Imagine competing in your first PGA Tour event at 33.
Imagine that tournament is a major championship.
Then imagine that chance comes three hours later than where you grew up.
Patrick Rada, a resident of Jupiter, doesn’t have to imagine living that dream out on Thursday when he plays in the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island.
The Head PGA Professional at McArthur Club in Hobe Sound earned his spot in the second major of the year by shooting 1-over 288 to finish 17th in the recent PGA Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club. He then survived a five-on-four play-off to experience the greatest thrill of his career.
When I realized I qualified, it was a surge of emotion and joy, Rada said. The opportunity to qualify for a PGA Championship is something every PGA professional hopes and dreams for. I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
It was not easy. It never works. After birding on the 15th and 16th holes to get into the top 20, Rada bogeyde the last two holes. He waited an hour to see if he got into a playoff at all.
That was a long hour. Rada thought of a text he’d received from McArthur Club member Bill Parcells, yes, that Bill Parcells was cheering him on for the final round.
I felt like I was going to get a chance, and that’s all you can control, Rada said. It was a whirlwind of emotions. Apparently I got the chance, and that’s all you can ask for.
Rada wasn’t the only golfer worried about his PGA odds. Nick Price, three-time Grand Champion and Jupiter Island resident, a McArthur Club founder who has played at least 20 rounds with Rada, watched every shot on TV, hoping that Rada would have the chance to experience playing in a major . Rada eventually joined Jupiter resident Frank Bensel Jr., the PPC runner-up, in the PGA field.
Patrick went up and down like a yo-yo on those last four holes, but that’s to be expected because that course played tough, Price said.
He has so much game. He could have made it on tour. Everyone ripens differently. His game has really come out for the past three to four years. He is a great player.
And it is a beautiful story.
Rada grew up 3 hours from Kiawah Island in Anderson, SC and attended the University of South Carolina where he played on the golf team. He has played Kiawah Island twice, but not in the last 10 years.
Going to Kiawah makes it even more special, Rada said. I am sure I will have many family and friends who want to be there.
They may not have to wait long to see him hit a shot. There is a chance that the PGA would give the South Carolina native the chance to take the first shot of the championship.
Rada, who won the 2017 South Florida Open, will take in the advice of Price, the World Golf Hall of Famer, like a sponge. Price won two PGAs and was former World No. 1 Champion.
Being able to be in a relationship with Nick and play golf with him and choose his brain means a lot, Rada said. Speaking to someone who has been to the top of the mountaintop is invaluable. He had a big impact on me.
The price advice for Rada for the PGA is simple: play your own game.
I’ll just tell him to play on the golf course the way you feel most comfortable, Price said. Just because other guys take drivers off every tee doesn’t mean you have to. You don’t have to shoot every pin. The center of the green is usually never too far from the hole. And don’t try to beat yourself up; enjoy the moment.
There’s another aspect of the story: Rada came in a day after this never happened. His second daughter, Corinne, was born the day (September 25) after qualifying for this year’s PPC. He expected to withdraw during the tournament.
It’s a complete storybook ending, Rada said.
After experiencing the ultimate thrill of qualifying for his first PGA, Rada quickly returned to the life of a PGA professional. He was at McArthur the next day before 7am to open the pro shop.
Patrick is an incredible golf professional, said Kevin Murphy, the director of Golf / GM at McArthur, a resident of Jupiter. He’s a great player, great teacher, great merchandiser, and great with the members. He has become very popular with the members here. They couldn’t be happier for him.
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