Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

Busy month awaits Aiken golfer

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 2:52 PM
Last updated Thursday, June 5, 2014 1:06 AM
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If you think your summer schedule is a little hectic, consider Aiken golfer Kevin Kisner’s first two weeks of June.

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“These next two weeks will be the craziest and most exciting of my life,” Kisner admitted after finishing tied for third in Monday’s soaking marathon qualifier at Colonial Country Club in Cordova, Tenn. “My first major and first child all in the same week.”

Finish up third consecutive tournament at Memorial in Ohio on June 1.

Play 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier in the Tennessee rain on June 2.

Compete for the fourth consecutive week on the PGA Tour in Memphis June 5-8.

Return home to Aiken for the birth of your first child on June 9 (if all things go as scheduled).

Try to learn how to play one of America’s trickiest courses in one practice round June 11.

Compete in your first career major championship in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 June 12-15.

Celebrate your first Father’s Day on that last Sunday.

“These next two weeks will be the craziest and most exciting of my life,” Kisner admitted after finishing tied for third in Monday’s soaking marathon qualifier at Colonial Country Club in Cordova, Tenn. “My first major and first child all in the same week.”

That two events Kisner has spent 30 years preparing for will collide in the same week will be an adrenaline rush like no other. Brittany Kisner hasn’t traveled for three weeks as the baby’s due date (actually on Father’s Day) approaches while Kisner has been riding his hottest streak of golf in three seasons as a PGA Tour card holder.

Through mini and developmental tours right up to the big time, the Kisners have learned to roll with whatever comes along.

“My wife has been a trouper all these years from the mini tours until now so she knows how important the golf is,” Kisner said. “We had a plan and this is our plan if this happened and it happened. So we’re just going to go with our plan and it will all work out.”

As big a deal as qualifying for his first career major championship is, it takes a back seat in priority to starting their family.

“The most important part is having a child and being there when it’s born and the rest of it is nothing compared to that,” Kisner said. “There’s plenty of U.S. Opens to play in.”

Kisner played 36 holes on Monday in 8-under par despite some grizzly weather and a phone that never stopped attracting messages while he tried to play his final nine holes in some torrential downpours. He had to keep it on to remain in contact with his wife, but the USGA did him no favors by not posting any of his numbers on the live-scoring Web site after his first round.

“I was so slow on the last nine holes because I was checking my phone because I have it on just in case something happened to her,” he said. “I had my agent texting me: ‘What’s going on? Nobody knows. Is play suspended?’”

Despite all the distraction, Kisner made six birdies in his second round, including three in the hardest rain on his last nine. Despite a three-putt bogey on his 35th hole, he finished just two shots behind fellow former Georgia golfer Hudson Swafford.

He immediately texted his wife: “We’re gonna have the baby on June 9.”

“She knew exactly what it meant and she called me and said, ‘Your son’s playing his very first major next week,’” Christy Kisner, his mother, said. “We’re just very excited.”

It was the first time in a handful of career U.S. Open qualifiers that Kisner finally broke through. He attributes his success to the confidence he’s built recently on the PGA Tour, including a career-best tie for sixth in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., last month.

“I’ve gotten a lot of confidence in my game in the last five or six months,” said Kisner, who’s won twice on the developmental Nationwide/Web.com tours. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement and seen myself do things that you’ve got to do to compete on the PGA Tour. I’ve just kind of taken the confidence and run with it.

“Like any other job, the more you do it the more comfortable you’re going to get – not only only doing what you’re doing but the atmosphere. Anybody who says experience is not needed is crazy. Every experience I have on the PGA Tour is helpful.”

Kisner hopes his first taste of major competition will provide another valuable lesson in his career progress.

“I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully get myself into contention and get the blood flowing and put myself in a position where I can see what I’ve got,” he said.

Qualifying for his first major being played only a few hours up the road from his hometown of Aiken was a big motivator. With much of his family in Aiken and Charlotte, a good crowd of followers is expected.

“Of any of the Opens I could probably play in, this is the one I definitely wanted to get into being close to home and close to where I’ve played a lot of golf in my career in the Pinehurst area,” he said. “I had this one on my list when I saw it on the schedule and I’m excited to get the chance to go play.”

Kisner can’t recall the last time he played Pinehurst’s famous No. 2 course. He won’t have much time to get to know the recently restored golf course, but he does have a little something in his favor. His caddie, Duane Bock, won the 1992 North and South Amateur championship on No. 2.

“So he should coach me up pretty good,” Kisner said.

With the schedule he’s got immediately ahead of him, Kisner is going to need all the help he can get.

“We’re going to have to have full team support in the next week or so,” he said.

One thing’s for certain, it will be a week the Kisners will never forget.

“What a Father’s Day gift,” his mother said.


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