Its like groundhog day, chirped former Shell Houston Open winner Mike Heinen. You just keep getting up and seeing the same thing. But somehow youve got to focus to get the job done. Im hoping my experience will help. Heinen told me hes lost count of the Q-School appearances hes made. And hes not the only one.
One-hundred-sixty-seven players, like Heinen, arrive sporting stout resumes, but must somehow put disappointment behind and find the positive. After all, they are chasing a golden carrot that will give them the chance at competing with the worlds best, and the opportunity to set themselves up for life financially.
But unlike the Skins Game, which took place last weekend, this is about more than just padding the bankroll. Many of these players are down to their last meaningful dollars, which makes this a REAL competition of men putting everything on the line.
Fifteen former PGA Tour winners are here, including the likes of Tommy Armour, Michael Bradley, Tom Byrum, Nolan Henke and Gabriel Hjertstedt. Bradley and Hjertstedt dont have to look too far back to find that success, but as each player will attest, that PGA Tour card that is up for grabs this week is simply a loaner.
Ask Joe Ogilvie, who nearly upended David Duval at this years British Open. He finished 139th in moneyand now, just seven days from his wedding week, he must find a way to recapture the job that will help pay the honeymoon expenses.
With all due respect, Ogilvie said, this is one of the weaker fields of the year. You dont see many of these guys competing on any given week on the PGA Tour. So with that mindset, I feel like if I just play my game and let my ability get the job done.
Thats pretty good thinking for a man who doesnt need more stress than an upcoming wedding!
Actually, that intense pressure to somehow stay focused on the prize has even the chattiest of players staying quiet this week. Interviews are as tough to come by as finding out whos getting more in the divorce settlement, Nicole Kidman or Tom Cruise.
Indeed, nothing is guaranteed this week. Some are here for the first time, looking to take a spot away from a man used to a certain way of living afforded by playing on the PGA Tour. And those finishing near the top of the field arent guaranteed much, either. Ask Steven Allan ' last years medallist at the finals in La Quinta, Calif. He wasnt able to parlay that success into a great year, finishing outside the top 150 on the money list, which would at least get him a few starts in the upcoming year. And for that matter, Tommy Tolles is back after flirting with victory at this event a year ago. And so, too, is David Moreland. And so on. And so on. And so on.
This, folks, is the real Skins Game. Everything on the line. Every shot matters. Every putt matters. Every scorecard signature matters.
Its name players competing against up-and-comers for one of just 35 spots that will allow them access to the big money. And so you tell me ' what is more compelling theater? Norman, Woods, Montgomerie and Parnevik? Or perhaps Ben Crane, Steve Holmes, Brian Sharp or Boo Weekley finding their way to the PGA Tour with the chance to beat the Skins Game Four and make grinding after that dangling carrot all worthwhile.