Not long after Bill Lunde captured his first PGA Tour title at Turning Stone, his agent asked him if he had any interest in going to China the first week in November.
His first question was what tournament was in China. Told that it was the WGC-HSBC Champions, that led to another question.
“I said to him, ‘How did I qualify for that?”’ Lunde said Monday afternoon while waiting to hit balls at Sheshan International.
If it was strange to see the bunkers on the range covered in red carpet -- the color of HSBC’s logo -- Lunde still had a hard time grasping how he had made it into his first World Golf Championship. Because of the number of players who chose not to compete, Lunde got into the 80-man field when the alternate list switched between tournament winners and world ranking.
Little did he realize that winning in August at Turning Stone -- the same week as another WGC, the Bridgestone Invitational -- would open such doors. This will be the first time the 34-year-old Lunde has played a tournament that didn’t have a cut since he made it to the Nationwide Tour Championship at the end of the 2008.
“It’s hard to pass this up,” Lunde said. “My first world event. All the ranking points. In my position, it’s hard to say no.”
It just goes to show how quickly fortunes can change in golf.
It was only five years ago when Lunde gave up on the game. A member of UNLV’s national championship team in 1998, it took him five years to reach the Nationwide Tour, and he only lasted two years before he decided to move on.
Lunde spent a year working in sales with the Las Vegas Founders, the group that ran the PGA Tour stop in Las Vegas. He then tried real estate just as the market was starting to buckle.
He got back into the game through the Butch Harmon Vegas Tour, where about 50 players from the area ponied up $17,500 to compete in a series of tournaments. Lunde won more than $100,000, earned a spot on the Nationwide Tour in 2008 and finished fifth on the money list to earn his PGA Tour card. He kept his card after his rookie year, but only after a tie for fourth in the Frys.com Open late in the year.
Then came a one-shot victory at Turning Stone, and Lunde suddenly is places he never thought he would be.