Playing on a sponsor’s exemption this week, Skip Kendall was among the last players getting into the 3M Championship field. On Monday he was the first professional to show up on the TPC Twin Cities driving range, bashing balls more than 90 minutes before his scheduled pro-am tee time.
“The door has cracked open a little bit for me here,” Kendall said. “Now I just have to push my way through.”
The Milwaukee-area native banked more than $9 million in his career on the PGA and Web.com tours. It’s a figure that would have made him fully exempt on the Champions Tour only a few years ago but now falls short thanks to the rush of major-winning talent the 50-and-over circuit has welcomed recently.
With no PGA Tour victories, Kendall can’t get into tournaments on that exemption, either.
So for now it’s letters upon letters to tournament directors around the country, hoping he will be picked to play.
“It’s kind of hard,” Kendall said. “Since I was a rookie in 1993, I was pretty much exempt all the way through, and then I had the Web.com Tour. I’ve always had somewhere to play. When I turned 50 [in September] I was all of a sudden on the outside looking in. I’m just clawing and scratching, doing everything I can to get into the tournaments.”
It hasn’t gone the way he’d like. The 3M Championship is only his fifth event this season. Kendall has finished no better than tied for 32nd place.
When opportunities arise, Kendall said he tries to take full advantage. This week, he is playing in a pro-am every day before Friday’s 54-hole tournament start.
Kendall wants to use the four casual rounds to get familiar with TPC Twin Cities, a par-72 course that last year players carved up for a tournament-record scoring average of 69.609.
He also hopes to put his mind at ease. “I haven’t performed the way I wanted to, and I think that’s because I’ve put a little too much pressure on myself,” he said. “When you get into the tournaments, you want to play as well as you can obviously and I’ve been around this game long enough to know that you just have to let it happen. You can’t force things.”
Kendall brought his 17-year-old son to Minnesota as his caddie. They will work long days in the pro-ams but also have visits to Mall of America and Target Field scheduled.
“My attitude is going to be different this week,” Kendall said. “I’m going to enjoy the week, and hopefully it leads to some better play.”