One week, Rob Oppenheim was on top of the golf world. Or at least it felt that way after he shot 21-under par in Stage 2 of the PGA’s Qualifying School in Plantation, Fla., winning by four strokes.
A few weeks later, the Andover native, in the Final Stage of the PGA’s Q-School — where the top 25 finishers (and ties) gain automatic acceptance into the PGA Tour in 2013 — bottomed out, finishing in 152nd place.
Resting at home in Orlando, Fla., Oppenheim sorted through the rollercoaster ride he took.
“One week I played the best tournament I played this year,” said Oppenheim, of his Stage 2 victory. “And then the next tournament, I probably played the worst I played all year. There’s no real explanation for it.”
Yes there is. It’s a four-letter word. It’s ... GOLF!
Oppenheim is in good spirits because all is not bad. He still has full-exemption in the PGA Tour’s “Triple-A” level, the Web.com Tour, where he made $132,065 in earnings, finishing 42nd overall (the top 25 got PGA Tour exemptions in 2013).
Also, he got to see his wife (Lacey) and new daughter (Chloe), who was born in October.
“It’s amazing how much she’s changed in 10 days,” said Oppenheim, of his daughter. “It was grueling for a week at Q-School. It really is nice to relax a little bit and be with my family. I really enjoy being home.”
One of the best things to happen to Oppenheim over his last two Q-School tournaments was to really connect with his golf “guru,” Mike Menery, the Andover Country Club head pro.
Menery caddied for Oppenheim in both tournaments and apparently got an up close and personal glimpse of his swing and his game.
“I’ve always been close to Mike,” said Oppenheim. “I’ve always called him to talk about things. But having him with me so much was incredible. He really was a nice voice to hear. He got to see some things, some good and some bad, which allowed him to look at my game a lot closer.”
The two decided that the one thing separating Oppenheim from the PGA Tour is his tee shots. He misses way too many fairways. “Over the last decade or so, I would try to get ready for the next season (in February) by playing,” said Oppenheim. “But Mike is down in Palm Beach at Old Marsh (C.C.) for the winter and we are going to work on a few things with my swing next month. It’s not major, but a few tweaks.
“I have to get a more consistent swing on my longer shots,” said Oppenheim. “That was the difference between Stage 2 and the Final Stage. In the Final Stage, I didn’t hit enough fairways and got in too much trouble. I know that’s what I need to win more and get to the PGA Tour.”
Oppenheim is planning to visit the Merrimack Valley over the Christmas break, from Dec. 21 through 27, staying with his parents. He is excited for his entire family and friends to see his new daughter. “I am very lucky and very happy,” said Oppenheim. “I am looking forward to playing a little bit, working on my swing, and then having a good year starting in mid-February. This is not an easy profession, but it’s a job I enjoy. I have no regrets. I am excited about next year.”
Email Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org.