Four months ago, Bryson DeChambeau was the toast of golf. The reigning U.S. Amateur and NCAA individual champion made a splash at the Masters, hovering around the leader board for most of the weekend as an amateur. The following week, the SMU product made his pro debut in style, finishing fourth at the RBC Heritage. These performances -- combined with his cerebral, analytical approach to the game and a unique equipment and wardrobe arsenal -- made DeChambeau a fascinating study. Many around the game wondered: was this the next face of golf?
While DeChambeau certainly has a promising future, the recent present hasn't been so bright. After Hilton Head, he missed four straight cuts. He had flashes of brilliance at the U.S. Open, leaving Oakmont with a respectable 15th-place finish. However, he's produced nothing of merit since, finishing 64th at the Quicken Loans National and missing the cut at the RBC Canadian Open. He's off to an inauspicious start at TPC River Highlands as well, shooting a two-over 72 on Thursday, eight strokes behind the leaders.
This is especially problematic for DeChambeau. Barring a miracle Friday round, the Travelers Championship will end his quest for a tour card, forcing the prodigy to achieve membership in alternative routes.
The Travelers marks DeChambeau's 12th start on the PGA Tour this season. By rule, non-tour members are allowed just 12 appearances per year. Theoretically, DeChambeau -- if he musters a comeback Friday and somehow finishes second or third in the tournament -- could earn Special Temporary Membership, which could bestow invitations to the John Deere Classic and Wyndham Championship. That route is highly unlikely.
DeChambeau, according to a tour official, could play in the John Deere and Wyndham through Monday qualifiers, as that would not count towards the 12 appearances. Because of FedEx Cup points accumulated, he will also be entered into the Web.com Tour Finals, which is a series of four events. The Web.com Tour Finals awards tour cards to the top-25 finishers that haven't earned their cards from the circuit's regular season money list. This offers the best platform for DeChambeau to gain entry to the PGA Tour.
In short, DeChambeau still has a shot at a card for the 2016-17 season. But time, and opportunities, are running short.