LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – As the math finally began to make sense late Sunday afternoon at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic and the reality started to sink in, Jerry Kelly could only smile.
At 126th on the season-ending PGA Tour money list Kelly should have been lamenting his near miss, just $1,809 outside the coveted top 125. Instead, the veteran took a deep breath and smiled.
“I’m about the happiest 126th guy you’d ever see,” he sighed.
Kelly had a more subtle goal at Disney. At 137th in earnings to start the week he knew the top 125 was a long shot. Instead it was his status on the Tour’s career money list that interested him.
At 25th in career earnings Kelly needed to stay there through Disney to be able to use a one-time Tour exemption in 2013, but he was just $61,331 ahead of Charles Howell III who was briefly tied for the lead on Saturday and playing solid golf.
“I did what I came here to do and that was to stay inside the top 25 in career money and it was shaky there for a while with Charles playing so well,” Kelly said.
Kelly closed with 66 for his “best round of the year by a long shot” to finish tied for ninth and earn $112,800, good enough to keep him $96,581 clear of Howell on the career list.
Kelly could have used a similar exemption for the top 50 money winners on the career list but his solid finish at Disney gave him an extra cushion thanks to a performance he was savoring late Sunday.
“There are moments for everything,” said Kelly, who struggled with injury and equipment changes in 2012 and managed his only top-10 finish at Disney. “There’s the top 125, top 25 in career money, and I wanted to be in that moment. I can say I succeeded in my moment.”