January 3, 2011
McQuillan keen to make PGA debutBut Kingston native doesn't know when that may be
By IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The plan right now is for Matt McQuillan to play in his first-ever PGA Tour event at next week's Sony Open in Hawaii, but maybe not. Wherever McQuillan does make his debut, television ratings will spike at least somewhat as the historic city of Kingston tunes in.
His homies sure had the social media outlets buzzing as they watched McQuillan, 29, tie for 16th at qualifying school last month, which touched off a flood of e-mails and phone calls.
"I've had just great support and it was definitely magnified after Q-school. Everybody had their well wishes and I appreciate all of them," he said. "It's great to have lots of followers and people's support and I just hope I can perform well."
Before he does that, he has to know when he'll get a chance to perform. He's No. 31 on the priority list for getting into tournaments, which means, at least early in the season, McQuillan will have to wait until the Friday before each event before knowing if he's in or out.
Still, he's taking care of business. Last week, McQuillan was in the California desert, playing practice rounds for the Bob Hope Classic, another tournament he hopes to get into after the Sony. Whatever event marks his debut, McQuillan is armed with the confidence of a solid performance at Q-school.
"I'm sure it will be pretty overwhelming at first, but I think once the first tee shot is hit, I'll settle in nicely. I've always been pretty good at doing that," said McQuillan, now happy that he decided to return to golf after a two-year absence.
Before earning his card, McQuillan had taken a couple of stabs at Q-school, the previous try coming in 2005, but he took off the 2007 and 2008 seasons to work at home.
"It was financial issues. I just ran out of money and I felt a little tired of asking people for it," he said.
"Working in Kingston over those two years made me realize how good I had it playing golf for a living and I was getting keen about getting out there again and was fortunate enough to find some support from home," McQuillan said.
Much of that local support came from members at the Garrison Golf and Curling Club, where McQuillan played most of his life, so he set out once again, mostly playing the eGolf mini-tour around the Carolinas and the Canadian Tour, so his rocket to the PGA Tour seems somewhat unlikely.
"I do see where people are coming from with that," he admitted.
"I've been playing competitive golf for a number of years and always realized I had the potential to get to the next level, but without performing, you start to have some self-doubts, but I had a lot of support from back home and people believed in me that I can do it and finally believed it myself," McQuillan added.
After his 11-under performance at Q-school, he says his confidence is solid, but it was a little shaky at the beginning.
"It was, probably going into the first stage," he said. "I hadn't played particularly well most of the year. There were some good tournaments, but not as many as I'd like."
Towards the end of the season, McQuillan and Kevin Dickey, who has been his coach for 16 years, decided it was not only time for some minor swing changes, but also some attitude adjustment.
"It was mostly being more positive on the course and accepting that mistakes are going to happen and all you can do is move forward," he said.
Move forward he will, if not next week then likely the week after, but even though most people in the gallery won't know him, McQuillan knows there are familiar faces back home giving him an added push.