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Valspar Championship

Watch Wes Bryan make a miraculous recovery to keep hopes of saving tour card alive

March 19, 2022
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Cliff Hawkins

Prior to his career on the PGA Tour Wes Bryan was a trick-shot artist. He needed to tap into that former life Friday to get two more rounds at the Valspar Championship, and he could use a little more of it with 18 holes left to play on Sunday at Innisbrook Resort.

This week marks Bryan’s final start on a major medical exemption, and with two holes left during Friday's second round, Bryan found his drive on the par-3 eighth hole (his 17th on the day) in a bush. Already on the cutline number, the drive put him in a bad spot in the worst of ways.

But Bryan was able to make a miraculous rescue by choking down on an iron and getting the ball out of trouble, pitching his third to a couple feet and saving bogey, giving himself a chance on his final hole.

Bryan then took full advantage of the opportunity, his drive finding the fairway on the par-4 ninth, then his approach, from 133 yards out, coming to rest just three feet from the pin for a birdie. It was a even-par 71 for the day and a three-under 139 total, getting him to the weekend on the number.

It’s been a strange and frustrating journey for Bryan. In 2016 he became just the 11th player to earn the “battlefield promotion” with three wins on the then-Web.com Tour and captured the RBC Heritage in April 2017. But in 62 tour starts since his triumph at Harbour Town Bryan has just one top-10 finish. He’s dealt with injuries and a spell of the driving yips and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2017.

As this week marks his final appearance on a medical exemption, Bryan needs to finish at least solo 51st come Sunday to retain conditional status on tour, with a finish of sixth or better giving him full playing privileges. He started Round 3 at the Valspar six shots behind that sixth-place barrier, but as his Friday finish showed, Bryan is still capable of making some magic. A third-round 70 on Saturday left him tied for 49th place. However, that tie was with 12 other golfers. If that was where he ended up after the conclusion of the tournament, he'd only get six FedEx Cup points when he needed 7.779.

In other words, there's some work still to do on Sunday.