those seasons where it wasn’t worth pushing.

“I definitely wanted to play well today and be able to pass. I’m still looking forward to having the tournament, and I’m excited to see all the guys come out. Hopefully, next year, do it again.”


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