HELP SPONSOR LOCAL PLAYER
By Bob Weiner
Like most pro golfers, Bryan Bigley plays mind games. These ultimate free agents are basically out on their own with very limited support systems. If they can’t convince themselves they are playing well – even if they really aren’t – they can’t make a living. Guys like Bigley scratch and claw for everything they get, and there isn’t much of a safety net without a sponsor.
“You tell yourself that you really aren’t playing that badly, even if the numbers suggest you are,” said the 33-year-old Schalmont High School and Siena College graduate and Hall of Famer. “Even a guy like Phil Mickelson usually says he’s playing pretty well, even if he’s only hitting a couple of fairways and shooting around par.”
With his career at stake, Bigley convinced himself there wasn’t any real pressure on him when he headed to the final stage of qualifying for the Web.com Tour last weekend. He went on to play some clutch golf and earn full playing privileges by finishing T30 at the Whirlwind Golf Club’s Devils Claw and The Cattail in Chandler, AZ.
Players like Bigley, who advanced to the final stage Q-school after two earlier stages, were assured of their Web.com Tour playing card for the 2018 season, but only the top-45 finishers and ties were guaranteed full playing privileges. Bigley shot -6 in the final round and finished at -15 for the four-day event. With a bunched-up leaderboard providing little room for error, he birdied the par-5 15th and 17th holes and then locked up full playing privileges with a solid par on the 18th hole.
“The courses that we played out there weren’t very difficult,” Bigley noted. “They had quite a few reachable par-5s. When you have a bunch of Web.com guys out there, you knew the scores would be very low. I figured if I just shot a couple of 67s on the weekend, I’d be OK, but it turned out the scores were even lower than I expected. I knew in the final round that I needed to be at least 14-under. After I got the birdie on #15, I was feeling pretty good, and I knew if I got another birdie on the 17th hole, I would be OK. That would take a lot of pressure off the 18th hole.”
It turned out exactly like Bigley thought, meaning a little less pressure. But he was well aware that he wasn’t the only player shooting low scores. “You had to stay in attack mode all the time,” Bigley said. “One stroke over 72 holes could be the difference between reaching my goal or not, and that’s exactly the way it turned out. It’s a lot different than amateur golf, when you think you are doing well if you are shooting around par.”
SHUFFLING THE DECK
Bigley is now assured of playing the first eight stops on the Web.com Tour, if he so chooses. “The way it works is that if you make the top 45 in qualifying, you get full membership. That means you can play in the first eight tournaments. After that, they shuffle the point list after every four tournaments. At least I know where and when I will be playing when the season starts. I plan on playing just about every tournament, although I might miss the first tournament in the Bahamas. I shot a pair of 90s last year there,” he said.
Bigley pointed out that he’s played most of the courses on the schedule and feels confident in his course knowledge. “We don’t have much time between tournaments this year. We start playing right after the first of the year,” he said. “I plan on coming back up to New York for a few days around the holidays, and then I’ll get ready to get back on tour.”
The 6’ 3”, 201-pounder has been a professional since 2008. He was 147th on the Web.com Tour money list in 2017 with $18,570 official money earned in 19 events. So far, he has $77,888 in career earnings and has also played on the eGolfTour and the Carolinas Pro Golf Tour. He’s played in the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship in both 2011 and 2012.
“When you are out on tour, you don’t root for other guys,” he said. “There are a few guys I hope do well, but most of the time, you are rooting for yourself. Nobody else out here is rooting for you to do well. It’s all up to you.”
IN NEED OF A SPONSOR
Bigley, who dabbles in insurance to help make ends meet, currently doesn’t have a sponsor. He’s hoping to pick up a few corporate sponsors, and he said he would gladly wear a corporate logo on his bag. “Every little bit helps,” he said.
Anyone wishing to help sponsor Bigley can reach out by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.