He’s fighting for his job.
Playing the second of two events on a minor medical extension, Stefani needs to finish solo 35th or better to earn the six FedEx Cup points he needs to retain his card for the rest of the season. The rub, of course, is that even if he does record a high finish this week, he’ll have only the rest of this season to finish inside the top 125 and earn his card for 2014-15.
“I’ve got to get it going,” he conceded.
His status seemed to be in jeopardy Saturday, when he made back-to-back double bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6. Trying to “put it on damage control,” he offset those dropped shots with a pair of eagles (on Nos. 8 and 13) to shoot 73 and sit in solo seventh, eight shots behind Matt Kuchar.
“It’s a big week for me,” he said afterward. “I’ve gotta have a good one.”
Stefani finished 136th in 2013 FedEx Cup points after suffering a late-season neck injury. He took off three months and went hunting and fishing, and he burned one of his two medical starts at Torrey Pines, where he missed the cut.
Stefani received a sponsor invite into Houston, his hometown event, and prepared diligently knowing this was his last shot to maintain his playing privileges.
He made a pair of tune-up starts on the Web.com circuit, tying for 25th and missing the cut, and he even teed it up in a 72-hole mini-tour event on the Adams Golf Pro Tour.
Now, Stefani has started 67-69-73 to give himself a chance to stay on Tour.
“You can’t teach heart, and I’ve got a lot of it,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of fight in me.”