BILLINGS – Brandon McIver picked a good time for the best round of his life.
“I got hot, and just kind of rode it out,” McIver told MTN Sports by phone. “I rolled in a few nice putts, had a few tap-ins, and the next thing I knew I was 9-under.”
McIver’s second-round 61 was the lowest of the 287 rounds played at SunRiver Golf Club in last week’s Web.com Tour Qualifying stage, taking him from outside the cut line to a top-five finish. That felt a lot better than missing the second stage by one shot last year.
“The reward of getting through all stages is so great, but obviously you have to get through that first one,” McIver said. “To miss it by one shot last year kind of stung, but to get some redemption this year felt good.”
If the second round set him up, the 15th hole brought him home and might have become his all-time favorite.
“I think it had,” he laughed. “I like that one, it sets up well for me.”
After making his first bogey in 32 holes on No. 13 in Thursday’s third round, McIver quickly got the shot back. And then some.
“After I bogeyed 13, I made a great (birdie) on the Par 3 14th, and then to eagle 15 really just pushed me forward and kept that momentum going,” he said.
McIver eagled No. 15 in the final round, as well, on his way to finishing fourth overall and easily advancing as one of the top 21 qualifiers. But there was a reason he kept his foot on the gas. He had his eyes on TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, a familiar course, for the next stage.
“That’s the incentive to play well at this first stage,” he said. “Based on how you finish, you get that priority pick on your second stage. I am comfortable there. I’ve played it probably 15 times. It’s nice to be familiar with the course that you’re playing when it really matters.”
Last week was clearly Exhibit A.
McIver’s next qualifying stage opens Nov. 6-9 an hour north of Dallas in McKinney.