Poker might be a tough way to make a living, but there are other areas that it could be argued are even tougher. In particular, the world of professional golf is a highly competitive endeavor in which the players have to climb a ladder to reach the pinnacle of the game. Recently, a poker player who has had a bit of success has attempted to make the move to the professional golf world, stunning his competitors with his performance…but there’s a while to go yet before he is considered a “professional” golfer.
Shooting 60 ANYWHERE is Impressive
On August 25, poker player Dustin Denzik stepped to the tee at the Lake Caroline Country Club in Madison, MS, for the first step in making his way to the Korn Ferry Tour. This pre-qualifier tournament was simply for players to be able to make their move to the next step in the qualifying process, one of twelve “first stage” qualifiers across the States of America. In that first round of three rounds in Mississippi, Denzik set the golf world afire.
In that first round, Denzik fired a 60 on the par-72 course, a feat that has only been topped a few times in professional golf and it seems only at its upper echelons. The best score in a professional golf tournament was shot by Jim Furyk in 2016. On the par-70 course at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, Furyk shot the best score ever in tournament golf, a 58 that consisted of 10 birdies, an eagle, and seven pars.
There have been nine other occasions where a golfer shot under 60. For decades, Al Geiberger held the record after he shot a 59 at the 1977 Memphis Classic. That feat earned him the nickname “Mr. 59” and it was the standard for years. Since Geiberger pulled off the feat, other players such as Chip Beck, David Duval, Paul Goydos, Stuart Appleby, Justin Thomas, Adam Hadwin, Brandt Snedecker and Furyk (again) also have a 59 to their credit.
In Denzik’s case, his 60 catapulted him to advancement in his attempts to qualify for the Korn Ferry Tour. Over the three rounds of the pre-qualifier, Denzik shot -15 under par to finish second among the 32 players who qualified for the next round. Denzik will now face First Stage qualifying at one of twelve host courses. Deducing from his pre-qual in Mississippi and his home in LaGrange, KY, First Stage host courses in Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina are likely landing spots for Denzik; those events will be held later in September.
Close Relations Between Sports and Poker
The relationship between poker and sports is not as distant as you might think. Many are aware that the legendary Doyle Brunson was once considered for the National Basketball Association’s Minneapolis Lakers before that unfortunate sheetrock accident. Additionally, other poker players such as Gus Hansen (tennis) and Erick Lindgren (basketball) also had a dalliance with other sports.
The trend of former athletes to poker has been much more evident. Erica Schoenberg went from being a highly successful professional volleyball player to an extremely dangerous poker professional. Fatima Moreira de Melo went from the field hockey pitch to poker tables around the world very successfully. Tennis Grand Slam champion Boris Becker, three-time Super Bowl Champion Richard Seymour and World Series (baseball) pitcher Orel Hershiser all have had success on the green baize.
Denzik has a way to go before he can claim success in making the transition from poker to professional golf. His lifetime earnings in poker only amount to a bit more than $66,000. As a method of comparison, qualifying rounds for the Korn Ferry Tour can cost upwards of $5000 a pop or more. Getting through the first step is an achievement, however, and we wish Denzik success as he tries to move up the ladder.