Manav Shah’s goal of playing in a PGA Tour event almost became a reality last week at the Reno Open.
The Centennial High School graduate finished second at the Golden State Tour competition, which was held June 25-27 in Reno, Nevada. The tournament was scored on the Stableford format — five points for an eagle, two points for birdie, zero for par, negative-1 for bogey, and negative-3 for any score lower.
The player with the highest point total, AJ McInerney, received automatic entry into the PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship, which is the first weekend of August in Reno, Nevada.
Still, Shah competed. He entered the last day of the three-round Open in 12th place but caught fire late, shooting a bogey-free 63 on the final 18 holes. Shah had three birdies before recording an eagle on hole No. 9, a par 5. He then knocked down four birdies on the back nine to enter the clubhouse four strokes ahead.
Unfortunately for Shah, McInerney birdied four of his final five holes, finishing with 38 points compared to Shah’s 35.
“I played a really good round of golf. He saw the score he needed and played well also down the stretch,” Shah said. “We both played really well that day.”
While Shah narrowly missed out on the PGA event, he was happy with his performance, particularly on the tournament's third and final day. Shah said it was the second time this season he’s played exceptionally well to close out a tournament. He pointed to the Avondale Open in Palm Desert in early May, when he closed out with a 10-under 61 to place tied for third.
After Centennial, the 26-year-old went on to play at the University of San Diego and then UCLA. He’s competed on the Canadian Tour the past two years.
“Playing for something with the stakes so high, I was proud I was able to hone in on the process and play at the highest level,” Shah said of his performance in Reno. “Focusing on my game and playing the best golf I could. That’s a huge confidence boost.”
Shah said there are three more opportunities this season that could springboard him into a PGA tournament: one-day Monday qualifiers for the John Deere Classic, Wyndham Championship and RBC Canadian Open.
He will also play in five Web.com Monday qualifiers, while also competing in some local pro events and state opens to stay sharp.
During the week, Shah is in Bakersfield. He said his daily routine consists of heading to the gym between 6 and 7 a.m. for physical conditioning.
Then it’s off to Bakersfield Country Club, where he works on chipping, hitting and putting for an hour each. Shah follows that by typically playing 18 to 36 holes before heading home between 5 and 7 p.m.
“Training on non-tournament days is more rigorous than playing in the tournament,” he said.
He believes he’s on the brink of taking the course in a PGA event.
“If I keep doing what I’m doing and stay committed to the process, I’ll get to that mountain top sooner rather than later,” he said.