Former Alton standout golfer Tyler Dunn (left) poses with caddie Jake Petras, also an AHS graduate, during the 2015 PGA Professional National Tournament at the Philadelphia Cricket Club June 25 to July 1.
It seems like a lifetime ago for Tyler Dunn since his days on the golf links with the Alton Redbirds and competing in the Gold Medal Tournament at Rock Spring Golf Course in Alton.
“I guess you could say that,” Dunn said with a chuckle recently, reminiscing of his humble beginnings at the Gold Medal and at AHS.
Now 30 years old, Dunn is a PGA Professional at Hallbrook Country Club in Overland Park, Kan. The 2003 Alton High graduate used that status to put himself in a pretty opportunistic position recently.
Dunn competed in the 2015 PGA Professional National Championship June 25 to July 1 at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. Dunn made both cuts in the tournament, advancing all the way to the final day before finishing tied for 58th with a plus-10. The top 20 finishers advanced to the PGA Championship Aug. 10-16 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
Dunn relished in the opportunity to compete in Philadelphia, admitting it was a highlight for his golfing career.
“It’s an honor as a PGA professional to have the opportunity to play in an event like this,” Dunn said. “As a PGA member this is the biggest tournament that we have. This is our major and to have the opportunity to possibly qualify for the PGA Championship and be able to play against the guys that play on tour is pretty special. I really don’t know another sports organization that allows players an opportunity to do that.
“It was a really neat opportunity and it was by far the biggest and best tournament that I’ve ever played in.”
And Dunn did his best to take advantage of the opportunity. The former University of Missouri golfer flirted with making the cut for the PGA Championship, but in the end the grueling field proved too much. He made it as close as six shots of a playoff for a spot in that coveted top 20.
“The lowest I may have gotten was like 30th or 33rd, but it was just a grind out there,” Dunn said. “It’s a field of 312 guys and you’ve got to make the cut after 36 holes down to the top 90 in ties and then you have to make another cut after 54 holes down to 75 to guarantee a paycheck. Not only is there the stress of making one cut, but then you have to worry about making the second cut in order to get paid. A lot of pressure, but competitive golf I really enjoy and I think that pressure elevates my game a little bit.”
Dunn almost missed the cut to advance to Philly, though. There are 41 PGA sections in the country and each section has a section championship to advance to the national tournament. Playing in the Midwest section, only the top four placers advanced and Dunn finished fifth. Luckily, one of the pros was unable to make the national tournament and Dunn, the alternate, got the nod to fill in.
When he looks at the overall numbers, it’s a quite impressive feat for him personally.
“What I was told was that over 3,000 PGA professionals played in the section championships respectively and only 312 advanced,” he said.
The Philadelphia Cricket Club has two golf courses on its premises and Dunn was impressed with both venues. They were beautiful and challenging, the perfect combo on a golf course.
“Both of the golf courses were phenomenal,” Dunn said. “The original golf course they did a complete restoration on three years ago to restore it to the way it originally played back in the ’20s. They did a great job of that. It was a lot of fun and it was about as pure as golf can get if you’re a golf enthusiast.
“The other course, the secondary course, was a more modern golf course but very fun to play and very difficult. Both of them were very difficult and great golf courses overall.”
Dunn and his wife, Erica, have two daughters, Vivian, and Addelyn, born July 22. Between being a family man and the professional at a country club, time is at a premium for Dunn.
“I work six days a week and my only day off is Monday, so it’s tough to get back there,” Dunn said. “My parents (Lorin and Deb) still live in Godfrey and I try to get back once or twice a year if I can, but it’s tough.”
He may be out of sight, but never out of mind. His hometown is plenty proud of him.
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