Consider, then, the plight of Rives McBee. He plays golf with a gambler's flair, cutting corners and hammering the ball right at the flagstick because he has to; he is a very short hitter.
"I know there are a whole bunch of guys on the tour right now that I could beat eight days a week," he said at mid-tournament. "But this course is just too long for me. It's a wood or a long iron to every hole. If they're going to hold a qualifying event at all, why don't they round everyone up and bring 'em all in? I'll guarantee you there are guys winning good money out there who'd have a hard time shooting 75 here."
McBee, too, had a hard time shooting 75. Cold, hungry, wet and angry, he shot 81 during a 7-inch deluge on the second day. He was caught in the rain again late on the fifth day and after 90 holes was four shots out of the 30th position.
Fearful now that he was blowing his last chance to become a touring pre—a career he refers to as the ambition of his life—he began to attack the course. A par 72 moved him to within a shot of the select group.
The last day called for 36 holes, and on the morning round McBee shot a fine 69. This put him five strokes ahead of the cutoff pace, with just 18 holes to play.
"I thought it would be easy, that I'd play a nice, safe commercial round," says McBee. "Then I started choking, just like everybody else."
Instead of hitting the middle of the greens, McBee hit the middle of the bunkers. By the time he reached the final tee, he was six over. He was told he needed to birdie this 457-yard par 4 to make it, and with the wind in his face he really had little hope. He hooked his drive into a trap, topped the ball out, was wide of the green with his next shot, chipped on, missed a 3�-foot putt for a double-bogey 6 and prepared to spend the rest of his life giving lessons in Midland, Texas. But when he got to the scoreboard he found the pressure had hit others as well. His 603 was good enough to tie for 30th, and he was in.
"It was a sloppy way to wind up," he said later. "I finished 31 shots back of Toscano, but my ATP card is the same color as his. Some people are going to be surprised when I get out on the tour. You can't judge by what went on in that tryout school. We were under the kind of pressure no one will ever be able to appreciate unless he goes through it. It wasn't just for a check, it was for a year of our lives. Maybe more."