Years after skipping college, Andreas Halvorsen back at Q-School but optimistic

Enrique Berardi/PGA Tour

Years after skipping college, Andreas Halvorsen back at Q-School but optimistic

Professional

Years after skipping college, Andreas Halvorsen back at Q-School but optimistic

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. – Andreas Halvorsen is in the same place he was four years ago, and yet plenty has changed.

In 2014, the Norwegian decided to take the unusual step of skipping college and trying his hand at the second stage of Web.com Tour Q-School at age 17, with an eye on turning pro soon after.

The experience that week – one that saw him finish several shots short of advancing – at Southern Hills Plantation Club in Brooksville, Fla., was an eye-opener.

“I wasn’t as ready for a stage like this back then. Mentally I wasn’t prepared as I am now,” Halvorsen said. “You know, I was just a kid back then.”

He isn’t anymore.

Halvorsen is now a 21-year-old pro and back competing in second stage of Web.com Tour Q-School for the first time since 2014. And he’s doing so at the same site with the results not all that improved so far (he’s T-42 at 2 under through 36 holes; top 18 and ties after 72 holes advance).

But Halvorsen feels he’s on the right path.

Despite his rough start at Q-School all those years ago, Halvorsen was undeterred.

Halvorsen had risen to become one of the top juniors in the U.S. thanks in part to a move to St. Augustine, Fla., in 2013 to train at the Tom Burnett Junior Golf Academy. And he would indeed skip college and turn pro at 18, making his debut in the paid ranks in early 2015.

What ensued wasn’t smooth. He missed six of seven cuts on the Challenge Tour that year. Halvorsen has mainly taken his talents to PGA Tour Latinoamerica the last three years and posted solid results.

His best finish on the money list came this season as he placed 20th. But that didn’t get him a promotion to a higher circuit and netted him less than $35,000 in earnings.

So was some time in college the right move after all? Halvorsen concedes he likely wasn’t prepared for pro golf at Q-School in 2014, but he remains steadfast he chose the right path.

“At the time, I thought I was (ready for pro golf). Looking back at it, I probably wasn’t,” Halvorsen said. “But it has all helped me improve to where I’m at right now, so I don’t have any regrets about it.”

The early struggles, he feels, only aided him. Amidst the rough results, Halvorsen quickly came to the realization that he wasn’t special just on talent alone, the hard work still needed to be put in for him to reach his potential.

That has manifested ever since.

“He had a goal and he works a lot on his game,” said his 23-year-old brother Martin, who has served as his caddie since last year. “When he’s at practice, he’ll always focus just on that.”

Halvorsen also learned over time in his pro golf travels to tone down certain elements.

The Norwegian always felt his ball-striking was up to pro standards, but his short game held him back early on. Halvorsen didn’t lack an array of short-game shots, and that in fact was the problem.

He put his focus into mastering different trajectories and spins around the greens, trying fancier shots to show off. Once he altered to be more basic in his work around the greens – hitting the same chip shot most of the time and focusing on where he landed the ball – his short game took off.

Halvorsen has also benefited by learning to control the urge to try the hero shot all over the course.

“As a junior golfer, he did it a lot,” Martin said. “You saw it at least once a week. It did work pretty often, but it can also get you in a lot of trouble.”

Like the time a couple of years ago in a European Tour event where Halvorsen faced a treacherous second shot to a par 5. In order to reach the green, he needed to hit a high, drawing 2-iron over trees off a downhill hanging lie. The ball would have to cover roughly 270 yards to carry the water in front of the green, too.

Halvorsen could’ve executed a simple lay up to give himself a wedge third. Instead, he tried the 1-in-50 hero shot. Predictably his attempt flew low and never had a chance of clearing the water, leading to an eight or nine on the hole.

Halvorsen changed coaches last year, moving to Jeff Leishman. The switch has been important in flipping Halvorsen’s course management mindset.

“(Jeff) helped me a lot with that, realizing to play the percentage,” Halvorsen said. “Even though it’s fun to hit all other shots, it’s about what’s going to put me in a better position.”

Halvorsen remembers there were comments made about his decision to turn pro early. When his mother, Hilde, would come to junior tournaments and the subject of her son’s turning pro arose while talking with other parents, they’d often make remarks hinting that it wasn’t a good move.

There was never any doubt, though, from the man who made it. Halvorsen never intended to get a degree and even if he went to college for a short time that would’ve meant taking an opportunity from another player more serious about school.

Halvorsen never lacked faith in his abilities either and also had a good support system around him. He and Martin currently live together in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Andreas has multiple loyal sponsors from back home that chip in. So does Hilde, who works two jobs to help out her sons.

“She works a lot to even get us this opportunity,” Andreas said.

So far Halvorsen is battling just to reach the Web.com Tour, but his progress is palpable. And he did almost qualify for a major this year. The winner of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica’s Argentina Open earns a spot into the following year’s Open Championship; Halvorsen lost a playoff at the event in 2017.

Even if another trek on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica awaits in 2018 – likely if he fails to advance to final stage – Halvorsen is optimistic he’s on an upward trajectory.

“I think all the pieces are good enough,” Halvorsen said, “it’s just a matter of having them at the right time.”

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