McKINNEY, Texas — The weather was a little sticky, the pace of play wasn’t the greatest and the crowds were fairly paltry, but Kyle Wilshire had a pretty great day on Thursday.
How could he not? The former University of Central Florida star is less than two years removed from a job as a trash porter — collecting the trash at an apartment complex — all because it fit his practice schedule.
And after earning a berth in a PGA Tour event for just the third time through Monday qualifying, the former Korn Ferry Tour player lit up TPC Craig Ranch on Thursday, posting a 7-under 65 to sit near the top of the leaderboard after the first day of play. While Harry Higgs, Xander Schauffele, Danny Willett and others failed to get under par at TPC Craig Ranch, Wilshire finished with birdies on four of his final five holes to settle into a comfortable spot.
After a stellar college career in which he helped UCF to a conference title in 2010-11, a pair of NCAA Regional appearances and two NCAA Championship appearances, Wilshire spent time on the Mackenzie Tour and had 22 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017. He’s battled some injuries, including multiple knee surgeries, but never wavered from the belief that he could play with the world’s best.
“I just always kind of told myself that you get out what you put in, and when I was doing my job it wasn’t fun, but I made the most of it and I kind of turned it into an opportunity to get better and just tried to have the right mindset,” he said. “I think that’s what I have done now. The rest of my life is in order and I’m in a good spot and I’m just trying to take the advantage of the opportunities I have.”
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Wilshire missed the cut at the RSM Classic, but shot an admirable 1 over through two days. In his only other start — at the 2021 Butterfield Bermuda Championship — he finished tied for 62nd. He’s currently ranked 1,616, according to the Official World Golf Ranking, but has continued to work on his game through the pandemic, even if it meant taking an often difficult job.
“My girlfriend’s apartment complex was advertising a place for some help in the evening times, and COVID there was nothing really going on other than a small mini-tour in Florida,” he said. “I didn’t really want to be in an office job. I wanted to continue to work on my game, and this was in the evening times from 6 sometimes to 11 at night.
“It wasn’t the most glamorous job, but I wouldn’t say it humbled me, but allowed me to work on my game. I did it for four months. It kept me in good shape and I just think it made me a little tougher. Made me just appreciate the opportunity to play.”
230-yard par 3.
Kyle Wilshire rattles it off the flagstick 💥 pic.twitter.com/ioKytV8Ld4
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 12, 2022
And that’s why, even with scorching temperatures in North Texas, Wilshire was smiling as he finished his round. After following a road that’s taken multiple twists and turns, he’s intent on savoring every minute of his time on the big stage. No matter how long it lasts.
“When you’re out here it’s just not taking things for granted. When you play on the PGA Tour, you’re driving a brand new Cadillac this week. You’re eating the best food, it’s the best facilities. You got club companies taking care of you. I’ve never had that before,” he said.
“I just always hoped I’d get to this level and believed that I could. The journey has been a little bit different than a lot of people, but I’m blessed to be here.”