Mini Tour Pro Mike Sweeney Venmoed Thousands After Monday Qualifying For Korn Ferry Event

Mike Sweeney's arduous road to his first Korn Ferry Tour event has captured the imagination of the public

Official PGA Tour headshot of Mike Sweeney
Mike Sweeney has qualified for the HomeTown Lenders Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s well-known that turning pro is fraught with uncertainty for most, but for one player, that's particularly the case. 

Mike Sweeney holed an outrageous 35-yard bunker shot on the 18th of Korn Ferry Monday at the HomeTown Lenders Championship to make it into a five-for-two playoff and ultimately qualify for this week’s tournament at Ledges Golf Course in Alabama. That means he'll participate in his first PGA Tour-sanctioned event, which is a story in itself. 

Getting there involved far more than some on course heroics, though. Per, Sweeney has experienced plenty of ups and downs in his professional journey.

In fact, so incredible is Sweeney’s story that it has captured the imagination of the public, and, thanks to plenty of generosity, he has been Venmoed a sum that, according to popular Twitter account @acaseofthegolf1, is “approaching five digits”.

Before turning pro, Sweeney took jobs at a bowling alley and an equestrian club in his native Connecticut while honing his skills in occasional amateur events during his spare time. During that period, he also did part-time rapping and split his living arrangements between his mother and father, who had divorced when he was a teenager.

That all changed after he moved to Florida with his dad in 2018 aged 23. His dad cut him a deal - he could stay with him his girlfriend but had to move out by the time he was 25. Sweeney agreed and opted to turn pro despite being limited in his ability, or, in his own words, "f****** terrible".

He joined the Minor-League Tour in South Florida, where he proceeded to break 70 only once in the next three years, for which he took money just five times. Undeterred, Sweeney worked at a Subway and used his pay to fund his entry fees, but then time caught up with him - he reached 25.

Sweeney moved out of his dad’s home and straight into a 2014 Hyundai Elantra, where he slept between tournaments parked outside a Walmart. He could have got his own place, but as he explained: "I could spend all my money on an apartment or play pro golf."

Finally, events took a positive turn in January 2022. After career earnings of little more than $1,000, he won the Minor League’s Abacoa January Classic and earned more than that in one go - $1,200. That proved a catalyst, and he now has five Minor League titles. That doesn’t mean he’s well off though, with his biggest win to date handing him $2,500 and career earnings of less than $21,000 in almost four years.

Much of his earnings have gone on entry fees to Monday qualifying, with success finally coming in his 12th attempt. He will have significantly more than that as he tees it up this week, though, thanks to those unexpected donations. Sweeney told Monday Q Info: “It’s by far the most money I’ve ever had, I almost don’t know what to do.”

Sweeney booked his hotel for the week before the donations began pouring in, and its weekly rate of $500 is reflected by reviews mentioning "bed bugs," "drug dealers" and "sex workers." That's not something he plans to change, though. He said: “I was offered host housing and a bunch of nicer hotels, but I don’t want to waste other people’s money, the hotel I booked is non-refundable, I’m fine here.” Sweeney also purchased a suitcase and travel case for the occasion as he didn't own them already. 

Before this week’s tournament, Sweeney had almost reached his credit card limit of $800. Given his unexpected windfall, if nothing else, he can play uninhibited by concerns about how he'll pay it off.

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.