Cauley all but locks up PGA Tour card for 2012


SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Bud Cauley may have come up just shy of his first PGA Tour win, but a third-place finish at the Open all but assures his card for 2012.

Cauley closed with 5-under 66 to finish in solo third and earn $340,000 at CordeValle. Combined with the $331,150 made in his first six starts as a professional, he will have enough to surge into the equivalent of 114th on the money list.

Barring an accounting anomaly, Cauley will finish the year inside the top 125 on the money list. He is looking good to become the first player since Ryan Moore in 2005 to earn his Tour card as a rookie without having to go to Q-school.

The last guy to do that before Moore? Tiger Woods.

'Those are two pretty good names,' said Cauley, who has gained entry into next week's McGladrey Classic.

Now aware of his position, Cauley said he had not focused on the paychecks in his first seven pro starts.

'I never gave it much thought,' he said. 'I was just going to give myself as many opportunities as possible to play.'

His rapid ascendance came as a surprise to at least one of his soon-to-be peers. At the fourth hole on Saturday, playing partner Ernie Els asked Cauley when he was planning to join the paid ranks. Cauley explained that he had turned pro earlier this year, after completing his junior year at Alabama.

'By the back nine, he knew I was a professional,' Cauley said with a smile.

Competing on the PGA Tour, however, is not drastically different for Cauley than competing among the collegiate and amateur standouts he had been facing until June.

'It's not too different if you don't make it different,' he said.