Reusse: PGA Tour remains Jeff Sorenson's pursuit

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 27, 2013 - 11:54 PM

“Persistent” Jeff Sorenson has a spot locked up in this summer’s PGA Championship, but his goal is even bigger: to reach the top pro circuit.

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Jeff Sorenson, 35, teaches golf at the Minneapolis Golf Academy and has tried and failed seven times to reach the PGA Tour through PGA Qualifying School. He will keep trying. “I love tournament golf, match play, stroke play … I love it,” he said.

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Jeff Sorenson is familiar with the question as he plays the Minnesota and Upper Midwest golf circuit: “Any relation to Jim?’’

Jeff says no, then adds: “I’d like to be. Maybe I could’ve gotten into that Momentus deal.’’

Jim is from the Bloomington branch of Sorensons. He’s a member of the MGA-PGA Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame. His playing accomplishments included winning three straight State Amateurs (1985-87). He was a teaching pro in the 1990s when he invented the now-legendary Momentus swing aid.

Jeff is from the Brooklyn Park Sorensons. He’s been the Minnesota PGA Player of the Year four times in the past five years and is in the lead to be honored again.

For now, Jeff has loftier ambitions. He will be playing for the second time in the PGA Championship. He missed the cut at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011. He will try again Aug. 8-11 at Oak Hill, the wonderful old course in Rochester, N.Y.

“Don Berry played there in the PGA in 2003,’’ Sorenson said. “He told me Oak Hill is the best golf course he’s played in a tournament, and he played the [1992] U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.’’

Sorenson is likely to believe most anything he hears from Don Berry, a pro at Edinburgh USA, first as an assistant in 1988, and as the boss since 1996. Jeff started working there as a caddie in 1990, at the age of 12.

“I caddied, I worked in the bag room, and later in the pro shop,’’ Sorenson said. “I played a lot of golf with Don at night. He would show me a few things with my swing.’’

Sorenson won an Evans Scholarship for caddies to Minnesota. “I figured I would try out and play for the Gophers,’’ he said. “I found out there weren’t any tryouts. I never played college golf.’’

Asked about Sorenson’s game, Berry said: “He does everything pretty well. He has nice length, hits it straight. What I’ve noticed most is Jeff’s putting has improved. When he started as a pro, he wasn’t even one of the best players among the assistants in the area, but he’s been … I’d call him ‘persistent.’ ”

Berry, 51, has some of that quality in his background. He tried to make it through the PGA Qualifying School a dozen times.

“The best I did was a conditional card for what was then called the Nike Tour,’’ he said.

The “it’’ is the PGA Tour. Berry was a good enough player to qualify for four PGAs. He made the cut in 2002 at Hazeltine.

He has been a dominant player among the pros in this area, but the dream of the PGA Tour eventually faded. There was the job running the golf operation at Edinburgh USA, and a family that included two children.

Sorenson, now 35, is the instructor at the Minneapolis Golf Academy located at Columbia. He and his wife, Heather, don’t have children. He’s busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger, giving lessons, but the pursuit of the PGA Tour remains.

“I love tournament golf, match play, stroke play … I love it,’’ Sorenson said. “I was a baseball pitcher in high school at Champlin Park. I loved that, too, but I couldn’t get the fastball over 82, 83 [miles per hour], so I dropped baseball for golf my senior year. I saw more of a future.’’

Seven times previously he has tried Q School. He made it to the second stage twice.

Last month, Sorenson finished third in the PGA Professional National Championship (for club pros) at Sunriver Resort in Oregon. He earned a check for $34,000, double his previous best in tournament golf.

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