Corey Nagy has already had a memorable year at The Club at Irish Creek.
In April, the local golfer earned medalist honors and led UNCCharlotte to the team championship at the Irish Creek Collegiate, considered the 49ers' home tournament.
In July, Nagy played his first professional tournament at the Kannapolis golf course.
This week, Nagy will play Irish Creek as he takes his first step toward earning his PGA Tour card. The local club will host the opening event of the PGA qualifying school's first stage Tuesday through Friday.
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How many golfers in the 78-player field will advance to the second qualifying stage hasn't been determined yet, but it likely will be more than 20. Irish Creek is one of 13 sites nationwide hosting a first-stage event this month.
Second- and third-stage tournaments will be in November and December, respectively. The top 25 players in the third stage will earn PGA Tour cards; the next 25 get to play the Nationwide Tour (one step below the PGA Tour).
'It's tougher mentally'
Nagy, 22, son of Steve and Debra Nagy, is still very much connected to Charlotte, his hometown. A 2006 Vance High graduate, he still lives in the University City-area home where he grew up.
Driving to all his pro tournaments, Nagy relies on the 1999 Land Rover his father bought for him in high school. It has about 180,000 miles on it, he said, and is in poor health, with a broken door and broken lights.
Nagy looks forward to being able to buy a new car soon, but he may have to post some more top finishes in the eGolf Professional Tour and Nationwide Tour events he enters.
"I think there's a little more pressure, and I don't know if that's created by the money," Nagy said. "At every PGA Tour event there's a cut, so there's more pressure to perform. And you're usually playing for something else."
"When you're playing for a living, it's tougher mentally," he said. "I just try to stay extremely positive at every event."
Can you tell Nagy graduated from UNCC with a psychology degree?
First pro steps
His first pro event was the eGolf Tour's Southern Open, which played three rounds at Irish Creek and the fourth at China Grove's Warrior Golf Club on July 14-17. Nagy finished tied for 31st. A week later, he tied for 27th at the Forest Oaks Classic in Greensboro.
He tried to qualify for his first Nationwide Tour event in Omaha, Neb., in late July but missed it by one stroke.
Tennessee has been kinder to Nagy. He qualified for tournaments in Knoxville in August and in Chattanooga this month. But in each he failed to make the cut after two rounds.
At the Manor Classic eGolf event in Farmville, Va., in early September, Nagy finished fourth, bringing his eGolf earnings to more than $10,000 in three tournaments.
Nagy advanced to the PGA's Q-School first stage at Irish Creek by winning a pre-qualifying tournament in Valdosta, Ga., on Sept. 21-24.
A tailored course
Before it was known as The Club at Irish Creek, and before a course redesign by famed pro golfer Davis Love III in 2007, the Kannapolis Country Club hosted Q-School events four other times, most recently in 2004.
The PGA has "certain specifications," said Alan Cress, Irish Creek's golf pro. "Greens (have to be) at a certain speed. Depending on weather conditions, they like to have the course firm; there's small things they like."
Although the full field was undetermined last week, Cress said he's excited about Nagy's commitment to the event.
"We knew him when he was in college at Charlotte," Cress said. "He's just always very humble, very nice. He's the kind of guy that you want to pull for.
"He's always been first-class to all of the junior golfers at our club and a genuine person. We'll have a lot of our members out there pulling for him."
Competition will start at 8:30 a.m. each day. Admission is free and open to the public.