As Bryan Bigley prepares for the second stage of qualifying school to continue playing on the Web.com Tour, he remains fully confident in his abilities. He has no choice. Playing professional golf is what he does for a living.
The 32-year-old graduate of Schalmont High School and Siena College has been a professional since 2008. In order to keep his job, he must advance through the second stage, which starts Tuesday and continues through Friday in Plantation, FL, and then move on to the final stage. The top-70 players at the final qualifying stage earn conditional playing status, while the top-40 get receive full-time playing privileges.
“There are a number of us in our early 30s out here on the Web.com tour,” Bigley said. “We have played professionally in Latin America or in Canada. Remember, this isn’t the PGA Tour, where you are staying in $300 a night hotel rooms and driving around in courtesy cars. We have to manage our careers every day. When we step onto the tee, we have to know what we are doing, and I think that experience helps guys like me.”
LOOKING FOR A SPONSOR
Bigley, who doesn’t have a sponsor and is completely out on his own, was 147th on the Web.com money list last year with $18,570. Unable to secure a top-10 finish, he did T23 at the Price Cutter Charity Championship. Bigley was T40 at the Air Capital Classic supporting Wichita’s Youth. He made eight cuts in 19 events. His scoring average was 71.79.
“Although my numbers don’t necessarily show it, I thought I played pretty well last year,” Bigley said. “I was just a half-shot off every round. I’m still very confident. You have to be out here. I’m playing pretty well right now. I scored very well in the first stage of qualifying, and I’ve done well here in Plantation before. I got through a stage of qualifying here once, and I just missed by one stroke two years ago. This course fits my eye.”
In Bigley’s opinion, a player’s confidence level mostly comes from the way he hits his driver and rolls his putts. Right now, the 6’ 3”, 201 lb. man feels he has control in both departments.
“I’ve got to think positively,” he said. “I don’t want to think about what will happen if I don’t retain my card, but I’ll deal with it if that happens. I can always do something else.”
If Bigley doesn’t keep his playing privileges on the Web.com tour, he may opt to play somewhere else. One thing he doubts he will ever do is try to become a club professional.
“You never say never in this business, but I’m 99 % sure I wouldn’t try to become a club pro,” he said. “There is too much work involved, and you don’t make enough money.”
This past season, Bigley averaged 293.1 yards off the tee and hit fairways at a 63.7 % clip. He reached 67.5 % of the greens in regulation and had a putting average of 1.79.
In 2016, Bigley had two top-10 finishes and made 10 cuts, finishing with $59,318 in earnings. Previously, he spent the 2015 season on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, where he had exempt status by virtue of finishing in the Order of Merit top 60. Before that, he played on both the eGolfTour and the Carolinas Pro Golf Tour. Bigley competed in the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship in both 2011 and 2012. He still considers those two appearances his biggest thrills in golf.
“It is what it is,” Bigley said about his future. The next few days will determine what he does next year. “We don’t look at pressure the same way,” he said. “I’m not thinking about what this will mean to my future. Professional golfers are used to pressure situations.”