Bigley From maintenance man to the PGA Tour

By Associated PressMay 6, 2011, 1:32 am

Wells Fargo ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. – Bryan Bigley is accustomed to getting up early and heading for the golf course. Only this time, he wasn’t firing up a mower or grabbing a rake.

Bigley was making his PGA Tour debut.

“I said, ‘Hi,’ to Jim Furyk and Stewart Cink on the putting green,” a beaming Bigley said Thursday. “They were probably asking, ‘Who’s this guy over here?’ If I didn’t have golf shoes and pants on, they’d probably think I was just out here working.”

The 26-year-old maintenance guy at a nearby golf course was still smiling even after his 6-over 78 in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship. After all, it was a breakthrough for him after a move to North Carolina, countless hours on a mower, failed attempts at sponsorship and the constant scraping together of money to pay entry fees for mini-tours and qualifiers.

“He’s chasing his dream,” said his father, Rob Bigley, “and he was living his dream today.”

Bigley’s story illustrates the numerous obstacles to make golf’s big time, an accomplishment Bigley described Thursday as “a little slice of heaven.”

He and is brother, Rob Jr., spent a large chunk of their childhood at Pinehaven Country Club outside Albany, N.Y., where their father is the longtime course superintendent. Bigley played golf at Siena, saved some money and decided he needed to move to warmer weather to achieve his goal of making the PGA Tour.

He decided Charlotte, with a lower cost of living than Florida and which hosts numerous mini-tour events, would be a good fit. Bigley found an apartment, a job at a golf course and worked on his game.

Bigley works 12 out of every 14 days from 6-11 a.m. at Raintree Country Club in Charlotte. Then he plays. In his spare time, if funds allow, he enters lower-tier events.

But after three years, the money saved for his dream was running low. With no sponsors, Bigley didn’t have nearly enough money to enter PGA Tour qualifying school.

“It’s like his back is against the wall a little,” said his girlfriend, Brooke Barrows, a middle school teacher who works summers at the tennis shop at Raintree.

Bigley had failed to qualify for six PGA Tour events in three years. He said he missed making the Turning Stone event in New York by one shot and missed the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro by two strokes.

Monday was different.

After a 5-hour wait following his early round, he birdied the first two playoff holes to make the Quail Hollow field.

“There are a lot of guys who play the mini-tours for years who never get a chance to get inside the ropes in a PGA event, let alone an event like this one at a course like this,” Bigley said.

But there was much to be done amid the constant ribbing of people calling him “Carl Spackler,” Bill Murray’s colorful character in “Caddyshack.”

The first thing was to call his boss and say he couldn’t cut grass the rest of the week. Bigley then cut a deal with Jason Brodie, an unemployed Raintree member who carried his bag in the qualifier, to caddie for him.

“He said, ‘All right, I’ll give you a lunch and a beer,”’ Brodie said of the negotiations. “I told him, ‘Sold. I’m there.’ It’s been like a dream.”

Bigley then scrambled to get in a Tuesday practice round at Quail Hollow. It was the first time he played at the exclusive club about a 15-minute ride from his job.

“It’s not like I can call up and say, ‘I work maintenance at Raintree, can I come out and play?”’ Bigley said, smirking. “They probably wouldn’t even let me mow the greens over here.”

Now tournament officials were giving him a Mercedes courtesy car. That, though, produced a problem when he got to his house Wednesday night and remembered the garage door opener was still in his beat up Honda.

“I figured I could just sleep in the Mercedes,” Bigley said, “but my clubs were in the garage. I wouldn’t have been able to get at those.”

After two hours with a locksmith, Bigley finally got into his home at about 10 p.m. It wasn’t necessarily the best way to spend the night before your first PGA Tour event, but Bigley insists he slept well.

He teed off in a chill at 9 a.m. Thursday with Keegan Bradley and Justin Hicks. He parred the first two holes before a stretch of three bogeys in four. Bigley struggled with long second shots and putting on the difficult layout, finishing with five bogeys, a double and a birdie.

“One hole, I don’t even remember the number, I hit 5-wood in and I get up there and I had no chance of making a four. It’s just tough,” he said. “But I don’t think I’m out of it. I’m down there a ways but if I have a good round (Friday) I can hopefully get somewhere around even, 1- or 2-over and make the cut.”

His father and girlfriend will be in the gallery on Friday. So will dozens of Raintree members and employees – some of whom played out of the bunkers Bigley raked in his last day at work on Sunday.

“Being inside the ropes and have people cheer for you and clap and say, ‘Come on, let’s go!’ is really cool,” Bigley said. “For the last three years, this was the goal, to get to the PGA Tour.

“Now I’ve got a taste of it, I want to be back.”

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Bjorn adds four Ryder Cup veterans as vice captains

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 1:05 pm

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has added a quartet of vice captains for the biennial matches this fall in Paris.

Bjorn had already named Robert Karlsson as his first assistant, and he announced Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship that his group of advisors will also include major champions Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, and former world No. 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

Westwood is among Europe's most decorated Ryder Cup players, and his addition in this role signals he likely won't participate as a player in the matches for the first time since 1995. The Englishman has spoken openly about his desire to captain the European squad at Whistling Straits in 2020, but he's been quiet on the course in recent months, with a missed secondary cut at the Houston Open his only start since mid-February.

Harrington is seen as another possible captain for the 2020 matches, and he'll don an earpiece for the third straight Ryder Cup, having represented Europe as a player on six straight teams from 1999-2010.

Donald played on four Ryder Cup teams from 2004-12, with the Europeans winning each time he was on the roster. This will mark his first stint as a vice captain, as Donald announced last month that he would be sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a back injury.

At age 38, McDowell will be the youngest vice captain in the room, having holed the winning putt eight years ago at Celtic Manor. He won the French Open in both 2013 and 2014 at Le Golf National, site of this year's matches, and will also be making his debut as a vice captain.

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Bidder pays $50,000 to caddie for Woods

By Grill Room TeamMay 22, 2018, 12:28 pm

Someone has paid $50,000 to caddie for Tiger Woods at this year’s Hero World Challenge.

An unnamed bidder paid for the opportunity at an auction Saturday night at Tiger Jam, where monies are raised to support the Tiger Woods Foundation.

The Hero World Challenge will be contested Nov. 29-Dec. in Albany, Bahamas. The pro-am is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:28 am

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Arizona grabs last spot with eagle putt, playoff win

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 3:18 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – With her team freefalling in the standings, Arizona coach Laura Ianello was down to her last stroke.

The Wildcats began the final round of the NCAA Championship in third place, but they were 19 over par for the day, and outside the top-8 cut line, with only one player left on the course.

Bianca Pagdaganan had transferred from Gonzaga to compete for NCAA titles, and on the 17th hole Ianello told her that she needed to play “the best two holes of your life” to keep the dream alive.

She made par on 17, then hit a 185-yard 6-iron out of a divot to 30 feet. Not knowing where she stood on the final green, Pagdaganan felt an eerie calm over the ball. Sure enough, she buried the eagle putt, setting off a raucous celebration and sending the Wildcats into a play-five, count-four team playoff with Baylor at 33 over par.

Their match-play spot wasn’t yet secure, but Ianello still broke down in tears.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

“Bianca is such an inspiration for all of us,” she said. “She’s the kind of kid that you want to root for, to have good things happen to.”

Arizona prevailed on the second playoff hole. As the 8 seed, the Wildcats will play top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals Tuesday at Karsten Creek.

Though the finish had plenty of drama, no teams played their way into the coveted top 8 on the final day of stroke-play qualifying.

Baylor came closest. The Bears barely advanced past regionals after a mysterious stomach virus affected several players and coaches. They competed in the final round with just four healthy players.

On Monday, Gurleen Kaur put Baylor in position to advance, shooting 68, but the Bears lost by three strokes on the second extra hole.

Arkansas finished one shot shy of the team playoff. The second-ranked Razorbacks, who entered NCAAs as one of the pre-tournament favorites, having won seven times, including their first SEC title, couldn’t overcome a 308-300 start and finished 10th. Player of the Year favorite Maria Fassi finished her week at 19 over par and counted only two rounds toward the team total.