What’s next for the ex-Cats who made their PGA Tour debuts in Kentucky?

Cooper Musselman, left, and Chip McDaniel both earned sponsor exemptions to play in the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship.
Cooper Musselman, left, and Chip McDaniel both earned sponsor exemptions to play in the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship.

When former University of Kentucky golf standouts Cooper Musselman and Chip McDaniel made the cut in the Barbasol Championship, they did more than just earn a share of the tournament’s $3.5 million purse along with a chance to continue testing their mettle against a field full of PGA pros for two more rounds. They also earned a ticket straight past the first stop on the road to securing a career in professional golf.

That’s because players who make the cut in an official PGA Tour event get to skip the first round of Web.com Tour qualifying, the process for awarding spots for the pro level right below the PGA Tour.

Because of their finishes at the Barbasol Championship, Musselman and McDaniel are exempt from the pre-qualifying round, a 54-hole event held at various courses around the country that costs $2,700 to enter and pits hundreds of aspiring pros against one another. Musselman and McDaniel are now automatically eligible for the official three-stage Web.com Tour qualifying tournament that will begin in October.

“That’s a really great feeling,” Musselman said after officially making the cut on Saturday. “It’s a relief not having to pre-qualify. Now I can just take a little extra time to focus on getting better.”

Musselman is moving to Orlando, Fla., in August. He plans to compete in a qualifier somewhere in the South and wants to get used to the different types of grass he’ll have to deal with in a new climate.

Former Clay County and University of Kentucky star golfer Chip McDaniel finished at 6-under par in the Barbasol Championship, his first PGA Tour event. McDaniel shot a 71 in his final round Sunday.

“It’s a little different down there,” he said. “I’ve got to get used to some Bermuda grass. I’m just going to hunker down there for the winter.”

But Musselman has more business to take care of in the Bluegrass state before heading to Florida to chase his professional dreams. He’ll look to defend his 2017 Kentucky Open title when this year’s tournament takes place at Big Spring Country Club in Goshen on July 31-Aug. 2.

McDaniel will join him in the Kentucky Open field before beginning his own preparations for qualifying.

“This got me out of pre-qualifying so I won’t have to worry about that for a month and a half, which is good,” McDaniel said.

Former St. Xavier and University of Kentucky star Cooper Musselman battled weather conditions and interruptions in play at the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship at Champions at Keene Trace. Musselman finished at 7-under par for the tournament.

Unlike his friend and former teammate, McDaniel isn’t planning to leave the state anytime soon.

“I’ll be in Kentucky for at least a few more years, I’m sure. I love it here.” McDaniel said after Saturday’s second round.

Wherever Chip McDaniel ends up putting down roots his brother Todd, who caddied for him in the Barbasol Championship, is confident he’ll make it as a pro golfer.

“This is just getting started,” Todd McDaniel said. “You guys are just seeing the start of a 30-year career with this kid. He’s going to do some big things, no doubt about it.”

Troy Merritt wins the PGA Tour Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville.

Troy Merritt, a 32-year-old from Meridian, Idaho, won the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship at Champions at Keene Trace in Nicholasville. Merritt talked about what it meant to get his second tour victory.

Former Henry Clay and Morehead State star Josh Teater shot a 73 on Monday to finish the Barbasol Championship at 12-under par. He will next play in a Web.com Tour event in Springfield, Mo.