Jordan Holley: On the brink
By Jordan Holley
Jordan Holley is a mini-tour player pursuing his dream of earning a PGA Tour card. He graduated from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., where he was an NCAA All-American and a member of the Cleveland Golf Academic All-American First Team. He qualified for the U.S. Amateur in 2008, and since turning professional has played on the NGA Hooters and eGolf tours, as well as other minor league tours.
Pressure. I like to say I love it and I have tended to play my best golf under pressure. I am playing golf at this level for the feeling of having a chance to win or make that jump to the next level. It feels unlike anything I have ever felt in any other sport I played.
To quote Eminem's Grammy Award winning song Lose Yourself, “If you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted -- one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?"
I had an incredible chance to make my mark this week in the Monday qualifier for the Web.com Tour's Utah Championship. I drove 500 miles from Denver to Salt Lake City, got pulled over and cited for 70 in a 65, stopped at an incredible burger joint Pistol Pete's in Helper, Utah, booked a hotel and prepared for my chance. Once the round started, I spent the day telling myself this:
"I have found myself in plenty of situations like this and pulled it out! You are on today! This is your day!"
I was lying to myself about being in that position before, but I thought it was MY day. It marked only my third Tour qualifier in the last two years as my focus has been to maintain a living. At $350 a pop it has made more sense to play events where I have the chance to make money rather than risk the money in an effort to move my career to the next level. But for now, I knew this was where I needed to be.
Well, I birdied my first three holes out of the gate and turned in five-under 31. Birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 moved me to seven-under and well on my way to my first Tour event. I didn't tighten up and kept my foot on the gas pedal, executing one good shot after another. I missed a few good looks at birdie but was still bogey free as I headed to my 16th hole (I started on No. 10). I knew one more birdie would solidify my spot in the tourney. I hit a beautiful seven iron on the 208-yard par 3 with a slightly helping wind to about 25 feet below the hole. I hit my putt dead center in the heart of the hole, but about two feet short. Instead of finishing, I marked to ensure I didn't step in anyones line and as I'm sure you can tell, I missed the putt. It wasn't a nervous stroke, hit 90 percent of the hole but didn't fall. In hindsight, this was one of those moments I just needed to take a few extra seconds and regroup.
Although I ripped my next tee shot and hit the wedge to five feet, my mind was still reeling. I made a poor stroke and lipped it out again! Knowing I most likely needed a birdie on the last, I hit a massive tee ball and left myself only 115 yards to the final flag. I hit the wedge to 15 feet and actually got myself comfortable before facing the putt. Another solid stroke later, I watched in disgust as the putt just grazed the high side of the hole and finished two feet past. I tapped it in for 66 and began what would become a 6-plus hour waiting game.
Not sure what to do with myself, I drove around in circles just disgusted with my finish. I ended up at a movie, by myself, just trying to kill time. When it finished, I still had more than hours to kill. I went to a Barnes & Noble, grabbed a book about fly fishing, got a coffee, and settled in. I finally got word that we would most likely be headed to playoff. Driving back to the course, I was encouraged that even though I didn't finish a great round the way I should, I still might have a chance!
Upon returning to the course, the officials lined us up for what would end up being a 14 man playoff for two spots. They split us into two groups of seven by drawing cards and rattled off the brief rules. I drew the fourth spot and hit another beautiful drive on the eighth hole well past where I did in regulation. Facing an 80 yard pitch shot, I hit another good one to six feet and on the EXACT same line I had in regulation (my 17th hole). After only one birdie in our group, I faced another great chance to finally get where I feel I belong. I knew the putt would advance me to the next playoff hole and I felt completely at peace standing over it. t didn't even touch the hole this time as I pulled it harder than an Olympic sprinter pulls a hammy. It was tough to swallow.
Now I am entered into the Wyoming Open playing for $7,000 instead of a Web.com Tour event playing for $100,000. It's so dang close, I can taste it. This won't be my last hurrah, I'll be back next time (Omaha, Neb., first week of August) but man am I tired of telling you guys sob stories. I keep telling myself to just grind it out and put myself in these positions. I'll learn how to close like I KNOW I can.This will be my last story until one of three things happen:
No. 1. I find a sponsor who believes in what I can do and wants to help get me to the next level.
No. 2. I win again.
No. 3. I qualify for another Tour event (PGA Tour or Web.com Tour).
This is my motivation because I actually enjoy getting this stuff off my chest and I hope you all enjoy a little peek into the life of a (for now) mini-tour grinder. Thanks again for the support and feedback! Stay tuned!
You can follow Jordan on Twitter @J_Holley6under and GolfWRX @GolfWRX