Golfers chasing PGA ticket

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FLEMING ISLAND - With the weekend providing a drenching of rain, golf enthusiasts can only hope the weather will dry up for the week as a flurry of golf action in Clay County and north Florida will highlight a schedule of qualifying rounds of play at both Eagle Harbor Golf Club and Fleming Island Golf Club.

“The next two weeks, there are a host of tournaments designed to kick start the PGA TOUR season after the pandemic shutdown,” said Charles Raulerson, golf pro at Fleming Island Golf Club. “Golfers will be here for up to three weeks with opportunities to get a qualifying score to play in

Raulerson, a pro golfer for 17 years who retired in 2004, understands the rigors of golfers looking to get on to the PGA Tour. Raulerson was on the Nike Tour 1995-98, the PGA TOUR 1999-2001 and has been at Fleming Island Golf Club the past seven years as a teaching pro.

“The next two weeks is kind of a jump start to the restart of the PGA TOUR,” said Raulerson. “The Korn Ferry Tour, which is the way to the PGA Tour, has two events in June in north Florida.”

With the PGA, more the coronavirus pandemic, taking away north Florida’s biggest golf showcase, THE PLAYERS at Sawgrass, in March, golfers from around the world will once again descend on north Florida with hopes of nailing a coveted PGA invite.

“The Korn Ferry Tour is the No. 2 tour on the PGA TOUR,” said Raulerson. “The Korn Ferry Tour replaces the Web.com Tour, the previous qualifying route to the PGA.”

For Fleming Island Golf Club, the Unbridled Tour, which is the underling of the Korn Ferry Tour, will take place this week; Tues., June 9 through Thurs., June 11.

“There is only one way to the PGA Tour and that’s the Korn Ferry Tour,” said Raulerson. “The Unbridled Tour follows the Korn Ferry because it has a handful of qualifying slots that players can play in the Korn Ferry at upcoming events. The whole goal is to get to the PGA.”

Raulerson noted that golfers previously had the Web.com and Nike tours to get their shot into the PGA.

“Back when I played the Web.com and Nike Tours, you could go to both,” said Raulerson. “Then there was just the PGA Tour; 50 guys would make it to the PGA Tour, the rest would go to the Web.com Tour.”

At Eagle Harbor Golf Club and also Palencia Golf Club in St. Johns County, Mon., June 8-Tues., June 9, both sites will stage events this week with four golfers from each event out of up to 250 players able to land a PGA slot at TPC and also World Golf Village a week later; both Korn Ferry Tour events.

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Mon.-Tues., June 8-9: Eagle Harbor Golf Club and Palencia host qualifiers for Korn Ferry events.

Tues.-Thurs., June 9-11: Fleming Island Golf Course hosts Unbridled Tour sponsored by By Your Side Senior Care. $20,000 first place prize.

Thurs.-Sun., June 11-14: Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass, purse $600,000

Wed.-Sat., June 17-20: The King and Bear Classic at World Golf Village, purse $600,000

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Raulerson’s Unbridled Tour tournament at Fleming Island Golf Club will take the bulk of the up to 156 players that did not get a top 10 finish at the Eagle Harbor and Palencia events and give them a second chance to get another shot at a Korn Ferry Tour opportunity.

“We are expecting 132-156 players here at Fleming Island Golf Club; two rounds, 36 holes and make a cut and those who make the cut will play on the final day, Thursday,” said Raulerson. “First prize is about $20,000 and downward.”

The Korn Ferry Event gives out $108,000 to the winner. Eagle Harbor and Palencia are just qualifiers and will have no prize money. The Korn Ferry event is a Thurs.-Sun. Tournament at TPC Sawgrass. The Korn Ferry Tour stays in Florida for one additional week with an event the following week at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine.

“It’s two mega-events in the Jacksonville area to kick off the PGA season,” said Raulerson. “It just happens that the Unbridled Tour offers an additional opportunity to move on after all that. Two Mondays in a row, golfers can qualify.”

Raulerson’s Unbridled Tour, sponsored by By Your Side Senior Care, is a second chance for golfers to get to the second Korn Ferry event at the World Golf Village.

“At Eagle Harbor and Palencia, there will be 150 or so golfers looking to get 8-12 spots to move up,” said Raulerson. “The selected players at those two sites get to play at the Korn Ferry event at TPC the following week. That event at TPC is the first PGA event since the PGA restarted after the pandemic shutdown.”

Raulerson noted that former Middleburg High state champion Cody Carroll, now at University of North Florida, is scheduled to compete with Tommy Murray, 32, a Fleming Island Golf Club player, getting a sponsor invite from By Your Side Senior Care.

“Tommy Murray is a very accomplished golfer out of this area and this club,” said Raulerson. “Also competing will be Andrew Lonsdale, a good young player out of Fleming Island High School. Cody shot a 68 today and is playing strong.”

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