Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

The Loop Tour Championship: When you’re playing for your career, one man’s agony is another’s ecstasy

October 04, 2015

Golf is disturbing enough, but imagine having to play it all-in, as they say in poker, your future on the table?

This is the Tour Championship, which has replaced in part the old Q School, as it was popularly called, as a means of staying on the PGA Tour or getting there.

The pressure is “like playing the first hole of the Masters for four days,” PGA Tour veteran Robert Garrigus called it on Sunday, after holing a 10-foot par-saving putt on the 18th hole of the final round that helped keep him retain his PGA Tour exemption next season.

The Tiger-like fist pump shown here says it all:

The winner, for the record, was Emiliano Grillo, a 23-year-old Argentinian, who birdied the 18th hole to beat Chez Reavie by a shot. A dramatic finish, to be sure, but the greater drama often is further down the leaderboard, played out by those vying to earn PGA Tour membership. It isn’t always pretty.

“The pressure is unreal @WebDotComTour finals! Tough to watch,” PGA Tour member Colt Knost Tweeted.

Kevin Tway, son of former PGA Championship winner Bob Tway, looked to be headed back to the PGA Tour, where he has yet to make his own mark, when he produced the kind of finish that makes it tough to watch. And tougher to look away. Think train wreck.

Two shots on consecutive holes doomed him. One splashed down at the par-5 16th resulting in a penalty stroke and a bogey, the other plugged in a greenside bunker at 17, leading to another bogey. Tway tied for 12th in the tournament itself, but fell from the top 25 on the Tour money list that would have earned him a promotion.

Agony and ecstasy are often inextricably linked, as Eric Axley and Rob Oppenheimer demonstrated. Axley missed the cut. Oppenheimer, meanwhile, finished tied for 12th, allowing him to bump Axley and secure the 25th and final PGA Tour card by $101.

Tough to watch, indeed.