By Neel Madhavan
One of the perks for Lukas Euler winning the Genesis Open’s Collegiate Showcase on Feb. 11 was the opportunity to meet the tournament’s host, Tiger Woods.
The other perk for the Kentucky senior was earning a spot in the main field at Riviera Country Club and competing against and meeting some of the best professional golfers in the world.
“I’m just walking around out here as proud as I can be and as happy as I can be,” said Kentucky coach Brian Craig. “This is a dream come true for Lukas, and so that makes me happy. He’s been able to rub elbows with just about every top-10 player in the world – like talk to them, not just ‘Hey,’ but actually talk to some of these guys. They’ve been so kind to him, so it’s made it a really memorable experience for him.”
Euler shot a 5-over 147 over two rounds Feb. 15-16 in his first-ever PGA Tour tournament appearance at the Genesis Open.
“It was definitely a great experience,” Euler said. “There’s no better preparation for the spring [college] season, but also for future life than playing out here.”
The Dieburg, Germany native missed out on qualifying for the Genesis Open last year after coming up short in the Collegiate Showcase, but made the most of his opportunity the second time around.
The Genesis Open was Euler’s second-ever professional tournament. He qualified to play in the KLM Open in the Netherlands in September on the European Tour after winning the Dutch Amateur Championship over the summer.
“Playing on the European Tour was really good preparation for this,” Euler said. “Usually, you come out and see all the best players in the world for the first time, which was the case here. But I got some experience with that on the European Tour because there were some good players. But, at the end of the day, it’s just golf.”
Like the rest of the field, Euler had to brave the rainy, windy and cold conditions, as well as the delays that came with it. But, as a college golfer, Euler is no stranger to playing more than 18 holes in a day through inclement weather.
“It was definitely helpful to have a caddie and not have anything to carry because with weather like that it makes it really tough,” Euler said. “It takes a lot of energy. In college golf you have to hold your own umbrella and take your own yardages and everything, so a caddie really helps with that.”
It was easy to spot Euler’s fan club as they followed him around the course decked out from head-to-toe in Kentucky blue.
The group consisted of Craig, a couple of Euler’s Kentucky teammates and his parents, Markus and Dagmas, who traveled from Germany to watch their son play at Riviera.
Craig was actually supposed to be Euler’s caddie for the week, but the weather delays forced a change of plans.
“I was supposed to caddie, but when it became a 36-hole day, we had a few other players out here that came to support him, and one of them loves to caddie,” Craig said. “He does it for some of the guys on the team in big tournaments sometimes [and] he’s in much better shape than I am.”
During the Collegiate Showcase, Euler was paired with a pro and in his case Kentucky alum J.B. Holmes.
Holmes seized the Genesis Open lead with an 8-under 63 during Friday’s first round. He went on to win the tournament at 14-under, holding off the likes of top players Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy.
Both Holmes and his caddie Brandon Parsons proved to be a valuable resource for Euler.
“J.B. knows this course well, and Brandon [Parsons] knows this course well,” Craig said. “They helped him with strategies, tee shots, hole locations and that kind of stuff.”
In addition to Holmes, Craig said Euler wasn’t afraid to pick the brains of other top players, as well, asking them for advice and utilizing their expertise.
“It really puts into perspective that these guys out here are great golfers, but they’re just like everyone else,” Euler said. “They can have a few bad shots, but they just keep playing after that and keep executing. When they don’t have a good day, they keep it together. Overall, it was just a really eye-opening experience that I can take a lot away from and put into college golf.”
Based on what he saw from Euler at Riviera, Craig said Euler looks like he belongs out there with the pros on a weekly basis.
“The only thing different between him and these guys out here is that he’s still in college,” Craig said. “He can’t focus strictly on golf, yet, but he will be able to soon. Once he gets a chance to do that, I think the sky’s the limit.”