When I began posting on the Fall Series, these last five tournaments that determined the fate of players close to the top 125 cutoff to keep their PGA Tour cards, I highlighted certain players as illustrations.
Here’s what eventually happened to them: where they were on the money list when I previewed them, where they finished and how they did in the last five tournaments of the year, the latter being a sort of clinical explanation of the end result.
The bold results all finished at 125th or lower and kept their cards. The others are all exempt directly into the Final Stage of Q-School and presumably, will be entered. The exception is Henrick Stenson who has a five-year exemption by virtue of his 2009 win in The Players Championship.
At first, when you look at all the tournament results, it looks like a lot of bland statistics. Snore. Who cares? But to put more of a human face on it, these are some of the best players in the world and it is a testament to the difficulty of the game that these results are such a hodgepodge. The more I reviewed them, the more interesting they became. Of the nineteen net players (there are four duplicates on the lists), only eight retained their cards.
And perhaps there’s a lesson in their experience that will help you be a little more patient with your game. Here are some of the best players in the game who play and practice incessantly, who work out routinely, who work with teachers with reputations for working with Tour players. Even the young players in this list have been playing competitive golf for years: amateur, college, mini-tours, the Nationwide Tour and, of course, the PGA Tour. And, with their backs against the wall, with everything riding on the results, this is the best they could muster. Now, there could have been injuries, the down-cycle in the inevitable cycles, family issues, hubris, disinterest, golf fatigue and who knows what else. But still.
So the next time you get angry with yourself over a bad shot or a bad round, stop a minute and think of these guys. And be a little gentle with yourself. It’ll help you stay in the game in a way that’s a lot more powerful and enjoyable.
On the other hand, congratulations to both Jonathan Byrd and Robert Garrigus who overcame all the long odds and won tournaments to keep their cards. And in Garrigus’ case, in the very last tournament after a dismal Fall Series. Hang around long enough and good things will happen. Or, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “It’s never over until it’s over.”
The Viking Classic – Madison, Mississippi
120 – Woody Austin – 129 – Cut, T25, T38, T63, Cut
125 – Chris Stroud – 102 – T5, T66, WD, T22, T7
130 – Jonathan Byrd – 55 – T5, T66, T30, P1, DNP
The McGladrey Classic – Sea Island, Georgia
120 Briny Baird – 127 – T29, Cut, Cut, 69, T23
125 Webb Simpson – 94 – Cut, T12, T44, T4, T40
130 Scott McCarron – 141 – T29, T45, Cut, T45, Cut
Frys.com Open – San Martin, California
120 Michael Allen – 130 – 2, DNP, T63, WD, Cut
125 Aron Price – 131 – Cut, T9, T63, Cut, T65
130 Joe Ogilvie – 143 – Cut, Cut, Cut, Cut, T54
Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children – Las Vegas, Nevada
120 Aaron Baddeley – 110 – Cut, T64, T30, T8, T65
125 Woody Austin – 129 – Cut, T25, T38, T63, Cut
130 John Mallinger – 133 – Cut, Cut, T18, Cut, T30
Children’s Miracle Network Classic – Orlando, Florida
120 Joe Durant – 124 – T20, T6, T27, DNP, T40
121 Troy Merritt – 125 – Cut, T33, T18, T50, T30
122 Robert Garrigus – 51 – Cut, Cut, T66, T58, 1
123 Woody Austin – 129 – Cut, T25, T38, T63, Cut
124 Michael Allen – 130 – 2, DNP, T63, WD, Cut
125 Troy Matteson – 128 – T36, Cut, Cut, Cut, T45
126 Briny Baird – 127 – T29, Cut, Cut, 69, T23
127 Aron Price – 131 – Cut, T9, T63, Cut, T65
128 Bob Estes – 132 – Cut, Cut, Cut, T41, Cut
129 Michael Connell – 115 – T11, T15, Cut, T14, T7
130 Henrik Stenson – 134 – Cut, Cut, T38, DNP, DNP
To the survivors, congratulations once again. Nice work.
And to those moving on to Q-School, good luck, play well. You’re PGA Tour players; you’ve done it before and you can do it again.