If you have Mike Lorenzo-Vera in your PGA Championship office pool, congratulations.
Lorenzo-Vera shot a second-round 68 and finds himself in a six-way tie for second at 6 under at TPC Harding Park, two shots back of Haotong Li.
The little known Lorenzo-Vera is tied with some of the game’s heavyweights: Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Justin Rose,Tommy Fleetwood and Daniel Berger.
But getting to this point, two shots back heading to the weekend at a major championship, wasn’t an easy path for Lorenzo-Vera.
He turned pro in 2005 but by 2013, he says he hit a low point in his professional career. He told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi after his second round that he finished “almost last in the Challenge Tour in 2013 so that was really, really far away to play correct golf.”
Lorenzo-Vera was also really, really far away from a correct bank account. Rinaldi asked Lorenzo-Vera about falling into significant debt.
“Too much,” Lorenzo-Vera said with a laugh. “Way too much considering the money there is on the Challenge Tour.
“It was somewhere like €400,000.” That equates to about $472,000.
Later, in Q School, the Frenchman found some inspiration with his brother on the bag.
“He started speaking of the lasagna of my mom that we absolutely love and it took my out of the pressure. … he goes, ‘Remind me exactly of the recipe.’”
He says he went on to birdie 16, par 17 and “on the last, I had a really tricky putt, with a break and I don’t know why but I just wanted to chip that over the break. That means that my mind was really gone and he looked at me with the wedge and said ‘OK I’m going to break the wedge if you don’t take the putter.’”
Lorenzo-Vera went with the putter, and put it about “like that” to the hole, holding his hands up about 12 inches apart.
“He looked at me, like, really angry,” Lorenzo-Vera said. “But at least I had a job for the year after, so that was cool.”
Lorenzo-Vera knows how to play TPC Harding Park after two rounds.
“It’s very demanding in terms of strategy and stick to the plan, stick to where you want to put the ball, even if sometimes it’s a bit tempting to be very aggressive on the flag.”