By Brad Ziemer
When Lukas Euler was a kid dreaming of becoming a professional golfer, he probably did not envision that journey starting in Kelowna.
Heck, Euler didn’t even know where Kelowna was. Now he does and Euler, who hails from Germany, is happy to be in the Okanagan, where he will make his professional debut in this week’s GolfBC Championship at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club.
The 23-year-old earned a spot in the $200,000 PGA Tour Canada-Mackenzie Tour event by firing an eight-under 64 in Monday’s qualifier at Okanagan Golf Club’s Bear Course. Euler recently graduated with a finance degree from the University of Kentucky, where he played four years of collegiate golf. He decided to roll the dice and head to Kelowna for Monday’s qualifier.
“This is my first event as a professional and my first Monday qualifier,” Euler said after his round. “I came up here just to try and Monday qualify and it looks like it is going to work out.”
Euler grew up about 30 minutes outside Frankfurt. He started playing golf when he was six or seven years old and by the time he was 13 he had the golf bug in a big way. Not surprisingly, he lists German pros and major championship winners Martin Kaymer and Bernhard Langer as among his idols growing up.
But after four years at Kentucky, he now has some new ones.
“Guys like (Jordan) Spieth and JT (Justin Thomas) are really cool inspirations for me now,” he said. Euler had nine birdies and just one bogey in his Monday morning round at The Bear. It didn’t take much detective work to figure out Euler had shot a good score. He was snapping pictures of his scorecard with his cell phone while sitting at the scorers’ table inside the clubhouse.
“I am definitely happy with the round,” he said. “I got it going early, which helps at a Monday qualifier when you only have 18 holes. I was six-under through nine holes and eight-under through 12.” Euler was hitting his approach shots close all day.
“I had three tap-in birdies with a wedge today. I hit it close to the hole all day and I had a few putts that dropped in from inside 10 feet.”
Euler can’t wait to begin his professional career Thursday when he will tee it up alongside 155 other players in the first round. He will spend the next couple of days trying to get familiar with Gallagher’s Canyon.
“I am really looking forward to it,” he said. “It is something new. It’s the next chapter of my life.”
Euler was one of eight players to earn spots in the GolfBC Championship field at Monday’s qualifier.
Zachary Jaworski of Atlanta matched Euler’s 64 in the morning half of the draw. Jaworski, who graduated from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee three years ago, will also be making his Mackenzie Tour debut this week.
He has conditional status this year but it hasn’t been good enough to draw into any events. He played the Monday qualifiers in Vancouver, where he did not play well, and Victoria, where he missed a playoff by one shot.
“This feels pretty good, I am not going to lie,” Jaworski said. “Earlier this year, I Monday qualified into a Web.com Tour event and it felt really good. This probably feels just as good, given that I have a chance to turn it into something with my status. It could potentially change the outlook for my year.”
Colton West of Mesa, Ariz., also shot 64 late in the day to claim a spot. Matthew Oshrine of Baltimore fired a six-under 66 to qualify. There was a five-man playoff for the final four spots among players who shot 67s. Daniel Hudson of Western Springs, Ill., Ryan Books of East Wenatchee, Wash., Alex Springer of Stilwell, Kan., and Drew McCullough of Richland, Wash., advanced from that playoff. Mathias Lynne Schjolbreg of Scottsdale, Ariz., was the odd man out.
CHIP SHOTS: A total of 112 players teed it up Monday, chasing those eight spots. The field included some sons of former PGA and LPGA Tour pros. Jimmy Jones, son of the late Dawn Coe-Jones of Lake Cowichan, shot 70. Sam Triplett, son of current PGA Tour Champions player Kirk Triplett, shot 69, and Dru Love, son of 21-time PGA Tour winner Davis Love III, fired a 71.