The 27-year-old has become an internet sensation as the video of his emotional reaction went viral
As fans, it’s easy to get lost in all the talk of ‘peaking for four tournaments a year’ we hear from the game’s elite. But behind the scenes are people like Michael Visacki, a 27-year-old mini-tour player who will fulfil a lifelong dream this week by teeing it up in his first PGA Tour event at the Valspar Championship.
Visacki came through a gruelling Monday Qualifier, sinking a 20-foot birdie putt at the second play-off hole to earn the final spot in the field.
And the video of his emotional reaction has since gone viral, as his story of perseverance and sacrifice has resonated with people from the golfing world and beyond.
Speaking at Tuesday’s pre-tournament press conference, Visacki discussed the emotions of sharing that special moment with dad, Mike, saying: “Yeah, Pops was emotional, never seen him cry so much.
“We’re not very much of a crying family, but this is the first time in a long time I think that we all cried because we knew how much work and effort, blood, sweat, tears, has gone into me trying to make it and to finally be able to do it, it’s a dream come true.”
The 27-year-old has plied his trade largely on the West Florida Tour since turning pro in 2013, picking up an impressive 37 wins in that time. However, with large entry fees and top-heavy prize pots, Visacki’s parents have had to make no shortage of sacrifices in order for him to keep playing golf.
“Sometimes there would be nights where they wouldn’t eat, just to give me some food,” he said.
“They would sacrifice, sometimes maybe not paying a phone bill just so that I can go and play some junior tournaments back in the day when I would travel down to Fort Myers or up north to Orlando.
“Every weekend there would be days where tournaments would, they would want us to register about two weeks in advance to know that they had so many players in. And sometimes money was tight where my parents would call the director and be like, ‘do you mind putting my son in? I’ll have the money for you when we get to the event’.
“I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me.”
To this point, the largest pay cheque of Visacki’s career is the $4,590 he picked up for finishing in a tie for 27th place in his one and only Korn Ferry Tour start in 2018 at the KC Golf Classic.
Racking up around 170,000 miles in his 2010 Honda Accord in six years to barely break even most weeks, most would be forgiven for starting to consider alternative career paths.
But with his own self belief and the unwavering support of his parents, quitting has never been an option for the man from Sarasota, Florida.
“No, I never once thought about quitting. I know I have the game to compete out here and I never once thought about quitting,” he added.
“I said, ‘I got to keep going, I’m not getting any younger, so just keep on fighting’.
“If he [his dad] knew that I didn’t have it, I don’t think he would have been pushing so hard, but he saw the talent. He kept on saying, ‘keep your head down, keep grinding, because I’ve seen what you’re able to do’.
“I’ve been playing some pretty good golf and he said, ‘just keep knocking on the door and you’ll step in and I finally stepped in’.”
Indeed he did. And not only will Visacki have the backing of the entire golfing world and beyond who have been gripped by his story, he will be cheered on by a home support as he makes his long-awaited debut on golf’s most lucrative circuit in his home state, just an hour from where he stays.