A Monday qualifier winning this week’s Honda Classic? That would be music to Ryan Gerard’s ears
Justin Suh, the 36-hole leader at Honda Classic, wore a polo with guitars on it Friday at PGA National.
One of the players chasing him plays the violin. Or at least used to.
Ryan Gerard, who Monday qualified into this week’s PGA Tour event, admits he hasn’t picked up the instrument since high school. They’re expensive, he notes, so he only rented one while in grade school.
“But if I win this week, I might buy one,” he added with a smile.
In violin speak, Gerard better keep rosining up that bow and playing his fiddle hard. Only five times in Tour history has a Monday qualifier gone on to win that week’s tournament. Corey Conners was the most recent player to accomplish the feat, doing so at the 2019 Valero Texas Open.
So far, so good.
With a swing that makes Matt Kuchar look steep, Gerard fired a 7-under 63 Friday, a round highlighted by a 22-foot eagle make at the par-5 third, to move into a share of third place at 8 under. He’s just two shots back of Suh.
“I think I’m in a good position,” Gerard said. “Something that I’ve really wanted to be in, in contention in a PGA Tour event. I had to go through a lot to just get to the tournament, and then get to this spot.”
After spending five years at North Carolina, Gerard, now 23, turned professional last summer and immediately qualified for the U.S. Open. He then won on PGA Tour Canada while posting two other top-4s to get into final stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School, where he earned eight guaranteed starts on the number.
A couple weeks ago, Gerard tied for third at the KFT event in Colombia, and he kept the momentum going by shooting 6 under and getting into a playoff at this week’s Monday qualifier at Tesoro Golf Club. He had to return early Tuesday morning for extra holes, and then after he punched his ticket, he had to scramble to PGA National to get a practice round in. (Luckily, Gerard has played the Champion Course multiple times during his AJGA days.)
“It’s been a little stressful … a little bit hectic,” Gerard said. “There’s such a big difference in just the infrastructure and the amount of people and all the other stuff that goes into a PGA Tour event that isn’t at a Korn Ferry event – or at least the international ones that I’ve been playing. But I feel like I’ve done a really good job of just trying to cut out all the distractions and make sure that I’m ready to play golf when I get the chance to.
“… I’ve definitely been running ever since I got through the playoff on Tuesday and excited to take a little bit of a breather here this afternoon and hopefully be a little bit later tomorrow.”
Gerard will get his wish.
And he’ll likely be in the final group as he aims to string together two more solid rounds – if not to get the trophy, and that new violin, but to at least grab a top-10 and earn a spot in the next open Tour field.
He feels prepared. After all, whether it’s been turning conditional status in Canada into a ticket to final stage of KFT Q-School, or using just four of his eight starts to secure a full schedule on the KFT, or earning his first non-major Tour start via a Monday-qualifier playoff, Gerard, at least since turning pro, has always answered the call.
“When my back’s kind of been close to up against the wall – it’s never really been there yet, but when it’s been close to being up against the wall, I’ve performed well, which is what I think is important to me and what I take a lot of pride in because you don’t really find how good you truly are or how much you truly believe in yourself until you’re faced with adversity,” Gerard said. “Haven’t really been quite there yet, but I’ve felt like every time I’ve had the opportunity to be in a position where I could change my life, I’ve done it so far.
“And would like to continue doing that.”
Play on, young fella.