BY MIKE FIELDS
After Chip McDaniel fired a 6-under-par 66 to make the cut in the Barbasol Championship Saturday in his first-ever PGA TOUR start, his brother/caddie made a bold prediction.
“You guys are just seeing the start of a 30-year career with this kid,” Todd McDaniel said. “He’s going to do some big things, there’s no doubt about it. He’s got a way to go, but he’s got all the talent in the world. It’s just a matter of time before you see another kid like Justin Thomas out of him.”
Chip showed big-time potential when he won the Junior PGA Championship five years ago, and a couple Kentucky State Amateur titles. At UK, he showed he could compete with the best college players.
It’s a quantum leap from college to the PGA TOUR, but McDaniel showed Saturday he’s not afraid to take that leap.
After carding a 2-over 74 Thursday in the first round of the Barbasol Championship, he knew he had to go low to have a chance at making the cut.
McDaniel’s dad and brother figured he had maybe a 10% chance of doing it, but they didn’t tell him that.
McDaniel said it was to his benefit that, because of severe storms, his second round was reset from Friday to Saturday. “It gave me a day to relax mentally, kind of gather myself and figure out a game plan.”
That game plan included getting off to a fast start, and he did just that.
“I was 3-under through five with an eagle,” he said. “That was really huge.”
He birdied his first hole (he started on No. 10) and eagled the par-5 14th. He hit a 6-iron to within 12 feet and made the putt.
“That really got me going,” he said. “I felt really comfortable the rest of the day.”
He wound up making the cut on the number: 4-under par.
His dad, Todd, said he could sense a “quiet determination” in his son. He also thought having his older brother on the bag helped.
“Chip’s quiet; Todd’s the talker. Chip is a feel player; Todd’s an engineer and analytical, really good at reading elevation and putts. They work well together.
“I told them I didn’t want to have to come out there and get between them,” dad added with a laugh. “I’ve been known to do that.”
Older brother Todd, who played golf at UK from 2011-15, wasn’t surprised Chip delivered. “He’s just clutch. He’s always been clutch.”
One bonus that came with making the cut: McDaniel won’t have to go through Q school’s pre-qualifier. He’s automatically in the first stage.
So it worked out great that the Barbasol Championship gave McDaniel and fellow UK grad Cooper Musselman (who also made the cut) exemptions into the field.
McDaniel’s dad certainly appreciated the gesture.
“The main thrill of all this is that the PGA (TOUR) came to Lexington, Kentucky,” Todd said. “Then my kid and Cooper, just out of college, got to play in it. I told both boys what an opportunity they were given. Things like this just don’t happen.”