You had an amazing college career, prior to going into pro golf did you understand what it was like or did you think it would be an easy transition?
Yeah, every hot shot coming out of college thinks it is going to be an easy next step to the tour. I got off to a great start. My first pro event was the BC Open and I finished 18th. I think that is still my best PGA finish. It’s hard for me to admit that almost 19 years later. But yeah, I think we all think that this is going to be easy, you know I had been a really good player my whole life and this was just going to be the next step. And here I am almost 19 years later and still wondering when the easy part comes.
Is there a single moment that sticks with you that made you realize this is harder than you thought, or is it just a gradual process?
For me its just over time, I mean I think it was my 11th or 12th try at Q school to get my card. Prior to that I had varying levels of success, I had won some events on the Asian Tour, and had nice finishes over there. I also almost won the Dunhill Links in 2006. So, I had some success but when I got to the biggest stage, I haven’t been able to stick. I didn’t have one Ah-Ha moment, I’ve had 19 years of Ah-Ha moments. Man, this is really hard profession. I think there is really three types of people in pro golf, there is those like Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Charles Howell, Charles was my roommate in college and one of my best friends, and guys like that just figure it out and they stick. Then there are guys that go out there and figure out real quick they aren’t good enough and they do something else. Then there are guys like me, that have varying levels of success, are more stubborn than others, and deep down believe they can do it, which is where I am at with my journey.
With your success in Asia was there any thought of staying there or going back there at any point or with a family was it best to stay here?
I got married the last year I was playing there, but what happened was I got my web card at the end of 2006, so that’s the real reason I stopped playing over there. I finally got to play over here. Maybe looking back maybe I should have kept playing over there, but you’re never going to give up a chance to get onto the PGA Tour. You know I played over there for almost 5 years and I enjoyed every moment of it. I’ve encouraged a lot of guys to go try it. At the end of the day it comes down to a numbers game and especially if you want to play over here. Fact is there is not enough jobs and too many good players. What does it come down to, I have averaged out the PGA Tour has about 25 years’ worth of guys and 125 are guys going to keep their job, and it averages out to about 5 guys a year, in the world. I mean you gotta be pretty dumb to play pro golf if you look at it that way.
A lot of people may have heard the story, but for those who haven’t could you retell getting paid in cash at the Korean Open?
So, it was ’04 I didn’t like the Korean lunches, it was a bunch of soups and stuff, we stayed in the tourist section of Seoul, so we always used to go get Subway. So, I really had my Subway sandwich bag in my golf bag, so after the round we are all hanging around drinking beer and they literally brought out a cash counter with a suitcase of cash. I literally went back to my hotel with 74,000 in cash in a Subway bag. If anyone was thinking they would have robbed the bus, there was a bunch of us on the bus with an hour and half ride back to the hotel. There was a bunch of cash on that bus. I wired it home first thing in the morning.
Your tweet at the end of last year was something to the effect of “get better or get gone” does that come with a timeline or do you try not to put a timeline on it?
In a perfect world I don’t think there is a timeline, but I live in the real world and I live in the real world with a wife and 3 kids. You know bills to pay and lives to live. For me I don’t want to put a time line on it and say if I don’t get my card this year I’m done. But it’s getting to that point. I mean I have been a pro 19 years in June, how long do I give it? Do I wanna keep going? I definitely want to keep going, but at same time I don’t want to totally miss out on life. But on the other hand, 5-6 years ago I was playing e-golf with Scott Parel and that guy made 2 million dollars last year. Its one of those things, can you hang on long enough, can you justify it to yourself and to your family, and when you get that opportunity how good can you be.
Are you a player that goes into a year with written goals or, as long as you feel like you are getting better regardless of results, you keep going?
I mean your number one goal when you’re on the web is obviously to get to the big tour. Doesn’t matter how you do it. I mean I can pretty much boil down last year to less than 5 shots that had I pulled them off I would have my tour card, just the way it affected the round. So, for me to look at it that way, of course I am going to keep trying and I have gotten better. As far as this year goes, I’ve worked on my health, lost about 20 pounds. I started off the year last year really well and second half wasn’t very good. I thought what do I need to do better and that was part of it.
How many times have you had serious discussions about stopping?
My wife and I have definitely had those discussions, but she is never going to be the one to say, “you have to quit” But really it comes down to reality, we all want to chase our dreams. My goal has been to be a pro golfer ever since I was probably 12. You know I was lucky I had saved a little bit of money I had a little bit of money to play on, but I’ve run through all that now. But I’m just hanging on trying to cash the big check. But back in ’17 was probably the closest I’ve come to stopping.
When you went back to APT Tour after having success oversees and having your card here, what do you have to mentally to get ready for a season on a mini tour?
I mean you talk about a dose of reality. It took me a long time to get to the (PGA) tour and the steps I had taken to get there. I mean I had played everywhere, I think my count is 28 countries and 9 different tours, so I’m not one of those guys that it was a shock to my system. I went from 4th on the web in ’13 to no status really after my year on tour in ’14. I just took it as a chance to look at my game and say what do I need to get better at. Those couple of years were really about proving to myself that hey I’m improving, I’m getting my game back so I can feel like I can keep doing this. I have had so many doses of reality, both good and bad. I had a meltdown at Q school in 2012, so there is not a lot that is going to phase me because I’ve pretty much been through everything. I mean there is guys that used to be number one in the world that don’t play anymore. So, I looked and said my situation isn’t that bad, I can still break 80.
Is being on the road and away from your family harder now as your kids have gotten older or is it just as hard as its always been?
I definitely think its harder now, they are doing more stuff now, so your missing more. They realize how long you are gone. You know my wife is coaching basketball and I am kind of the assistant when I am there. I got to go to the game last week, but I’ll get to go to like 3 of 10 games or something like that. My daughter is doing gymnastics. As your kids get older and they start doing the things you did as a kid, that’s when the travel and being away becomes more of a burden. You know the weeks you’re playing well and in contention its fine, your concentrating on that. It’s the weeks when you’re not playing well and missing cuts. You’re like I’m just out here pissing away money and my kids are growing up and the wife is looking at the checkbook, its just part of it unfortunately.
What are you most proud of in your career? Is that you held status on a major tour for most of your 19-year career?
Yeah, I think that’s pretty cool. The more I get into it and the older I get I realize how truly great everyone is out here. To even make it to the PGA Tour once, I mean you’re a top 1% of the 1%. You know the friendships I’ve made, the way I have treated people, the nice things people have said about me. That means the most, the relationships I’ve made. I read Kyle’s interview you did and people he has met in pro-ams and I have been able to do that and the people I have stayed with for 10 years at these events. I mean its kind of a traveling circus out here, but I have been happy with my career and I think I can still accomplish more. But the way I have handled myself as a pro is the what I am most proud of.
As you get older and you become more reflective, when you look back are you proud of your career?
You know that’s a good question, honestly no, I thought I would have done a lot better by now. You know I’ve done some cool stuff. To play in as many countries as I have, to win national opens but I would have thought I would have done more on the PGA Tour by now. I still feel like I’m really good, I mean look at Vijay Singh he did a bunch of damage in his 40’s, or Kenny Perry, guys like that.
I asked Kyle so I’ll ask you, if you had the same exact career would you do it all over again?
I mean its been way more than a grind that I thought it would, but I am really appreciative of the things I have seen and the places I have been.