The last time Hayden Buckley played well in Hawaii, his life changed. Now, after day 2 of the Sony Open, he is on the brink of déjà vu.
Despite a “miserable start” to the Day 2 round at Waialae, the 26-year-old, looking for his first PGA Tour victory, shot a 64 and sits T-2, one shot outside of 10. under Taylor Montgomery’s lead.
The atmosphere was similar to the Mississippi native’s peak college experience. During his junior year at the University of Missouri, Buckley led off the final hole for an 11-under 61 second round at Makai Golf Club at the Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational, which he would later win. Buckley claimed four degrees at the university.
Prior to that round, Buckley had hardly any Tour aspirations. He was a high school baseball player, but upon entering college, his school gave him an ultimatum.
Full field scores from the Sony Open in Hawaii
“They made me choose between the two,” Buckley said Friday after his round in Waialae. “(Golf and baseball) are both in the spring, so they decided: you make the decision, and I didn’t think I was going to make it in baseball as young as I was, and I think I made a good decision.” .”
However, he was lightly recruited to play golf in college, so when he went to Missouri, Buckley joined the golf team.
Still, her main goal was to get her degree in health sciences. Then his 61st in Makai changed everything.
“I was studying harder than practicing,” Buckley said Friday after his round in Waialae. “Actually, I was planning to have a good potential job and didn’t find out about it until about my junior year of college. That’s when things started to click a bit.”
“That last year, that 61 in Hawaii, was when it was validated that I could do it, but my junior year is probably when I really wanted to keep going.”
With his studies on the back burner, Buckley was named the 2018 Mizzou Male Athlete of the Year as a senior. Four years later, after winning on the Mackenzie and Korn Ferry tours, Buckley was a rookie on Tour, something he couldn’t have imagined half a decade earlier.
But one day in Hawaii changed his life, and maybe after another two rounds in the Aloha State, Buckley is a Tour winner: his life, again, changed forever.
“(That 61) was one of those days, I felt like today, where I felt like I had a look on every hole,” he said. “All the putts went in that day.”