LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Robert Garrigus knows the unique pressure awaiting the bubble boys on the top 125 money list going into the Children’s Miracle Network Classic this week.
He said when you’re on or around that 125th spot, it feels like you’ve arrived at a career crossroads.
“It’s kind of like knowing you might be the CEO of a company, but if you don’t play well you might be the janitor,” Garrigus said. “That's what it feels like.”
A year ago, Garrigus was in the middle of the drama that unfolds with players trying to secure PGA Tour cards in the last event of the season. Garrigus was sweating it out at No. 122 on the money list before breaking through to win at Disney. It was his first PGA Tour title.
Walking into the media center at Disney Tuesday, Garrigus crossed paths with Robert Gates, who is No. 124 on this week’s money list.
“I can feel what he’s feeling,” Garrigus said. “Pretty much every single year when I’ve come here I’ve needed to finish in the top 5 to get my card.”
Garrigus had some advice for Gates.
“No mental mistakes,” Garrigus said. “That’s what I told myself last year.”
Garrigus won a year ago closing with a 64, defeating Roland Thatcher by three shots. He is still enjoying the perks of his victory. Driving into Disney World, his face was featured on billboards promoting the event. It’s also on the room keys at the Shades of Green Resort here.
“I have never seen my face on anything,” Garrigus said. “It’s kind of ugly, but it’s kind of neat.”
There’s even winning in the losing at Disney. Though Garrigus won comfortably last year, there was drama over who finished runner up. Thatcher needed to finish solo second to crack the top 125 in money. He needed to make a final 5-foot putt for par to secure his PGA Tour card for this year, which he did.
“I couldn’t imagine having a more stressful moment in my life,” Thatcher said.
Money’s doubly intriguing at Disney this year with the battle for the money title coming down to a showdown between Webb Simpson and Luke Donald, who rank No. 1 and No. 2 on the money list, respectively.
“It’s a stressful week, but being able to handle pressure is why we are out here,” Garrigus said.
Garrigus slayed some demons winning at Disney. Early last year, he blew a three-shot lead at the final hole in Memphis. He was apparently reminded of the failure too frequently.
“It feels great to be able to close this one off and figuratively shut everybody up about Memphis,” Garrigus said upon winning Disney.
Garrigus arrives outside the Magic Kingdom feeling a lot less pressure now. He’s 56th on the PGA Tour money list with $1,503,923 in earnings. He started the year strong, finishing second at the season-opening Hyundai Championship in Maui. He tied for third at the U.S. Open to secure an invite to his first Masters next year.
“This year is completely different,” Garrigus said. “I’ve made my money. I’ve almost won a couple times. It’s a lot of fun here.”
There’s fun knowing there’s no danger of demotion to golf’s janitorial duty.