'Bubble boys' fighting for Tour card at McGladrey


ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – The PGA Tour season finale is still three weeks away but it’s never too early to talk about the circuit’s “bubble boys,” that is unless you happen to be one of the crash crunched.

A few players helped their cause on Friday at the McGladrey Classic, the penultimate official-money event, including Arjun Atwal, who is pacing the field through two rounds at 10 under par.

At 175th on the money list, Atwal needs a big week here at Sea Island Resort, or next month’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, to keep his Tour card. Back-to-back solid rounds (67-63) are a start.

He’s been in this position before, however. In 2010 Atwal was playing his final event on a medical extension and won the Wyndham Championship, and in 2008 he was 34th on the Web.com Tour money list and won the third-to-last event in Tennessee to secure his Tour status.

“I don’t know why I’m like that,” said Atwal, who doesn’t have a top-20 finish this season. “Maybe I get a little complacent.”

Mathew Goggin has been here before as well. He’s 178th in earnings, but then the Australian hasn’t finished inside the top 125 since 2009, so his second-round 66 helped ease the sting of what has been an “excruciating” season.

“The fall series is like a 16-round Q-School for me,” said Goggin, who is tied for seventh at 7 under. “All you can do is pull on what you’ve done before.”

Which brings us to Gavin Coles, who is 179th in earnings and celebrated his 44th birthday on Friday with a 65 that lifted him into a tie for fourth place. Last year the Australian celebrated birthday No. 43 with a victory at the Web.com Tour’s Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open to reclaim his Tour card.

“We’ll see,” he smiled in his best Ben Crenshaw impersonation.