Meet Peter Kuest, the Monday qualifier with a chance to win Rocket Mortgage Classic

Meet Peter Kuest, the Monday qualifier with a chance to win Rocket Mortgage Classic
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Rickie Fowler will certainly demand most of the headlines as he takes a one-shot lead into Sunday’s final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. But it’s also hard to ignore arguably the second best story through 54 holes.

That would be Peter Kuest, the 25-year-old BYU product who Monday-qualified into this week’s event at Detroit Golf Club.

Kuest is tied with Aaron Rai for fourth at 17 under, within striking distance of Fowler’s 20-under mark. After opening in 8-under 64 Thursday, Kuest added a third-round 65 Saturday to re-enter the conversation. He hit 16 greens, eagled the par-5 14th hole and birdied each of the four par-3s.

“It’s just the mindset coming out here, you know, you’ve got to make birdies,” said Kuest, who leads the field in driving distance (334.7 yards) while ranking 18th or better in strokes gained off the tee, approach and putting. “Yesterday’s behind us, I can’t do anything about it, can’t change the score, so I can only do what I can today. Try to keep putting good swings on it and see what happens.”

Because of Sunday’s weather forecast, the final-round tee times were moved up with Kuest going off in the penultimate threesome at 8:45 a.m. ET.

Before Kuest tees off, get to know a little bit about how he got here:

Painting a picture

When Kuest began high school at Clovis West, the rival high school of Bryson DeChambeau’s alma mater Clovis East, he was primarily a baseball player, though he also was a single-digit handicap. As a freshman, Kuest battled injuries, and he was quickly talked into joining the golf team.

Not that Kuest took golf seriously right after that. He also played soccer, and in his free time, he loved to fish, ski and hang out with friends. But one day before his junior year, Kuest came home to find some painter’s clothes laid out on his bed. Kuest’s father was a painting contractor, and with his son’s aspirations all over the place, he left with the clothes a note that read, You can go all-in on something or you can come work for me.

Kuest picked golf, and he never looked back.

Prolific winner

Though Kuest was lightly recruited, he landed at one of the top mid-major programs in college golf, BYU. It was a perfect fit for Kuest, who could break from golf to fish in the nearby Provo River or go skiing at Sundance Mountain. He spent most of his time wearing out the team’s range and practice green.

Kuest ended up winning 10 times in four years for the Cougars, including eight times in his final three semesters and change before his senior campaign was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When Peter came here, he wanted to be the best golfer he could be, and he’s done that,” BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank said. “He’s given us everything he’s had, worked his tail off and played some great golf.”

Entering the unknown

Kuest could’ve returned to BYU for a fifth year in 2020-21, but much like Pepperdine’s Sahith Theegala, Kuest opted to be one of the few seniors who would turn pro in the middle of a pandemic with nowhere to play.

Eventually Kuest received six PGA Tour sponsor exemptions that year. But he missed five of those cuts. He then headed to Europe in 2021 and made a handful of Challenge Tour starts. His best finish there was T-14. He broke through to earn conditional status at Korn Ferry Tour Q-School at the end of 2021, but in his KFT debut season the following year, Kuest made just over half of his 16 cuts with only one top-30, a T-5 at the Utah Championship. Kuest lost his KFT card after that season.

“There are a lot more talented guys out there than me, so I have to make it up with my work ethic,” Kuest said at the time. “But that’s fine, that’s how I was raised. I was raised to work.”

This year, Kuest has found some success in PGA Tour Monday qualifiers, getting through three of them, including for this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. He also received a sponsor invite into the AT&T Byron Nelson, where he posted a T-14 finish.

Full-field scores from Rocket Mortgage Classic

Helped by an extra club

Kuest might not even be in the field this week at Detroit Golf Club had it not been for an extra club.

During this week’s Monday qualifier, Kuest shot 66 at Fieldstone Golf Club to get into a 4-for-3 playoff with Andy Spencer, Bret Stegmaier and Hayden Springer. After just one playoff hole, Springer was eliminated with a double bogey despite hitting just four shots on the par-4 first hole. How is that possible? Well, Springer was assessed a two-shot penalty for having 15 clubs in his bag. According to Monday Q Info’s Ryan French, Springer accidentally put a 3-iron –he usually travels with the club as an option to replace his 5-wood – back in his bag after completing his 18 holes of regulation. When he went to the range to warm up for the playoff, it was raining, and the towel Springer had draped over his clubs was covering up the 15th club.

Springer discovered the 3-iron after hitting his drive on the playoff hole. Initially, the playoff was called shortly after Springer notified a rules official. But after further discussion, the players all resumed the hole. Springer missed a 15-footer for bogey to narrowly miss extending the playoff with Stegmaier, who bogeyed to advance along with Spencer and Kuest.

“I feel really bad for Hayden, he’s such a good dude,” Kuest said. “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.”

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