PGA Tour stop next for Joe Affrunti

The volume of golf Joe Affrunti was planning to tackle over a week's time never really even entered his mind.

But between a four-round Tour event in Potomac, Md., a 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier on Monday in nearby Rockville and this week's PGA Tour-sponsored St. Jude Classic in Memphis, the Crystal Lake native's workload was heavier than normal.

After finishing tied for 54th following Sunday's final round of the Mid-Atlantic Open, Affrunti tied for 58th Monday at Woodmont Country Club, finishing the day with a 2-over 143. Only the top eight finishers advanced to next week's U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.

Affrunti shot an even round 71 on Woodmont's south course before finishing with a 2-over 72 on the north course. He was even through 27 holes, but had two bogeys in his final nine holes, including on the final hole.

His routine changed drastically, not hitting as many balls Sunday as he normally would in preparation for Monday's marathon qualifier. Affrunti said he only warmed up for about 30 minutes Monday morning, hit a few balls after lunch before his afternoon round before traveling straight from the golf course to the airport.

"It's more about pacing yourself on a day like today," Affrunti said in a phone interview Monday night while waiting to board a flight to Memphis. "The kicker is no matter where you're at in a tournament – good or bad – you're always taking something away from it."

Affrunti was solid in three of his rounds over the weekend with the exception of Saturday's 79. He took all the positives he could from a weekend when he made only $1,935 and applied them to Monday's two rounds when he felt like he struck the ball well, but couldn't get putts to drop on a day when he had "a million lip-outs and a ton of burnt edges."

Scotland's Russell Knox won the event with a 9-under 132.

With a qualifying spot out of the realm of possibility late in his final round Monday when he said he would have had to shoot five or six under on his final four holes to event contend for a Top-8 finish, Affrunti started working on shots he can use this week when he returns to the PGA Tour starting Thursday at the St. Jude event.

Affrunti earned his PGA Tour card in 2010, but has spent the past 18 months recovering from wrist surgery. Affrunti earned a major medical exemption and has 13 PGA Tour events to maintain his tour status. While Affrunti has long planned to make the tour's Memphis stop his 2013 PGA debut, he isn't putting any added pressure on himself.

"It's fun but for (golfers), for myself, it's just another tournament," Affrunti said. "Obviously, you have to compete a little bit more with more money (at stake) and on a little bigger stage. So I'll just go out there and play some golf.

"My game's finally starting to come around. I'm hitting it much better, the putting's great – they're just not falling right now – but that's golf and that's how it goes some time and so it's just a matter of time."

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