It had been a month since Auckland’s Nick Voke last made a cut on the Korn Ferry Tour when he went to bed last Friday night in Arlington, Texas. He’d made the weekend at the Veritex Bank Championship, but not the cut just yet as bad weather in the area suspended play for the day.
So Voke slept hovering around that cut line with two holes to finish in his second round and the potential for a critical marathon of a Saturday ahead of him. Yet that day started about dawn in the most stressful possible circumstances for a player trying to make a cut and accumulate points in this pandemic-stretched Korn Ferry Tour season.
After a morning stretch and warm-up, Voke and his caddie, Leonard Powell, stepped onto the lift at their hotel at 6:13am. They would not get out until almost 7 o’clock thanks to a malfunctioning lift, the kind of unexpected challenge and obstacle you seem to only hear about in the game’s less glamorous lower tours.
The two confronted the predicament with amusement, but that turned to agony as time passed and the threat of missing the resumption of their second round became real. Some practice putts on the lift carpet turned to more frenetic attempts to find help and brainstorm ways to break out of the malfunctioning lift.
“It was funny for like five minutes,” Powell said. “We were just sitting there on our phones. Put it on Instagram, and then it was like, ‘Oh, this isn’t actually moving.'”
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The hotel was unresponsive at first, but tour officials weren’t and they made it clear Voke would be disqualified if he did not make it to the course on time.
After 47 minutes, Voke was freed and re-focused on the nervy two holes he had to complete to make his cut. Fortunately, he is accustomed to the truncated warm-up – a routine he has a name for at home.
“We call this the Rolls Royce,” Voke said. “In New Zealand growing up, we don’t have driving ranges. So straight to the first tee, a couple of stretches to limber up, and away you go.”
Voke closed that second round with a birdie and par on his two remaining holes to make the cut. Then he went back to the hotel, caught a nap, and made sure to take the stairs down for an afternoon 65 in his third round. He went to record a T-46 finish.