Monday qualifier clutches up big time to earn final Phoenix Open spot

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Nick Hardy saved his best for last to earn another spot in a PGA Tour event.

The 25-year-old Illinois product birdied each of his final two holes Tuesday morning after darkness suspended play at the Monday qualifier for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his 7-under 65 secured him a spot in a two-for-one playoff opposite Anirban Lahiri, whom Hardy beat after two more birdies in extra holes.

“I knew I had to get two birdies just to have a chance,” Hardy told reporters, including Monday Q Info, afterward, “and I just came out with the attitude that I was going to make two birdies no matter what it took.”

Hardy got up and down for birdie at McCormick Ranch’s par-5 seventh hole in the dark before calling it quits for the day. He then woke up and chipped in from 20 feet at the eighth hole before sinking a 10-footer for birdie at the ninth, his last hole of regulation.

After the putt dropped, Hardy let out a flurry of fist pumps.

“It’s just a lot of emotion there,” said Hardy, who two years ago lost in a four-for-three playoff in this very event.

“That moment was crushing to my soul,” Hardy added. “I think about that all the time. I had six other moments like that, where I miss the cut by one or just coming close right when I turned pro. Those experiences were huge for me.”

After both Hardy and Lahiri birdied the par-5 18th hole to kick off the playoff, Hardy fanned his drive right and onto the cart path the second extra time around the three-shot closer. He eventually needed to make an 8-footer for birdie to put pressure on Lahiri, who had about 4 feet left for his birdie, and he did, walking it in in the process.

Lahiri would then miss the shorty to give Hardy the third and final ticket to TPC Scottsdale alongside Mark Anguiano and Vince Whaley, who each carded 64.

For Hardy, this will be his second Tour start of the year. He Monday-qualified into the Sony Open a few weeks ago and tied for 14th. He’s also currently 15th in points on the Korn Ferry Tour, which resumes its wraparound season later this month in Florida.

“I proved myself in Hawaii that I can hang the top of the board a little bit,” Hardy said. “…I feel like I can play out there.”