Alumni men's golfers keeping pro aspirations alive

Former Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s golf All-Americans Tain Lee (CMC ’12) and Brad Shigezawa (CMC ’14) were NCAA Division III national champions during their time in Claremont. Their success as amateurs has carried over after college, as both golfers now are chasing down their dreams in the professional ranks. Over the last month, Shigezawa and Lee have both made great strides in their professional careers.

Lee is a bit farther along in his professional career at this point after turning pro in 2012, two years before Shigezawa. Lee recently finished Stage 3 of Qualifying School for the Tour, the developmental tour for the PGA Tour. The Tour serves in a similar way to how Major League Baseball has the minor leagues. In 2013, Lee did not make it out of Stage 2 of ‘Q School’ as it is commonly referred.

In Stage 3 this year, the third and final stage of the Tour Qualifying School, Lee finished in a tie for 5th place out of 150-plus golfers in the six-round event which was held at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. from Dec. 11-16. Lee finished at 16-under par for the week with rounds of 65, 77, 65, 69, 68 and 69. Over six rounds, Lee registered a total of 34 birdies, more than any other golfer in the field.

After the first day of the tournament, Lee led the field. A 6-over par, 77 dropped him all the way to 46th after the second round, but he bounced back over the final four rounds to finish in a tie for 5th place amidst golfers from Division I powerhouses such as Texas, North Carolina and LSU.

“I think the experience he received playing in Europe throughout 2014 had something to do with how he hung in there throughout the six-round, Stage 3 event and came all the way back,” said CMS men’s golf head coach Bim Jollymour who coached both Lee and Shigezawa.

By finishing in the top-10, Lee earned himself a $15,000 check and 12 guaranteed tournaments on the Tour in 2015. This is the farthest a Stag golfer has made it as a professional, although CMS Hall of Famer and men’s golf alumnus Tom Isaak (CMC ’91) played nine years professionally on a variety of mini tours and events throughout the West.

As for Shigezawa, near the end of November, in his home state, he won the Maui Open in his first event as a professional. Shigezawa, who turned pro over the summer of 2014, shot a 69 and 72 in the two-round Maui Open on Nov. 21-23 to finish in first place with a combined score of 141, three strokes ahead of the second place finisher. In January back home in Hawaii, Shigezawa plans on playing in a qualifying tournament for the Sony Open, a PGA Tour event. Later in January he is scheduled to play on the Gateway Tour with the hope of getting invited to Qualifying School for the Tour, similar to his former teammate Lee.

Whether professional golf works out or not for Shigezawa, he has a solid back-up plan in place. Over the summer, Shigezawa passed the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and plans to attend medical school at the University of Hawaii should his professional golf dreams not work out.

The 2015 CMS men’s golf team begins its season on Feb. 2-3 at the Cal State San Marcos Invitational.

Lee: Stage 3 Leaderboard Lee: Stage 3 Scorecard Lee: Stage 3, Round 1 Recap Shigezawa: Maui Open Results