When was the last time Lee Janzen stood over a putt with meaning -- and made it?
"I made one at 16 and 17, too!" Janzen proudly pointed out Sunday night, driving from Greensboro, N.C. to Raleigh for a direct flight to New Jersey for The Barclays, the first event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The two-time U.S. Open champion sealed his ticket to the playoffs by saving par from five feet on the 72nd hole of the Wyndham Championship -- but as he pointed out, that last putt wouldn't have meant anything without those birdies on the 70th and 71st holes.
That 2-3-4 finish gave Janzen a closing-round 67 and enough FedEx Cup points to jump from 154th to 144th in the standings and get the last playoff spot. It was the opposite of his situation last year, when he only made one cut after finishing T-13 at the U.S. Open and was bumped on the final week of the season.
"I 'hunched' it," Janzen said. "I knew I was 154th but didn't know what I had to shoot to move up."
A tie for 21st at Reno-Tahoe put Janzen in position to make his move, but he was "ticked to finish the way I did," with a 73 Sunday. He started his final round at Sedgefield CC in Greensboro with a bogey at the first hole and an out-of-bounds double bogey at the fourth, but then rallied with six closing birdies.
"I've had tournaments where there were mistakes I know I can eliminate, but I hadn't done it," he said.
Janzen's next goal is to secure his PGA Tour card for 2009, but at least he doesn't have to sit out the next month, awaiting the Fall Finish. Since 2005 he has not finished inside the top-125 on the money list and is currently ranked 151st going into the Barclays. He credits work with Steve Yellin and Buddy Biancalana at PMPM Sports. Yellin played college tennis at Penn and won the Florida State high school singles title. Biancalana was the shortstop for the Kansas City Royals in 1985.
"These are not sport psychologists," Janzen said. "They believe in a quiet mind. You see Tiger, he's got a quiet mind over every shot. You can tell he's always swinging freely, always totally free."
It's hard to have that freedom after four years of frustrating results, but seeing the ball go in the hole over those last three holes in Greensboro will surely help quite Janzen's mind.
Or at least trigger thoughts of the old days.