Morgan goes pro, joins former Gophers

Kent Erdahl

Unlike a draft pick in other professional sports, David Morgan’s road from amateur to professional will not lead to immediate riches.

But the former Minnesota golfer, who will turn professional at Friday’s Minnesota State Open in Coon Rapids, doesn’t mind.

When discussing the lack of coverage the Minnesota’s golf team received in his four years at Minnesota, Morgan shrugged it off.

“It’s just not what people want to read about,” he said.

Morgan gave a similar response regarding the team’s 2002 NCAA Championship run while on the brink of elimination as a varsity sport.

“I’d say we win the tournament either way,” Morgan said. “We obviously thought about (being eliminated), but it wasn’t like we were thinking we had to play well or they’ll cut the team. It was just a good storyline.”

It’s not that Morgan minds attention or recognition. After all, he golfed for four years with a golf program that spoke for itself by winning a national title and collecting back-to-back Big Ten titles for the first time in school history.

Instead, Morgan’s nonchalant responses are simply a good indicator of his plain and laid back approach to golf – a sport that requires him to keep to himself.

“You are in control of everything,” Morgan said. “For the most part it’s just you and the golf course and nothing else matters.”

Morgan, an All-American Scholar Athlete, seems to accept everything that comes with his new job, and he exerts a quiet confidence that suggests he knows exactly what to expect.

He knows when he tees up on Friday, nobody will be there to greet him with a million dollar signing bonus.

In fact, he said the difference between pro and amateur isn’t all too drastic.

“I guess I could be considered pro right now,” said Morgan, who finished his last competition as an amateur in South Carolina over the weekend. “Golf is golf whether you’re playing professionally or as an amateur.”

Don’t be fooled. If it sounds too easy, consider that professional golfers – at least the one’s that are not famous – are given no money for adopting the professional title.

They must earn their salary by finishing high in standings of various mini tours, or try to survive the Professional Golf Association’s Qualifying School for a chance at a huge payday.

Morgan said he realizes the level of competition will be higher as a pro and that he will need to commit more time to the game he loves.

But his approach to golf seems less likely to waver than a ball buried deep in a sand trap.

“You’re the same person,” Morgan said. “You’re just playing for money. You’ve got to play well or you’re going to have to find something else to do I guess.”

His former teammates and coaches said Morgan has always been easy going. But Morgan said the success he and his teammates had in college definitely contributed to his outlook.

Three of Morgan’s four teammates on the 2002 Gophers already play professionally on the Hooters Tour – a mini tour that primarily travels around southeastern states.

Both Morgan and the Gophers’ assistant coach Andrew Tank, think the success and experience of his counterparts will help ease the transition.

“Obviously there is a learning curve,” Tank said. “The good news is that he’s seen his former teammates experience a level of success.”

By the end of the summer that might be an understatement. Wilhelm Schauman, who left Minnesota last year, won last week’s Health Facilities Rehab Classic, which earned him a $20,000 payday.

Morgan plans to join Schauman, Simon Nash and Matt Anderson on the Hooters Tour for three events in September, before they all enter the PGA’s Qualifying School.

“Q-school” as it’s called, is considered one of the most grueling tournaments in golf. But it attracts more than 1,000 participants for the first of three rounds because the top 35 earn spots on the PGA tour.

Despite the odds, Minnesota golfer Ben Greve said he thinks Morgan’s attitude will help.

“It seems like nothing can get to him,” said Greve, Morgan’s former roommate. “I know being a pro can be frustrating, but he seems to have the right mindset.”

Although Morgan said he’s ready, he noted he will have to adjust to at least one thing when he joins his former teammates on tour.

After returning from South Carolina last week, Morgan, a Rochester, Minn. native, said he isn’t ready for the steamy weather.

“It was so hot it blows your mind,” Morgan said. “The heat index was 120 degrees. I think I drank 15 bottles of water in one round. That’s going to take some getting used to.”