Doc Redman, who got in the Rocket Mortgage Classic by winning the open qualifier, finished second to earn his Tour card and a spot in the British Open. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
Detroit — Doc Redman took one last look at his putt on No. 18 Sunday, took a deep breath in and slowly let it out.
Just a touch more than 4-and-a-half feet stood between the 2017 U.S. Amateur champion and a truly life-altering moment. Make the par putt at the final hole of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club and Redman would lock up second place behind winner Nate Lashley all by himself.
For a guy that has played in one PGA Tour event all season and got in this week’s field by winning the open qualifier on Monday at The Orchards in Washington Township, that would be big enough.
But there was so much more on the line.
The solo second-place finish would mean exemption on the PGA Tour for the rest of the season and it would secure a spot in the British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland in three weeks.
With that on his mind, Redman calmly rolled the putt in, picked the ball out of the cup and gave a quick fist pump and smile toward his caddie.
“It was an easy uphill putt and I just tried to focus on putting a good stroke on it,” Redman said. “I did that, and it went in.”
It seems matter of fact when Redman describes it. And watching the 21-year-old native of Raleigh, N.C., who was a member of the 2017 Walker Cup team, stroll down the fairway, there was little indication of much stress.
He stayed calm even when he had a couple of three-putts during the round while dismissing any thoughts of chasing down Lashley.
“I looked at (his score) but I didn't let it bother me,” Redman said. “I wanted to just keep having opportunities at birdie. I was putting well, and I gave myself a lot of opportunities. I kind of faltered a little bit, two three-putts on the back nine stunk, but yeah, I was just — I think if I hadn't had those two three-putts, maybe a little more pressure on Nate, but just trying to hit good shots.”
It led to needing one last good shot on the final hole. His approach to 18 went in the rough just off the right of the green. He chipped from there to less than 5 feet for the putt that secured his immediate future.
“I was just thinking, trying to get all those other thoughts out of my mind and just think about my process on that putt and put a good stroke on it,” Redman said. “That’s all I can do. I can’t force it to go in the hole. I did put a good stoke on it and it went in, so that’s what I was focusing on, really.”
That focus means Redman won’t be headed back to the PGA Tour Canada-Mackenzie Tour. He’d been playing there for most of the season, taking a late flight from Alberta last Sunday night to make it in time Monday for the qualifier.
Redman shot 62 that day at The Orchards then headed down to Detroit Golf Club. He could have hardly imagined how the week would ultimately play out.
“It’s been a blast,” he said. “The crowd has been awesome. I just enjoy playing out here, no matter if I missed the cut or come in second like this. It was a blast and I’m excited to get more opportunities.”
He’ll tee it up next week near Minneapolis for another first-year event — the 3M Championship. After that, he’ll start preparing for a trip to the British Open. Last year, he had a spot as the U.S. Amateur champion but opted to give it up and turn pro.
It was with the idea he’d get his shot someday as a pro.
Now that day has come.
“I gave it up because I’d have the opportunity in the future to play as a pro and if things went well play tons of them,” Redman said. “Saying it would happen this year was probably a stretch. I wouldn’t think that. But I’m excited for it. I’ve never been over there so I think it will be a unique challenge for me and I’m excited.”