Golf Galaxy employee sinks three pints and then survives a marathon playoff to earn a PGA Tour start

Mark McGowan

Nick Bienz at Indiana University Indianapolis (Pic: IUPUI Athletics)

Mark McGowan

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Golf Galaxy store worker Nick Bienz has become an overnight sensation after successfully navigating Monday Qualifying for the PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.

With four places up for grabs, Bienz shot 65, mixing in five birdies and an eagle to tie the clubhouse lead with two others and begin the nervous wait to see whether the score would hold up.

His final birdie of regulation play would see him roll in a 12-footer on the 18th and in an interview with Ryan Franch, aka Monday Q Info on ‘X’, Bienz admitted that he’d blacked out and couldn’t recall making the actual putt.

“I couldn’t even tell you what happened,” he told French, “I couldn’t tell you what the read was, I don’t know any bit of it. I was just trying to…. and my guy in there [one of his playing partners] was telling me ‘just stick to your routine, just stick to your process. This is what it’s for’. So I was like, yeah, let’s do that and I still blacked out.”

To calm the nerves, Bienz began downing pints. He was working on pint number two when he sat with French and was three deep – cloudy IPAs by the looks of it – and admitted that the tension was excruciating.

“I need every once of alcohol right now to calm the nervous system and not vomit on myself, so that’s where we are right now,” he explained.

And the nerves were about to be further ratcheted up when two more players matched his 65, meaning there was still work to do and a five-for-four playoff to navigate with Beau Breault, Danny Guise, Brandon Berry and Angelo Giantsopolous.

Berry birdied the first playoff hole to lock up his spot, and on the sixth, Giantsopolous would hole a monster 40-footer to leave three battling for the final two. The would get as far as the eighth hole where Guise would make birdie, Breault would make par, and Bienz would be left with a four-footer for a birdie of his own and to put an end to the marathon playoff.

He’d hole it, but again, was unable to accurately convey the immediate emotions on locking up his first PGA Tour start.

“I blacked out over the last putt,” he admitted again. “I blacked out on the birdie putt on 18 in regulation too so I really don’t know.”

Bienz played college golf at Indiana University-Indianapolis (formerly IUPUI), graduating in 2019, and won the Indiana Open last year, so his talent is evident, but professional golf is a cutthroat business and he had to get through the pre-qualifier just to make it to the Monday Qualifier for the Rocket Mortgage Classic and was intending to tee it up in the pre-Qualifier for the John Deere Classic on Friday.

In between, he was due to work three shifts at Golf Galaxy where he’d practice for two hours on the TrackMan bays either before or after his shift.

“I have to call my boss and call out of work tomorrow,” Bienz said. “I’m supposed to be there at 7:30 in the morning, and I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Instead, he’ll head to Detroit Golf Club to register and start his prep before teeing off in Thursday’s first round, and as the news of his exploits began to go viral, Kevin Kisner – a man who makes no secret of his fondness for a beer – put his hand up to be paired with Bienz as he makes the the first PGA Tour-sanctioned start of his career.

“I didn’t even pack clothes for this week,” Bienz said. “Every time I’d go to a Monday for a Korn Ferry Event, I used to pack like eight days’ worth of clothes; never made it through, so now I’ve gone to the strategy of pack just enough for the Monday and we’ll figure it out if we need to.”

Well, it’s time to figure it out, but somehow I don’t see him struggling to attract sponsors this week.

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