Former Michigan Open champ Jake Kneen qualifies for first PGA Tour tournament

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Jake Kneen has been itching for competitive golf, so much so that he made the lengthy drive to suburban Minneapolis last week just to compete in a pre-qualifier with the hope of getting into a Monday qualifier.

And even if all that happened, he'd then have to beat out 58 of 60 players to get into the big show.

Well, done, done and done. Next stop: The PGA Tour.

Jake Kneen

Kneen, a White Lake native, former Michigan Open champion and Oakland alumnus, shot an 8-under 63 at Victory Links Golf Course in Blaine, Minnesota, to earn one of two spots into this week's 3M Open.

This will be his PGA Tour debut.

"I'm pretty pumped," Kneen said Monday night over the phone, while awaiting his COVID-19 test results. "I can't really believe it. I knew I could do it, but I can't believe it at the same time."

Kneen won the Thursday's pre-qualifier with a 65, and then got off to the perfect start in Monday's qualifier, holding a wedge from 125 yards for an eagle-2 at his first hole.

That proved to be a good sign of things to come.

The 8-under tied him with Calgary's Aaron Crawford, with each getting a spot into this week's field. They made it by a stroke.

This was the third Monday qualifier attempt for Kneen in the last month. He came up short trying to qualifier for the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit and the Workday Charity Open in Dublin, Ohio.

Kneen becomes the second former state college star to Monday qualify for a PGA Tour tournament in the last month. Canton's Donnie Trosper, a Michigan State alum, actually qualified in back-to-back weeks, for the Rocket Mortgage Classic and the Workday Charity Open.

Kneen, 24, was supposed to play on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada this summer, but that tour shut down because of COVID-19. He's instead played some smaller events in Michigan, while working mostly out of Prestwick Village Golf Club in Highland, as well as at Oakland's Katke-Cousins.

He won the Michigan Open in 2018, and qualified for the U.S. Amateur in 2015 and 2018. He was Horizon League player of the year in 2018 and freshman of the year in 2015.

"This (qualifier) was a little bit more of a drive, but I figured it's worth a shot," said Kneen, who arrived in Minnesota last Tuesday. "I'm about as excited as I could be."

Twitter: @tonypaul1984