A Golf Tournament inevitably reduces to names and numbers. The PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, held last week at the PGA West resort in La Quinta, Calif., had 163 golfers playing six rounds on two courses in hopes of winning one of 35 available berths on the 2003 Tour. (The rest of the players would be relegated to the Nationwide tour.) By Monday evening, when medalist Jeff Brehaut pocketed $50,000 for his six-round total of 16-under-par 416, you had to have the powers of Kreskin to glimpse the real human beings behind the blizzard of agate type. What follows, therefore, is a fleeting look behind those dry tabulations.
2003 STATUS: Nationwide tour
Broadaway, the cross-handed golfer from Albany, Ga., isn't really ambidextrous. "He's amphibious," deadpans his father, Tommy. Whatever you call it, Broadaway, 24, is an anomaly. He writes, eats and fires a rifle righthanded, but he swings a baseball bat from the left side. He swings a golf club from the right side but putts lefty. In high school he was a lefthanded second baseman. "Everybody would snicker," says his mother, Sylvia, "until he turned a double play."
These days the snickering begins when Broadaway takes a toddler's grip on a club, and it ends when he rips an iron 220 yards over water to a tucked pin. Coming off a successful year on the Hooters tour, the former Troy ( Ala.) State golfer turned lots of heads at Q school. "I just saw the cross-handed guy," said one PGA Tour veteran. "He's unbelievable."
Not to mention intractable. Broadaway's maternal grandfather, Bill Tanner, tried to get little boy Josh to hold the club conventionally, but the kid gripped lefty and swung righty. (Josh's father, a second-generation homebuilder, says, "I wasn't going to buy a three-year-old a set of lefthanded golf clubs.") Years later Josh's coach at Troy State thought the unorthodox grip placed too much stress on the wrists, but he, too, let Josh have his way. Charlie Owens, the African-American pro who won two Senior tour events playing cross-handed, says, "I've seen the kid on TV, and he has a beautiful swing."
Broadaway is a bright-eyed youngster with blond bangs, and at PGA West he cheerfully answered every question about his grip. But he conceded that repetition sometimes makes his spiel sound rehearsed, saying, "I usually go with, 'I've been doing it since I was five, and it feels natural to me.' " As for the so-called hyper-pressure of Q school, Broadaway dismissed it with a grin. "You can shoot a hundred here, and you've still got a place to play next year. I'm just freewheeling."
2003 STATUS: PGA Tour (Conditional)
When Chamblee made a double bogey on his second hole of the first round, he tried to cheer himself up with this comforting thought: Only 106 holes left. "They should call it purgatory, not Tour school," he said later, speaking for all 72 of the PGA Tour veterans in the field.
For Chamblee, who turned 40 in July, the entire year has felt like a wait in Satan's anteroom with nothing to read but back issues of Rosie. He opened 2002 with a 63 on his way to a sixth-place tie at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. After that, his game slid south. In 30 events he missed 17 cuts and cracked the top 25 only five times. By season's end, he had dropped to 146th on the money list and lost his exempt status.
"I've managed to keep my sanity," Chamblee said in La Quinta. "I try to find the humor in everything." As an example he cited the 20-foot chip shot from gnarly greenside rough he had attempted at the Reno-Tahoe Open in August. Stabbing sharply down on the ball to make it pop up softly and trickle down to the hole, Chamblee watched in disbelief as his ball hopped eight feet backward. "A friend told me it was the golf gods. He said sometimes you have to say, 'That's enough, golf gods, mess with somebody else next time.' "