The theme might as well have been, "Go low, or go home."
Former Michigan State golfer Francesco Ruffino, from Bloomfield Hills, shot a 9-under-par 63 at TPC Michigan in Dearborn on Tuesday to take top honors in the pre-qualifier for next week's Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.
Ruffino and 28 others advanced out of Tuesday's pre-qualifier and into next Monday's final qualifier for the inaugural PGA Tour tournament in the City of Detroit.
Next Monday's qualifier will include about 70 entrants at The Orchards in Washington Township, where four spots will be up for grabs for the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
More than 150 participated in the pre-qualifier, with the top 29 — top 25 and ties were all to move on — finishing under par.
Among them was Cristian DiMarco, the son of Chris DiMarco, who might be best known for finishing runner-up to Tiger Woods, losing in a playoff, at the 2005 Masters. DiMarco shot a 3-under 69.
Also among those qualifying: Westland's Cody Haughton, a pro at Red Run in Royal Oak; Canton's Donnie Trosper, who plays at Michigan State; Caledonia's Brett White, who played at Eastern Michigan; Grand Haven's Eric Wohlfield, a pro at Macatawa Legends in Holland; Kalamazoo's Josh Burt, a pro at Gull Lake in Richland; Farmington Hills' Joe Hooks, who played at Wayne State; Livonia's Sammy Spayd; Milford's Richard Saferian; and Grand Rapids' Ben VanScoyk, who played at Calvin College.
1. Francesco Ruffino (Bloomfield Hills), 63
2. Wes Homan (Beastville, Ohio), 65
T3. Alex Weiss (Pickerington, Ohio), 66
T3. Ben Albin (Santa Fe, N.M.), 66
T3. Cristian DiMarco (St Augustine, Fla.), 66
T3. Cody Haughton (Westland), 66
T7. Donnie Trosper (amateur; Canton), 67
T7. Brett White (Caledonia), 67
T7. Matthew Hill (Jupiter, Fla.), 67
T10. Russell Budd (Toronto), 68
T10. Raymond Knoll (Naperville, Ill.), 68
T10. Eric Wohlfield (Grand Haven), 68
T13. Josh Burt (Kalamazoo), 69
T13. Stephen Gangluff (Delaware, Ohio), 69
T15. Michael Roberts (Franklin, Ohio), 70
T15. Joe Hooks (Farmington Hills), 70
T15. A.J. Morris (Aspen, Colo.), 70
T15. Sammy Spayd (Livonia), 70
T15. Dave Pecorella (Glen Ellyn, Ill.), 70
T15. Justin Bryant (Kirkwood, Mo.), 70
T15. Jake Sarnoff (amateur; Manhattan Beach, Calif.), 70
T15. Christopher Brown (Benbrook, Texas), 70
T15. Alex Andrews (Kirtland, Ohio), 70
T15. Josh Esler (Wauconda, Ill.), 70
T25. Jason Knutzon (Scottsdale, Ariz.), 71
T25. Richard Saferian (Milford), 71
T25. Kyle Rodes (Plymouth), 71
T25. Mitchell Sutton (London, Ontario), 71
T25. Ben VanScoyk (Grand Rapids), 71
The complete results can be found HERE.
Attempting to qualify for PGA Tour tournaments is a passion project for many golfers who are grinding away on the mini-tours. Despite the long odds just to get into the fields, let alone contend and perhaps earn a big paycheck, each week more than a hundred competitors will pony up $200 for a pre-qualifier and $200 more for the Monday qualifier; in this case, that money, outside of the green fees, goes to the Michigan PGA section.
Since 1983, just four Monday qualifiers have won that week's PGA Tour tournament, but it happened recently, with Corey Conners at the Texas Open in April.