Former SDSU standout Baek fires 25 over nine holes
After leaving San Diego State in the winter to turn pro, Todd Baek found that his golf game wasn’t spectacular - until now.
On Sunday, the former Aztec standout shot 11-under 25 on the front nine at Salt Creek Golf Club in Chula Vista, Calif.
When Baek, a 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links quarterfinalist, left San Diego State, he thought his game was in good shape. By mid-February, his swing and putting stroke had taken turns for the worse.
“I was playing in Europe and I was going through a swing change, and it was bad,” Baek said. “My game decided to turn around at the end of August, at the beginning of September.”
Baek, who is originally from South Korea, decided to play a money game with a few friends before PGA Tour Q-School pre-qualifying began on Wednesday.
The first hole was a 390 yard, par 4. Driver, 50 yards out, chip-in for eagle. No big deal.
Until he eagled the next hole, too, sticking it to 10 feet and sinking the putt.
“I don’t think I had ever made back-to-back eagles like that before,” Baek said.
Next hole, a birdie.
“The thing was, I wasn’t making anything major,” Baek said. “And I wasn’t trying too hard.”
He parred the next hole. Yes, he is human. But then at the par-4 fifth, he chipped in.
“All my friends kept saying, ‘This is crazy. This is sick.’ ”
When he got to the eighth hole and he made birdie to get to 10 under, he thought, “This is crazy.”
He birdied nine to finish at 11-under 25 on the 3,377-yard front nine.
The low nine-hole score on the PGA Tour is a 26, set by Corey Pavin at the 2006 U.S. Bank Championship.
“We made the turn and my caddie, who was playing with me, said, ‘Dude, you just shot 25.’ I said, ‘I know. I’m going to try and shoot 57,’ ” Baek said.
He went on to bogey No. 10 after putting his tee shot in the fairway bunker. Again, he is human.
He birdied Nos. 11 and 15. On No. 18, he hit the green in two, and had about a 60-foot eagle opportunity. He was thinking to himself, ‘just to give yourself a chance at a 59.’ Instead, he three-putted, leaving himself with a final score of a 60, a career-best.
“It finally showed that my game is coming together. I’ve been practicing real hard as of late, and this showed that it is paying off,” Baek said.
It continued to pay off when he tied for third at the PGA Tour Q-School pre-qualifying with a final round 6-under 66 at PGA West. He’ll find out next week where he goes for the first stage of Q-School.
“That 60 has just given me more confidence in moving on in my career.”