PGA Tour Pre-Qualifier Shoots 69...On The Front Nine

Syed Zaki withdrew after 33-over front nine including incredible two-hole stretch of a two followed by a 17

Close-up of a player marking his scorecard
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Shooting 69 would usually be a cause for celebration for most golfers in most events, but not when it’s for your front nine!

That’s exactly what happened in an eventful PGA Tour pre-qualifier as one golfer produced one of the most incredible two-hole stretches seen in competitive golf as he carded a birdie two followed by a generous 17 before withdrawing from the event after finishing the front nine 33 over par.

Syed Zaki showed up at the ChampionsGate Golf Club in Orlando for pre-qualifying for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship the week before the traditional Monday qualifiers for the PGA Tour event.

Nick Scheib was playing alongside Zaki, and his first-hand account of those remarkable nine holes make to eye-opening reading, as quoted The Fire Pit Collective.

A few eyebrows were raised by some dodgy shots on the range, forgetting a couple of clubs and a lack of knowledge on etiquette on the greens – but Zaki still walked off the 10th hole, his group’s first of the round, with a par. Nothing to see here then?

Not so, as three snap-hooks off the next tee and a genuine fear of running out of golf balls on the next saw Zaki card a 12. Just a bad hole?

Absolutely not, as he followed up with a double bogey and quad before giving his partners a wild ride by watching him smoke a three-wood to just over a foot from the flag on the 231-yard, par-three 14th hole.

After walking off shouting “That is my first birdie!” according to Scheib, Zaki then swaggered to the next hole full of confidence, before eventually trudging off the green having signed for a 17 – which should’ve been more as he finished up with the wrong ball.

From the sublime to the ridiculous has never been a more apt saying that after a two-hole stretch like this – where Zaki repeatedly found a penalty area before playing the wrong ball out of the hazard but being left-off with a 17 by his partners who must have been in a state of shock.

After a further bogey and double bogey, Scheib says they estimated Zaki had made a 10 on the 18th before he said that was that for him and he left the event – with his scorecard as a keepsake.

This is one of the reasons the PGA Tour hold pre-qualifiers to sift through “pros” who may not be exactly up to scratch, but who pay the $250 entry fee to give it a go.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.