UMKC graduate, golf star opens pro career

The Midwest Classic is bringing together 156 Web.com Tour golfers.

But only one player can call it home.

Korbin Kuehn debuted his professional golf career this week at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate.

Kuehn said he felt a whirlwind of emotions — expected of anyone who is beginning a professional career.

But having the last scheduled tee time provided a lot of time for the nervousness and excitement to build. From waking at 7 a.m. until his 2:20 p.m. tee time, he anticipated the competition.

Those emotions showed through the first nine, which he described as “really nerve-wracking.” It did help being on his home course, but he didn’t show it in his performance.

“I didn’t really have to worry about the course,” he said. “It was just about the nerves and now I had people watching me. I’m not really used to that.”

“I was just lucky enough (to debut at LionsGate),” he said. “It was just perfect. I just graduated from college. It was just perfect. It was perfect timing.”

Kuehn is coming off his final year at UMKC, where he led the team to its second consecutive Summit League championship. He also received his second MVP title.

Kuehn competed against a celebrated pool of players in the Web.com tournament. Some are veterans, having played on the PGA Tour. They’re fighting their way back to the big stage after they missed last year’s cut. Others are new to professional golf.

Kuehn, along with fellow Overland Park native Tyler Docking, a KU graduate, received sponsor exemptions provided by the host organization Kansas City Crusaders. The not-for-profit supports local businesses and charities through professional golf.

Kuehn opened play with four bogeys in the first five holes. He birdied holes 9 and 13 and finished 5 over with a 76. An eagle on 13 and a birdie on 16 helped him finish the second round Friday at 1-over-72.

“I didn’t necessarily play my game,” he said. “If I had just played golf, I probably could’ve played a lot better.”

Although he didn’t make the cut, Kuehn remains optimistic.

“I know I have what it takes to play with these guys,” he said.

He plans to continue to participate in Monday qualifiers until the Web.com Q-School begins in the fall. In the meantime, Kuehn is working with Blake Graham from Hallbrook Golf Club on getting the “right things,” such as his swing.

He is dedicated to his professional career now, spending a lot of time practicing.

“If I’m going to try this for real, I have to make it a full-time job,” he said.

But if that doesn’t fare well, Kuehn hopes to combine his business management degree and love for golf. Anything to stay in the golf business.