Cuts and Qualifiers – Tales From the PGA Tour

Pinehurst member Darron Stiles is the Web.Com Tour’s all-time career money-winner, which people who don’t know any better would say makes him the Crash Davis of golf. That isn’t accurate, of course, because Stiles has had five seasons on the PGA Tour, and the Tour success has translated to more than $1.8 million in earnings. Stiles has also earned more than $1.4 million in his five PGA Tour seasons.

Take that, Nuke.

Stiles has already seen his share of highs and lows this 2013 PGA Tour season. On occasion here at the Pinehurst Blog, he’ll recount those highs and lows – and cuts.

Take a ride with Stiles inside the PGA Tour with his second installment – “Cuts and Qualifiers”

Read Darron’s first installment, “Fight or Flight,” here.

Darron Stiles of the PGA Tour.

Darron Stiles of the PGA Tour.

Well, the last couple of weeks have proved to be very frustrating.

First, let’s start with my jaunt down to Puerto Rico.

Upon completion of my great week at The Honda Classic (T13), I made the 2-hour drive up to Orlando for my flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The flight left around 10 p.m. and got me to San Juan at 1:45 a.m.

Ah, the glamorous travel schedule of professional golfer.

By the time I reached the hotel and put my head on the pillow it was nearly 3 a.m. Not so bad right? Nope, just four hours later, I was up and awake for the Monday pro am that I had committed to play in. This is something I take pride in.  f I commit to play in an event or pro am, I do it. Despite the lack of sleep, the day went fairly well and my team had a great time playing.

After a much better night’s sleep, Tuesday was spent mostly working on my short game. I walked the course with my wedges and putter and hit shots from around all the greens. I find this to be a much better form of preparation rather than just chipping and putting in the practice area.

By Tuesday night, I was feeling ready for the week ahead on the golf course. Unfortunately, my golf game would prove to be Jekyll and Hyde for Thursday and Friday.

Let me give you some wisdom: You have to make putts to score well!

Got that?

Thursday was a battle from the opening tee shot until the final putt dropped. Mentally, I was in and out all day, and my great putting from the week before seemed to have deserted me as well. I did manage to shoot 72 (even par), which was not terrible, but left me needing a good day on Friday to make the weekend.

Friday was only slightly better than Thursday. My ballstriking was improved, but the putter still was not awake. By the time I reached the 15th hole, my fate of another missed cut was sealed, but I did manage to finish strong with birdies on 15, 16, and 18 to finish at 1 under for the two days.

Now comes more of the frustrating part of this business.

With missing the cut in Puerto Rico, I made things a little more difficult upon myself for getting into the next event. The Tampa Bay Championship is played at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., just 20 minutes from my childhood home in New Port Richey. As of the Friday entry deadline, I was the fifth alternate, but was in danger of dropping even further down the list with any top 10s from Puerto Rico going ahead of me.

Well, that’s exactly what happened.

After the results were finalized – congrats to Scott Brown on his victory – there were five guys from the top 10 who would directly affected my position on the entry list for Tampa.  I was relegated to the Monday qualifier at Fox Hollow to try my best to gain entry into the Tampa Bay Championship.

Fox Hollow is a course that I have been playing since it opened in 1994. So, needless to say, I know it well.

But just as my week in Puerto Rico went, so did Monday. I shot 71 (even par) and missed getting in by four shots.

There was good news though. I moved up the alternate list to 4th by the end of the day. Being among the top 10 alternates, I was allowed to practice at the tournament site. So Tuesday was spent doing just that. It was cool and misty morning on the golf course, but that did not deter me from getting ready to play should I get into the event.

By Tuesday afternoon I had moved up to 2nd alternate. This gave me some hope for Thursday that I might get in. I have had it happen before – the 2003 Wachovia Championship in Charlotte. Unfortunately, Thursday came and went with nobody withdrawing prior to their round. I did manage to get in a great day of practice though.

So now it’s off to Louisiana for the Web.Com Tour event in Lafayette. Bring on some great Cajun food and great friends!

Until next time…