Keep on Tryon

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PGA Tour (75x100)LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- You could see it as he walked out of the scorers trailer off the 18th hole on the Magnolia Course at Disneys Funai Classic. There was something in his eyes, something in his stride.
 
He had just officially played his final round as a card-carrying member on the PGA Tour. But what was visible wasnt frustration. It wasnt anger or disappointment. It was a sense of urgency.
 
Ty Tryon really had to use to the restroom.
 
When he emerged from the locker-room facilities, all of two reporters were waiting to ask him about his future plans; to ask him about his state of mind, his emotions; to ask him what went wrong.
 
I tried my best, he said. Just wasnt meant to be, I guess.
 
It was a far different visual from two-and-a-half years ago, when he first exploded onto the PGA Tour scene. When everyone wanted to know everything about the 16-year-old kid with the spiky hair, the imperfect complexion, the big smile and the seemingly bigger game.
 
But that explosion proved more firecracker than big bomb. It was bright, loud and fascinating. And short-lived.
 
After Monday qualifying in the 2001 Honda Classic, he became the youngest player in 44 years to make the cut in a tour event. He also made the cut later that year in the B.C. Open.
 
Tryon then turned professional and made it through all three stages of the Qualifying Tournament to gain his PGA Tour status. He was still only 17, and the youngest player ever to earn his tour card.
 
That created quite a stir. Curiosity turned to criticism.
 
I think its a joke, Scott Hoch, whose son, Cameron, played with Tryon in high school, said at the time. I know Ty. Its a terrible decision.
 
PGA Tour officials didnt publicly agree with the derogatory sentiments -- that extended far beyond Hoch, but they reacted by implementing a rule that required a person to be at least 18 years of age to compete on their circuit.
 
I still dont understand why they care so much about me; it just blows my mind why they care so much, Tryon said of his critics after missing the cut at Disney. They wouldnt care about me if I went to college; they wouldnt even know who I was, probably. Because Im a pro, they all worry about me. Ive never really understood that, so I dont really care what they think.
 
Tryons performance over the last two years has given his pundits plenty of ammunition to support their disapproval: It was too much, too soon, for someone too young.
 
After finally turning 18 in June, he played six events in 2002 before battling a bout of mononucleosis that ended his season. He was awarded a Major Medical Extension for 2003, meaning he had 21 tournaments to win $515,000, equaling what No. 125 on the money list earned in 02.
 
He missed by a mile.
 
Tryon made four of 21 cuts this year, finishing 196th on the money list. The money he collected for his 10th-place showing at Bay Hill accounted for nearly 75 percent of his $125,875 yearly earnings.
 
Im not going to be discouraged, because I know Ive got the talent. And I feel at times that I got the game. Im just not there yet, he said. I think maybe another year or so, Ill get better, get a little older. Ill be ready.
 
That next year may be on the Nationwide Tour ' golfs version of Off Broadway.
 
Tryon is set to play in this weeks second stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. He will compete at Hombre Golf Club in Panama City Beach, Fla. If he makes it through to the finals, he will compete outside of his hometown of Orlando at Orange County National, where he shot 63 in the second stage in 2001.
 
Even if he fails to make it through to the finals this time, he will still have status on the developmental circuit by virtue of cracking the top 200 on the PGA Tours money list.
 
You might think that Tryon would be downtrodden by his failure to keep his card. That, at the immature age of 19, he might not see the benefits of playing outside of the spotlight, and inside of the shadows.
 
But thats not the case.
 
I think it (playing on the Nationwide Tour) would be very beneficial. Im going to go out there and be able to mature at my own pace a little bit more, be able to become my own person. I feel like I was under the microscope a bit out here and it will be a little less out there, he admitted.
 
Its kind of a fresh start, you know. Its been a great experience out here. But Im kind of happy ' its a lot to expect out here. Theres a lot of pressure on you, a lot of expectations, a lot of eyes, a lot of people [saying] what they think should work, while youre trying to grow up yourself.
 
Despite the disastrous on-course results, this experience was not a bust. In fact, it proved overwhelmingly positive in terms of self-discovery.
 
Aaron Baddeley knows Tryon will only continue to grow ' personally and professionally ' by taking a step back.
 
Baddeley turned professional on the heels of a highly successful amateur career and then surprisingly missed out on earning his PGA Tour card by failing to make it through the finals of the 2001 Q-School.
 
Instead, the then 20-year-old Australian was relegated to the minor league.
 
The best time of my life, said Baddeley, who finished 10th on the 2002 Nationwide Tour money list to gain his PGA Tour status, and then nearly won the Sony Open in his debut as a card-carrying member.
 
Out there, youre able to find out what works for you ' just the little things like how much you like to practice, where to go eat, how much to work out.
 
You have to find out what works for you, and its easier to do that when youre not in the spotlight.
 
Tryon doesnt lack confidence; he lacks consistency. And he knows that the best place to find that is not in locations like Pebble Beach or Westchester, but in Broussard, La., and Boise, Idaho.
 
I think I can do everything well, but I do it in streaks, he said. I just have to be more consistent, just sort of milquetoast, just sort of bland. More of just knocking the ball straight, with less flash.
 
And more of just golf.
 
Tryon admitted that he entered tour life nave. He wasnt prepared for peripheral overlaod: booking hotels; rental cars; agents; endorsements; the fans; the media; and on and on and on.
 
In the beginning it was definitely pretty overwhelming. Things just didnt turn out to be the way I thought it would be, said Tryon. It wasnt just golf; you had to focus on so many other things.
 
So now, assuming he doesnt again run the remainder of the Q-School table and regain his PGA Tour card, Tryon is off to the Nationwide Tour.
 
Its a demotion in status. Its something that could deflate the ego.
 
Its also something that could be the best thing for Tryons career.
 
Im going to go play wherever I play, if its in Europe or if its the Nationwide or the Hooters Tour or wherever and just hopefully keep having fun and playing golf, he said.
 
I came out here and I got down for a while, just wasnt having that much fun; I wasnt really enjoying it. I have a better outlook now.
 
And, as Baddeley points out: Hes not even 20.
 
Related Links:
  • PGA Tour Q-School - Stage 2 Results