Ashburn, VA (July 14, 2016) – Getting to play in a PGA Tour event is every golfers dream, but playing in a Web.com Tour event would be next on the list. As the official developmental circuit for the big stage, many of today’s stars rose through the ranks on this tour first.
Former Middleburg Academy golfer and recent Virginia Tech graduate Maclain Huge, 22, made this dream a reality as he Monday Qualified into the Tour’s LECOM Health Challenge held from July 7-10 on the Upper Course at the Peek’n Peak Resort in Findley Lake, N.Y.
“My dad actually found this one for me, it was the halfway point between graduation and Q-School, we decided to play in the qualifier and kind of just to see where the game is,” said Huge, who made the trip to New York with his father.
With 138 players competing for 12 spots on the Lower Course at Peek’n Peak on Monday, the Lovettesville native fired an impressive 65 (-7), finishing tied for fifth and one shot inside the cutline of 6-under. Known for his uncanny distance off the tee, he was able to effectively manage the short Lower Course with his dad on the bag.
“I set a goal of 62 and told myself to just keep the pedal down,” Huge said. “Surprisingly I never really got nervous because I was always trying to get one more birdie. At the end of the day it was 65 shots.”
Although Huge played in the qualifier as an amateur and had intended on remaining an amateur through the summer, he decided Tuesday morning after he had qualified that he would in fact enter the event as a professional. Professional debuts on a tour as prestigious as the Web.com are incredibly rare, as most pros grind for several years on the mini tours before having a chance on the big stage.
“The Tuesday and Wednesday was a lot of fun, just being out there and practicing with all the tour vans around, I felt like a free agent because I’m not signed with anybody and different companies were coming up to me,” he said.
Two bad swings that led to a double bogey and a triple bogey on his outward nine in the second round proved costly. However, he made a strong showing with eight birdies and two eagles over the two rounds. He also impressed with his distance off the tee, averaging 329.5 in driving over the two rounds.
Using a similar strategy as the Monday Qualifier, setting low goals and chasing birdies, he was able to minimize the nerves as he was forced to stay on the gas. In the opening round, he got up and down from the bunker on the first hole and birdied the second, which also helped to calm the nerves of the big stage right away.
“I was nervous in the down time thinking about all the ‘what ifs,’ but once I got out on the range and started playing there was no nerves. The first round was pretty steady, just one three putt and one bad swing, that was really it,” said Huge about an opening round that consisted of three birdies and an eagle.
Despite the two big numbers in the second round that set him back, Huge recovered with four birdies on the inward nine to give himself a chance to stick around for the weekend.
“I just said to myself, alright, I have nine holes left, the cutline is 4-under and I’m at even right now,” he said. “I got to three-under through seven holes on the back and then they blew the horn.”
Due to weather and darkness delays, he sat at 3-under overnight on Friday with two holes left to play, knowing he needed to make a birdie on one of the last two holes Saturday morning. He was unable to complete the task, but he posted two pars en route to a very respectable outing.
“Coming out of it, the confidence is extremely high,” he said, “just seeing how I hit the ball compared to some of the other guys, because you see the guys on TV and hear their names, but I’m hitting the ball just as good if not better than some of them. It was just two swings that cost me from making the cut. I didn’t really see any huge gap between them and I, which was cool.”
Huge was actually singed up for the Southern Amateur this week in Myrtle beach, but with his amateur status now out the window, he is working on restructuring his schedule between now and Web.com Tour Qualifying School beginning this fall.
“I definitely want to get back out there now that I’ve gotten a taste of it, I can compete with these guys,” Huge said. “Playing that course with the grandstands set up, the TV cameras, it’s a lot of fun and a lot different than amateur tournaments.”
After finishing 11th all-time in scoring at Virginia Tech, winning the Virginia State Amateur in 2015, winning three high school state titles, and now qualifying for an event on one of the world’s top tours, Huge is well on his way to a successful career.
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Written by Josh Apple
Special to Viva Loudoun
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