Career amateur Tom Werkmeister turned a golfer’s pipe dream into reality when he finished tied for 23rd in the PGA Tour Champions Q-School in Scottsdale, AZ, by shooting a 5-under in the final round in early December to finish at 8-under overall.
His best round of the four-day tournament allowed Werkmeister, a Warren native who makes his home in Grandville, to jump up 16 spots and into the ranks of conditional status on the professional tour for age 50-plus golfers. The top-five finishers earned full-time status, while 6th-30th place earned automatic entry into all Monday qualifiers of the events on the PGA Tour Champions circuit.
“Obviously I had goals and thoughts of finishing in the top 5 (at Q-School) but the reality is this is kind of an unknown,” Werkmeister said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know where I fit in. I didn’t know if I was good enough.
“I had a good feeling going into the back 9, but the bad thing was we finished in an hour and a half and had a 30-muinute wait to tee off on No. 1, our second nine,” Werkmeister said. “I had just birdied 17 and 18 and had the momentum going, so that wait was just a buzz-kill. I salvaged a couple pars with some good putts, so just kind of coasted in on the second nine.
“It was a well-timed good round,” he added about the 5-under score. “It’s just going to build confidence for me down the road, getting backed up against a wall and forced to play good and I came through. It should do nothing but good for me.”
Werkmeister’s accomplishment comes after dominating amateur golf in Michigan the past decade. In mid-November he was named Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) Player of the Year for the second consecutive time, and sixth overall. He’s also been a six-time GAM Mid-Amateur winner, a two-time Michigan Amateur (2009, ’17) winner and a 2014 Michigan Golf Hall of Fame inductee, which came soon after his pinnacle victory at the 2013 Michigan Open against a professional field.
But it was the 2016 season that sealed Werkmeister’s decision to give the professional senior circuit a try. He was co-medalist when leading Team Michigan to the USGA State Team Championship and he won the one tournament title that had previously eluded him; the GAM Championship.
“So then I kind of thought I had accomplished pretty much everything I had wanted to in the game of golf as an amateur, so I owe it to myself to give this a try,” said Werkmeister, who must now wait until early March when he turns 50. “It really was never a consideration up until two summers ago. That’s when I cemented my decision to do it.”
By Tom Lang