Wesley Bryan once swished a 40-yard wedge shot with a basketball. He banked a soccer ball off a brick wall and into a garbage can. He smashed a drive after Rory McIlroy flopped the ball over his brother’s head.
It makes winning a Web.com Tour event seem easy by comparison, no?
With his brother and trick-shot partner, George, on the bag, Bryan won the Chitimacha Louisiana Open on Sunday in just his third career Web.com start. Now up to No. 3 on the money list, he is in line for one of the 25 PGA Tour cards at the end of the season.
Yes, he can impress with normal golf shots, too.
“You always think and believe that you’re going to win,” Bryan said by phone Monday, “but the reality and statistics show that it just doesn’t happen very often. Being able to win so early is a huge jump-start toward the ultimate goal.”
The Bryan Bros have become viral video stars over the past few years. Their YouTube page has nearly 25,000 subscribers. A few of their stunts have more than a million views. They’ve inked sponsorship deals with companies like Callaway, GoPro and TopGolf.
But Sunday’s victory was a reminder that they’re more than just trick-shot artists.
Wesley, 25, was a two-time All-SEC performer at South Carolina with plenty of experience in big-time USGA events. George, 28, owns the lowest scoring average in school history at USC and his game is still plenty sharp – he shot 65 in last week’s Monday qualifier on the Web.com and missed by one shot. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, with his brother earning $99,000 for the victory.
The Bryans’ first trick-shot video, in 2014, gained more than a million views. Since then, they’ve traveled the country and posted more than 40 videos. Their schedule was so hectic last year with corporate outings, shows, member-guests, premieres and parties that Wesley played in only a handful of SwingThought Tour (formerly Hooters) events.
“It was the lightest schedule I’ve ever played,” he said. “I lived half of the year on an airplane.”
Last September, Wesley shut down all of the trick-shot requests and focused on his game. Playing the best golf of his life, he advanced through all three stages of Q-School, finishing ninth at the finals to earn his Web.com Tour card.
On the PGA Tour, Bryan might never need to hit a drive after it ricochets off four cement tiles, but there are ways in which his trick-shot career has helped his solo act.
“There have been plenty of times when I stand on the tee box and I think: If you throw this up and hit it, you’d have no problem hitting the fairway, so it should be a lot easier from the tee,” he said. “It just kind of frees you up for the shot.”
Bryan tied for seventh in his season opener. On Sunday, he holed a 15-foot birdie putt on 17 to shoot 68 and win by one over Julian Etulain in Louisiana. He plans to play every event until he locks up his card.
Seems Bryan has a lot more talent than just incredible hand-eye coordination.
“It’s very satisfying,” he said. “There’s no validation in my eyes, but maybe in the eyes of others who have only seen our videos. I’ve felt all along that I’m good enough for the PGA Tour.”
Becoming a Web.com Tour winner – and moving one step closer to the big leagues – won’t shut down the Bryans’ side business, however. Wesley was calling Monday from Dallas, on-site from their next trick-shot collaboration. He said that he and his brother likely will film four or five videos this year to fulfill their contractual obligations.
“They’ve got to be worth our while,” he said. “We’re only going to film massive collaborations.”
They still won’t be better than what he and his brother are producing this season.