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GOING LOWWith the golf, the only thing to get used to is more birdies, which isn't bad at all. "The course setups we played in college were harder," Flores says. Even par was a great score then not solely because the fields were watered down with future desk-jockeys. Flores thinks the sentiment that it's distasteful to have your course torched by "some college kid" is less pervasive in the pro ranks. Hal Geyer, one of the rules officials in charge of setup at Web.com events, says protecting par never enters his mind. "I find the best four hole locations on each green, and that's it. There might be better times of year to play some of these courses so the rough would be different, but the fact is, these guys don't get enough credit for how good they are."
"When the European stars are away at the majors and WGCs, you could put up a Web.com field against any European Tour field," Loar says. As for the PGA Tour, "Those guys wouldn't necessarily score any better on the courses we play. But up there you have to drive it straighter and make birdies with all your irons." "On Web.com you can definitely get away with it a bit more," says Spencer Levin. And by "it" he means freewheeling with the driver.
Brazilian Alex Rocha, who has competed in 50 PGA Tour events and is trying to regain full status, has at times called his coach, Jason Birnbaum, forlorn after a 67 or 68. "He knows that the way he hit the ball, that slight spray or sloppiness wouldn't have worked on the big tour," Birnbaum says.
Walking down a Web.com range, Loar says maybe one in four players has "that sound" of a ball perfectly compressed. On the PGA Tour, he says it's more like one in two. "Of course, you can hear a clank and then look up and see a guy who's made $25 million."
Daniel Chopra, who has two PGA Tour wins, says golf is golf. "The difference is the setting. Out here it's peaceful and quiet. Out there it's chaos, tens of thousands of people and big trucks backing in all over the place."
Hadley and his fellow graduates know the only thing they can do is believe in their ability. Right now it's the business of golf that has Hadley's attention. A PGA Tour card means new contracts, and so he's looking into getting an agent. "It can't just be anyone. You have to find someone you enjoy writing big checks to."
How to know if you've got what it takes for Web.com?
"Simple," Wilcox says. "You've got to be going deep every day. I play with friends at home shooting 70, 71 on their course, and they'll tell me they're thinking about turning pro. I'm just like, Dude."
Wilcox thinks his success has come from low expectations. "I never thought I'd make it to where I'm at. When I was 16, I wished I was as good as tons of other kids." Not exactly covering his employment options, Wilcox failed every class his last semester of college. Transitioning to the life of mini-tour golfer was not a shock to his system.
"I did nothing but play and practice every day. And then I started shooting 66, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me."