Trying to keep his card, Stefani making most of sponsor exemption


HUMBLE, Texas – Shawn Stefani was well on his way to keeping his card late last year before being diagnosed with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Now, he has only a few starts left to try to stay on the PGA Tour, and he’s making the most of one this week at the Shell Houston Open.

Playing on a sponsor exemption in his hometown, Stefani buried a 60-foot putt on his second-to-last hole of the day to cap a second-round 69. At 8-under 136, he is four shots behind Sergio Garcia.

Stefani received a minor medical extension after he suffered a herniated disk in his neck. He has only one start remaining on it after missing the cut at Torrey Pines. He needs a top-20 finish here (or about $84,000) to maintain his playing privileges.

“Coming into here I’ve been playing well,” he said, “so I was looking forward to this event.”

Stefani received a quick lesson from putting guru Dave Stockton Sr. on Thursday night, and it translated to a six-birdie performance on Day 2.

The main takeaway from the lesson was to “make the putting (stroke) more natural and kind of use your ability and your talent,” Stefani said. “If I keep doing what I’m doing and stay patient with the process of everything, then I think this weekend will be a good deal.”