For the average golfer, making a 10-foot putt to wrap up a personal-best round comes with more than a little bit of nervous energy. Imagine that same putt for a shot to play in a PGA major.
For Micah Rudosky, head professional at Conquistador Golf Course in Cortez, the pressure of such an opportunity brought out his best in the qualifying tournament at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where Rudosky finished among the top 35 in the field of PGA Club Professionals to land a coveted spot in next year’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Rudosky outlasted a field of 264 competitors to finish in a tie for 16th, and prepares to join some of the household names in the world of professional golf for a second consecutive year.
“The fire came back,” said Rudosky, in reference to transitioning from competing against a younger crop of PGA professionals to being one of the ‘“younger guys” on the senior circuit.
“I recognized that I could balance the lifestyle of playing less with still trying to compete at a high level while I still can,” he said.
Playing on two courses in the first two rounds of the qualifying tournament, Rudosky joined some of the nation’s best club professionals on Port St. Lucie’ s Wanamaker and Ryder layouts Oct 21-24.
Starting on the tougher of the two courses, the Wanamaker, Rudosky opened with a +4 round of 76 and found himself in danger of not making the day-two cut, which would shave the field down to 90 players.
Day two, however, was a different story. Rudosky drained five birdies on the Ryder course, and posted one of the best scores to par by any competitor in the field (-4, 67) to skyrocket up the leaderboard and find himself well within the cut line.
Not done there, Rudosky atoned for a slow start on Wanamaker, and posted a bogey-free 67 to move into a tie for 11th, and a qualifying spot well within sight.
“I just played well,” said Rudosky of his back-to-back 67s, “even with some more difficult conditions.”
On the final day, the Cortez local overcame a slower start, coming up with birdies on two of his final four holes to secure a spot with a 73, and a 3-under par over the four rounds. It capped off a week in which Rudosky finished -5 on the par 5s to lift him among the frontrunners.
“I knew where I had positioned myself (after three rounds),” said Rudosky of his nervy finish, “and even after a couple of mistakes, I was able to pull the round together in the end.”
Last May, at Southern Hills Golf Course in Tulsa, Rudosky made his Senior PGA Championship debut, finishing 13 over par, just six shots shy of making the 36-hole cut. On the rigorous course layout, only seven players wrapped up the weekend under par, and Rudosky finished in front of PGA legends Jeff Maggert, Scott Hoch, Corey Pavin and Tom Kite.
“I really enjoyed getting out there and playing with some of those guys,” said Rudosky, “and I definitely learned how I want to manage my preparation in the week leading up to the tournament.”
Continuing a strong 2021, Rudosky also picked up a victory in the Colorado PGA Professional Championship in Colorado Springs on the Eisenhower Golf Club Blue Course. Rudosky topped a field of PGA Club Professionals from across the Centennial State, posting a three-day total of -3 to win by two strokes.
Qualification for the PGA Club Professionals tournament requires advancing through a sectional, which with his win in the Colorado sectional, Rudosky advances to the national qualifying tournament. He’ll have a chance to earn a spot in his second PGA Championship – and his first since 2007 – with a top-20 performance in a tournament at Barton Creek Country Club in Austin, Texas in April.
Even with his success and extensive travels, Rudosky still prioritizes his time as head professional at Conquistador, and the strong relationships he’s developed with the local members.
“It’s been fun,” said Rudosky of the community support he’s received that accompanies his success, “I’ve had a lot of friends who have been following along, and I appreciate their support through this.”
The 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship kicks off Thursday, May 26 in Benton Harbor, Michigan, just 90 minutes away from Chicago. The field will shrink after Friday’s round, with the champion to be crowned on Sunday, May 29th.
“It’s going to be a demanding golf course,” said Rudosky, “everything a championship course should be, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”