From Mini Tour to the Myrtle Beach Classic, Morgan Deneen Pursues His Dream

Life at the top of the PGA TOUR is glamorous. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIIroy and Jordan Spieth enjoy global fame, million-dollar endorsement deals, and a lifestyle most can hardly imagine.

But for every Justin Thomas there are countless players chasing the dream of golf’s greatest tour, and in some cases the difference between competing for millions of dollars in an event televised on the Golf Channel and playing on a mini tour isn’t as great as many believe.

That reality brings us to the dreams of the most unlikely entrant into the inaugural Myrtle Beach Classic, Morgan Deneen. On the surface, Deneen’s inclusion isn’tMorgan Deenan unusual – he is a former star at Coastal Carolina University and a playing assistant professional at Dunes Golf & Beach, the tournament host – but there is nothing conventional about Deneen’s road to the PGA TOUR.

While most future pros are crafting their swing before reaching the age of 10 and competing in a regular schedule of junior events, Deneen was playing lacrosse and beach volleyball in his native California. Coming from an athletic family – his brother, Connor, played baseball at the Naval Academy – Deneen dreamed of a collegiate athletic career as a kid, but golf was mostly an afterthought.

That was before a knee injury the summer prior to his freshman year in high school ended his lacrosse dreams, and Deneen immersed himself in golf. His family paid $300 for an unlimited golf for juniors program at Tustin Ranch Country Club and he played 36 holes a day – teeing off before 7:00 a.m. and after 2:30 p.m. (he spent the time in between rounds putting).

While Deneen improved rapidly, he didn’t have the resume most Division I recruits accumulate and his only collegiate offer was to a tiny Division II school. So, he set his sights on a Professional Golf Management degree without relinquishing his dream of playing on the PGA Tour.

His goals made the decision to attend Coastal Carolina, as opposed to the University of Idaho or Colorado State, his other choices, an easy one. All the courses and the ability to play 12 months were too much for a golf junkie to pass up.

From the moment Deneen arrived on campus in Conway, he worked tirelessly in the classroom and on the course; both eventually paid dividends in 2017.Morgan Deenan

Deneen’s work in the PGM program earned him a coveted internship at Pebble Beach, and the time he spent grinding on his game was rewarded when new Coastal Carolina coach Jim Garren needed players to fill out his roster and he looked to the school’s PGM program.

“I was actually playing Pebble Beach (when Garren called),” said Deneen. “He said, ‘We need another guy, and your name has been tossed around. How is your game?’ I told him I won the Monterrey Amateur the day before and he asked me to send a swing video.”

When Deneen sent Garren video of him playing Pebble’s eighth hole, the coach thought it was an old clip, so he asked for a new video. Deneen responded by calling his new coach via Facetime to showcase his swing on one of the world’s most famous courses.

Sufficiently impressed, Garren immediately offered Deneen a spot on the Chanticleer roster as a walk-on and all he did was win the 2018 Sun Belt Conference championship in his first year. It was a victory that validated Deneen’s work and his professional dreams.

He played a second season at Coastal and spent another summer at Pebble Beach, which coincided with the famed course hosting the U.S. Amateur. He painfully missed playing in the U.S. Am by one stroke, leaving him to sort balls on the range while his friends competed for amateur golf’s biggest prize (“Ever since, I always thank the people on the range because I know how boring and how excruciating that is sorting balls on the range,” he said).

After graduating from Coastal, Deneen continued to work on his game and turned pro, playing in a pair of Tour events last year before competing in Q School for both the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour in the fall of 2023, making it to the second stage of both before succumbing to fate.Morgan Deenan

”When I was in Europe, I got food poisoning in the first two rounds and then had my clubs, passport and equipment stolen before heading home,” Deneen said. “Then I was sleeping in the Istanbul, Turkey airport and the PGA Tour called and said you are playing Tuesday in the second stage.”

Deneen played well – with a new set of clubs – but missed advancing to the final stage of qualifying by a stroke. Instead of lamenting his luck, he sat out to improve a part of his game he felt had been holding him back.

He went to Sea Island, Ga., to meet with David Angelotti of the Phil Kenyon Putting. Angelotti asked Deneen why he was there, and he told him he wasn’t the greatest putter in the world, which drew an interesting and telling response.

“He said, ‘Well, you are (a great putter) at what you do, but you will never get any better,” Deneen recalled.

Translated, Angelotti told Deneen his stroke had serious mechanical flaws. His hands were too high and his stroke was poppy. To implement the lessons learned, Deneen spent much of the spring perfecting his new putting stroke and dialing in his distance control.

He has seen the fruits of his labor.

On February 29, he won the Florida Professional Golf Tour’s Dellwood Classic, shooting rounds of 69 and 65 before defeating Ted Potter Jr, a two-time PGA Tour champion, in a playoff. He also finished five strokes ahead of Brian Davis, who Monday Qualified for the Myrtle Beach Classic.Morgan Deenan

Deneen’s hot play didn’t carry over into “The Q at Myrtle Beach,” where he missed a sponsor’s exemption in the ballyhooed 16-player, 18-hole shootout. Buoyed by the support of the Dunes Club membership and Deneen’s ties to Coastal Carolina, Myrtle Beach Classic tournament director Darren Nelson extended Deneen an invite that will prove popular in the local community.

While Deneen should help sell tickets in an event that has generated significant local interest, this is another competitive opportunity for a man who started the game late and has defied expectations every step of the way.

“I’m hoping to put two solid rounds together and put myself in position on moving day to move up the leaderboard,” Deneen said. “Come Sunday, if I have some pressure on me, that will be a blessing.”

(Photos for this feature from Morgan Deenan’s Instagram Account)

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