For Nick Gabrelcik, the first taste of life on the PGA Tour is an occasion you will never forget – and now his Tour debut continues this weekend.
The University of North Florida junior shot a 4-under 67 in Friday’s second round of the Valspar Championship, climbing clear of the cut line in his PGA Tour debut.
And not just any debut — one with friends and family cheering him on in the crowd, his brother Donnie serving as caddy and a hometown feel in the air. The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, north of St. Petersburg, is less than 10 miles southwest of Mitchell High School, where Gabrelcik earned honorable mention honors all four seasons.
“It’s just great to have everybody here,” Gabrelcik said during interviews broadcast by the PGA Tour after Friday’s round. “I didn’t expect everyone out here to be waiting behind the stands. It was just a feeling that I don’t think I’ll ever experience again.”
The 20-year-old Gabrelcik bounced back from an opening round of 75 to birdie each of his first three holes. He also birdied the 601-yard par-5 fifth, sinking a putt from outside 12 feet, and the par-5 11. His lone bogey came on No. 10, when he three-putted from 26 feet.
The 67 brought him into the clubhouse on par in the early afternoon with the cut line still 1 over. The line didn’t budge by the end of the day, keeping him safe for the weekend.
“It will be unforgettable,” he said of his experience.
Playing as an amateur on a sponsor’s exemption, Gabrelcik is ineligible for prize money at Valspar, which will give the winner a payday of $1,458,000. But his performance further highlights the promise of a career that has brought him back-to-back ASUN Player of the Year honors with the Ospreys as well as multiple regional and national honors.
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Last month, Gabrelcik won his 10th career ASUN Player of the Week award, one off Philip Knowles’ UNF record of 11.
Gabrelcik enters the weekend seven strokes behind leader Adam Schenk, who completed the first two rounds at 7 under.
For Saturday’s third round, Gabrelcik will be paired with Trevor Cone, a 30-year-old from Charlotte, NC with two career wins on the Korn Ferry Tour.