LEXINGTON — Chip McDaniel is making a name for himself on the PGA Tour.
In his first full summer as a professional, the former University of Kentucky golfer already has nabbed a top 10 finish and competed in nine events. His winnings have totaled more than $110,000, and he has made the cut in his past two tournaments, including the Barbasol Championship earlier this month at Keene Trace’s Champion Trace Course.
McDaniel’s first win as a professional was in September in the Governor’s Open at Juniper Hill.
Jacob Cook, a Franklin County graduate and teammate of McDaniel's at UK, has caddied for McDaniel in four tournaments and three qualifiers.
The Manchester native finished 8-under-par in the Barbasol event and 68th overall. In one of his first tournament appearances as a professional, McDaniel finished tied for fifth overall with a 15-under in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championships, earning more than $100,000 in prize money.
“Last year was more or less (first-time) experiences,” he said. “This year, one good weekend can change my life. Last year (playing in the Barbasol) was a special week, but this year, I was expecting a little bit more. More or less, it’s pretty much the same.”
McDaniel said he was more at ease in his second appearance in the Barbasol Championship and it showed, especially in the first two rounds. He struggled in the third round but pieced together a strong finish to set up a solid ending for the weekend.
“I’m more comfortable after several Tour starts and I have more expectations and staying in the moment,” he said. “Most of it (being on the Tour) is what you would expect. I think what a lot of people don’t see is the grind to get out there. It was a little harder than I expected and I feel like most people say that, but once you get out there, it’s fun, cool and it’s everything you would expect — it’s fun.”
McDaniel also is adapting to the travel aspect of playing professionally and added that traveling from one tournament to another can be “tough.”
“It’s something that you just have to get used to,” he said. “I can’t imagine with golfers like Josh Teater playing eight, nine weeks in a row. I played three weeks in a row and I was pretty beat. It is what it is. It’s a grind.”
That grind began at Kentucky, where he was part of a graduating class that is starting to make a mark on the professional scene. Current Wildcat golfer Cullan Brown posted a solid showing at Keene Trace and made the cut, while Stephen Stallings also played well in the Barbasol event.
“We did establish (a legacy),” McDaniel said. “We’ve been saying that for a year and a half now. It’s great and the game is growing in the state and there are a lot of good players, which is good to see. Events like (the Barbasol Championship) only help.”
McDaniel was glad to see Brown post a solid finish in the Barbasol event.
“That was truly special and I’m happy for him,” he said.
As for his own career, McDaniel intends to keep the grind going for the remainder of the year.
“The goal is to get at the level of Tiger (Woods), Brooks (Koepka) and guys like that, where you pick the tournaments that you play,” he said. “It would be nice to play on the PGA Tour every week, too.”
So far, he’s off to a good start toward achieving that goal.