Golfer from Sarasota shares emotional story of qualifying for first PGA Tour event

Sports

Fla. (WFLA) – The video of Michael Visacki sinking a 20-foot putt to earn a spot at the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour is, in the simplest of terms, unforgettable.

He hugs his caddie, Kaylor Steger, and then, he calls home.

“I made it,” he told his father, Mike, through his tears.

Yes, Visacki did it and he admitted he could not have achieved his dream without the support of his parents, Mike and Donna.

“What they have done for me, I mean, I cannot thank them enough,” said Visacki. “I cannot repay them enough. A lot of people give up on their dreams because they cannot afford it but I have been lucky enough to be with my parents and being able to help me out sometimes and keep living it.”

Visacki, who is an only child, was raised in Sarasota. He graduated from Riverview High School and attended the University of Central Florida for one year.

His father actually introduced him to the game of golf when he was 8 years old. Visacki had an interest in tennis at that point in time but, while he was on the court in the middle of a lesson, his father had an idea.

“While I was having my tennis lesson,” recalled Visacki, “my dad watched this old lady and her husband hit two golf balls into the water about 10 feet in front of them and he goes, ‘I could do that!’ And ever since then, he got hooked on it and, on my eighth birthday, I said, ‘I am going to go try’ and I never let go.”

Visacki has been obsessed with the sport since that moment and he received every possible opportunity to pursue his passion. However, those opportunities came at a cost.

“Sometimes, there would be nights when [my parents] would not eat just to give me some food,” he said. “They would sacrifice, maybe, not paying a phone bill so I could go play in some junior tournaments.”

Those tournaments required you to register for them weeks ahead of the date and they were not usually free.

“My parents would sometimes call the director and be like, ‘Do you mind putting my son in? I will have the money for you when we get to the event,'” said Visacki.

Thankfully, he had a reputation in the area, so he typically slipped into those tournaments without any trouble.

“My dad pushed me because he knew that I had it,” he said. “If he knew that I did not, I do not think he would have been pushing so hard but he saw the talent. He kept on saying, ‘Keep your head down and keep grinding because I have seen what you are able to do.'”

Visacki followed that advice and, as the years passed, he fell into a routine working at a local course and playing at that local course whenever he had the chance.

“They offered me a job and I said, at first, ‘No because I am trying to play professionally,'” he said, “and then two weeks later, I was like, ‘I probably should take this job just to make a little bit of extra money and still continue to grind, just a little bit cheaper for me.'”

He essentially spent a portion of every day there, unless he was on the road for a tournament, for four years.

Visacki, who is not small in stature, is the owner of a 2010 Honda Accord. He purchased it with 32,000 miles on it in 2015 and, now, the mileage is nearing the 200,000 mark. He described himself as an “active” golfer.

“I play roughly 30 to 45 events every year. I probably average three events every month, maybe a little bit more,” he said. “I am the type of player who likes to play a lot rather than play one event and take two or three weeks off and play one event and take two or three weeks off.”

He has been on the brink of qualifying for the PGA Tour in the past but, on Monday, he finally did it.

“We are not much of a crying family,” admitted Visacki, “but this was the first time in a long time that we all cried because we know how much work and effort and blood, sweat, and tears has gone into me trying to make it and, to finally be able to do it, is a dream come true.”

Did he ever doubt he would get here? Did he ever consider quitting on his dream?

“No,” Visacki said without hesitation. “I never once thought about quitting. I know I have the game to compete out here and I never once thought about quitting. I said, ‘I have to keep going. I am not getting any younger so just keep on fighting.'”


Visacki will start the Valspar Championship from the first hole at 9:07 in the morning on Thursday.

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