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If you go
What: Northern Indiana Golf Show
Where: Memorial Coliseum
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 15; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 16
Admission: $6, kids 12 and younger free with paying adult
Features: Opportunities to get instruction, try out equipment and win prizes

Local golfer striving for berth


– The area code on his cell phone is still 260, and Justin Hueber would love nothing more than to have that phone blowing up with congratulatory calls and texts with a great showing at the Hotel Fitness Championship at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in August.

But that’s a ways off.

For now, Hueber, the former golf star at Leo and the University of Indianapolis, is just trying to get into tournaments on the Tour, which is one tier below the PGA Tour.

“The tournament in Fort Wayne is extra motivation for me,” said Hueber, 26, who has been a professional since 2010. “That would be what I’ve been working for – to play in Fort Wayne in a Tour Finals event and get (PGA Tour) status wrapped up for next year. It would be great to get a PGA Tour card in front of the home crowd.”

Hueber has spent the bulk of his time in professional golf playing one level below the Tour, on the NGA Tour. That circuit isn’t a huge money-making enterprise – in his last three tournaments, Hueber made $1,388 – but it prepares players for the Tour.

“It’s not lucrative by any means,” said Hueber, by telephone from outside Orlando, Fla., where he’s settling down. “Really the goal in mini-tour golf, (since) it’s so expensive, (is) if you can break even every year then you have money for the next year.”

His biggest check last year, $5,724, came from a fifth-place finish at the Honda PowerSports Classic in Florence, S.C. He shot 66-68-69-65 and finished six strokes back of the winner, Jon Curran, who won $22,000 in a playoff with James White.

In December, Hueber had a strong showing in the Tour qualifying tournaments and finished 88th, earning conditional status for this year. Had he finished in the top 45, he would have been exempt from qualifying for eight events.

It was frustrating to be so close to getting those exemptions, but it will make his task easier this season. With conditional status, the cost of playing in Monday qualifiers is greatly reduced. And if he qualifies for early season tournaments and fares well, he’ll get those exemptions he craves because the Tour folds players high on its money list into tournaments.

“It stinks not knowing when you’ll play or get into an event, but if you get in one, you have to take advantage of the opportunity,” he said.

Few players who have made it to the PGA Tour didn’t have to go through this.

“This is what every player starting out dreams of – getting the chance to play on the Tour,” Hueber said. “There’s only a handful of guys who don’t have to play the, guys like Jordan Spieth or Tiger Woods, without having to go to Q School or the Tour Finals. It’s really exciting but also frustrating knowing I was so close last year in the finals (of the Tour qualifying tournaments).”

The top 75 players from the Tour money list this year, and the players ranked 126 to 200 on the PGA Tour’s FedExCup points list, will be invited to participate in the Tour Finals, which start with the Hotel Fitness Championship on Aug. 25 to 31.

Players in the four-tournament Tour Finals vie for 50 PGA Tour cards.

Last year, in the inaugural running of the Hotel Fitness Championship, former Masters champion Trevor Immelman was the winner and won $180,000.

Hueber hopes a good season gets him to Sycamore Hills for Year 2.

“I feel like every aspect of my game can be sharpened up,” Hueber said. “I’m really working hard on the short game. I’m going to miss greens and hit bad shots, but if the short game is good, it can bail me out a lot.”