Thanks to a rules gesture, he survived a Tour Monday qualifier. Now he might win
Peter Kuest was a surprise opening-round leader of the Rocket Mortgage Classic after a Thursday 64 left him tied with Taylor Moore.
After a cooler second-round 70, Kuest bounced back with a 65 Saturday and will start the final round in joint-fourth-place at 17 under, three behind leader Rickie Fowler.
If you’re unfamiliar with Kuest, don’t fret because he truly has come out of nowhere this week and his story is even more unlikely than most.
Kuest is a fourth-year pro with zero meaningful status on any PGA Tour-affiliated tour. He played on the Korn Ferry Tour last season but finished outside the top 125 on the points list and as a result, is so low on the priority list this season that he has yet to gain entry into any events this season.
But he has made it into three other “big tour” events this season, including a sponsor exemption into the AT&T Byron Nelson two months ago where he logged his career-best PGA Tour finish of T14.
The other two events, like this week, he got in via Monday qualifiers. Only this week’s Monday was unlike any of his others. And had it gone differently, Kuest said he’d be home in Utah fishing this weekend.
Like so many tales of those who dream to make a living on the PGA Tour, this one involves a couple of winners, Kuest included, and one unfortunate loser.
The story, which was first reported by Tony Paul of the Detroit News and later broken out by mini Tour whisperer Ryan French of MondayQ.com, starts after Kuest, Bret Stegmaier, Andy Spencer and Hayden Springer all shot 66 at Fieldstone Golf Club outside of Detroit to tie for the last three spots in the Rocket Mortgage field.
According to French, Springer had finished earlier and had returned to his rental car and reinserted a 3-iron into his bag that he switches with his 5-wood depending on course setup and conditions. When he learned he was in a four-for-three playoff, he grabbed his bag and went to the range to warm up. It was drizzling, so he placed a towel overtop of his clubs.
After Springer teed off in the playoff, he realized he had forgotten to remove the extra club from his bag. There aren’t the mass of cameras, crowds and rules officials to capture your every move at Monday Qualifier like a PGA Tour event, so Springer even briefly thought of not saying anything.
“Of course, there is that split second of thinking that no one would have ever known except for me,” he told French before quickly adding he would have never been able to sleep at night.
He told the rules official about his gaff, but this is where things start to get out of hand. Springer should have been allowed to play on with a two-shot penalty, per Rule 4.1b. But the official radioed into a colleague and both declared the playoff over and the players shook hands and picked up their balls, French reported.
But then the official quickly realized the mistake. The playoff was not over and Springer could play on with the penalty strokes. The official asked Springer if he wanted to continue and said yes, according to French, and the players replaced their balls as close as they could to their original spots in the fairway.
Ultimately, Springer couldn’t overcome the penalty and missed a 10-foot bogey putt that could have kept him alive. Kuest and Stegmaier and Spencer all were through to the tournament.
“I feel really bad for Hayden, he’s such a good dude,” Kuest said of the situation Saturday after his round. “I mean, all to him for coming out and saying he had 15 clubs. You hope everyone out there does it if that happens to them. I ended up making four and got through.”
Five days later, Kuest, Stegmaier and Kyle Reifers, the qualifying medalist, all made the cut at Detroit Golf Club, but Kuest will have the brightest spotlight on him Sunday, playing in the penultimate grouping. A two-way tie for fourth or better would earn him special temporary membership to the PGA Tour for the rest of the season. A win would make him a full-blown member.
On Saturday night, he was keeping himself grounded, not looking to get too far ahead of himself.
What could tomorrow mean for you?
“I don’t know, we’ll figure it out when we finish. We’ll get there, we’ll see when it happens.”