“Bigs” still knows how to make a flock of birdies under pressure. That’s why the 32-year-old veteran touring pro moved a major step closer to securing his Web.com Tour card once again last week.
Bryan Bigley was T5 at the second stage of qualifying for the Web.com Tour by shooting a four-day total of 273 (-11) at the Plantation Preserve Golf Course & Club in Plantation, FL. After a 73 (+2) in the first round, the Schalmont High School and Siena College graduate clicked his game into gear, posting middle rounds of 66 (-5) and 64 (-7) to move toward the top of the standings and take the pressure off his final round, when he shot a 70 (-1) to easily advance to the final stage of qualifying.
Bigley, born in Rotterdam, now lives in Charlotte, NC. He will head to the final stage of qualifying, set to begin Dec. 7 in Phoenix, AZ.
“It was a tough start last week. Knowing the course the way I do, I figured it would take maybe -12 to advance,” he said. “I missed just about all the putts you need to make. So after the round, I worked on some things, and I came back the next day ready to play. Although I had an early bogey in the second round I got on one of those grooves, and I made a bunch of birdies. I think over the next two rounds, I made something like 14 birdies over the next 30 holes. It was really a great run.”
BIGLY STILL ROLLS BIRDIES
Bigley, a pro since 2008, finished only 147th on the Web.com Tour money list last season with $18,570, but he proved once again last week that he can still roll in plenty of birdies when he needs to. He averaged 3.4 birdies a round this past season.
“That 66 in the second round put me back in it, and then that -7 the next round was really great. It took a lot of the pressure off that final round,” Bigley said. “I knew I was already inside the cut line. All I had to do was shoot around par, or a little bit under, and I would be pretty safe to advance. My final round was just a casual round. I just made sure to stay out of any big trouble.”
Bigley said he wasn’t surprised that he came through under pressure. “A few years ago, I needed to shoot -4 to advance in the final round, and I did,” he said. “My game has gotten better. I’m a better player than I was a few years ago. Like I told you before, I really believe that I played pretty well this year, even though I didn’t get the results I was hoping for. If you don’t know me, and you looked at my results, you would probably be surprised with how I played last week, but this doesn’t surprise me at all. The results show I was having maybe a bad year, but I truly felt I was playing OK.”
Bigley’s work to keep his card on the feeder system to the PGA Tour is not finished by a long shot.
“I still need to finish in either the top 40 or the top-45 to earn full status on the Web.com Tour,” he said. “If I finish 85th or 90th, I probably won’t get any starts. If you have a card and can’t get into any tournaments, it doesn’t help you one bit.”
Bigley said he knows absolutely nothing about the two courses he will play on in Phoenix. “To my knowledge, they’ve never had a final stage of qualifying there. I don’t know what the courses are like,” he said. “Some of the guys from Arizona might know those courses, but most of us won’t. Still, throughout the years, especially in all those events I played in Latin America, you were playing a different course every week on different types of grasses that I didn’t know. You get to know the course in a practice round, and then you figure out the course as you play. If you are playing well, it doesn’t matter how much you know about the course. A lack of course knowledge only hurts you if you’re not playing well.”
COSTS CAN ADD UP
Bigley still doesn’t have a sponsor to help defray his costs. He sells life insurance on the side to make ends meet.
“A couple of friends of mine have helped me with Q-school,” he explained. “Going to Q-school costs close to $12,000 to $13,000 for all the stages. Right now, I’m in for about $9,000 so far. I’m just hoping to get lucky. A buddy of mine might caddie for me out in Phoenix, and that would be a big help. It usually costs you about $1,000 a week for a caddie. My father called me a while ago and asked me if I was still using the same caddie I was using before. I told him I was, and my shoulders still hurt. I’ve been looping myself for most of my qualifying stages so far.
“There are a lot of different levels of golfers out here,” Bigley said. “Golf is one of those jobs that everyone thinks is glamorous, but unless you are out on the PGA Tour it’s no better than a 9-to-5 job. The circumstances of a lot of the players out here are different. Some of the younger guys are tired of being poor, or they have a family, and they decide to give it up. I’ve been lucky. I can still live frugally and make a living out here.”
Bigley said he will prepare all facets of his game and then hope for the best.
“It’s up to the golf gods,” he said about the final stage and his future on the Web.com Tour. “Some days you’ve got it, and some days you don’t.”