For players with less lofty goals, the Nitro Senior Series provides an alternative that's almost sinfully comfortable compared to the hair shirt that is Monday qualifying. This year, the Series evolved into a tour of 20 events with fields of 144 players and purses of $105,000. The tour gives unsuccessful Monday qualifiers a place to play the rest of the week. Best of all, the tournaments are held on Thursday through Saturday, which provides a travel day for anyone who wants to get to the next Monday qualifier. If the tour remains financially viable, it could become the senior version of the Nike tour.
That's not good enough for a player like Lytle. When he got home from Palos Verdes, he found his home flooded by a leaky washing machine that probably had been spraying water for the 2½ months he had been gone. "Everything was rusty," Lytle says. "Just having to clean up that mess, thinking about how much I missed my kids and wanting to save my marriage, I started thinking that I can do better than this. For too many years I was too satisfied with winning mini-tour events and just getting by financially. All I've known is pressure, to the point where it's not pressure anymore. I'm not scared. I know I'm good enough. Why not aim for the top? I'm 53.1 have to do something now."
With this new perspective, Lytle paid $2,000 to enter last week's first stage of the Senior Q school in Escondido, Calif. He advanced to Ponte Vedra Beach, and if he finishes among the top eight there, he'll have many thoughts. The first one will be, Goodbye, Mondays.