SI Vault
Jim Simons
March 19, 1973
To a professional golfer, a players' card is a passport to the tour. Without it he is not eligible to compete, at least not regularly. Even with a card he is not necessarily in, for he must still qualify for a starting spot in any given event. But if he has no card, that 3¾-inch by 2½-inch piece of pasteboard stating that he is eligible to play in the tournaments of the Professional Golfers' Association, he does not even have the right to try to qualify.
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March 19, 1973

My Ticket To The Tour

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Now I'm in a solid position. I had another 70 and I'm tied for sixth. I can shoot a pair of 75s in the last two rounds and probably still qualify, and that might be pessimistic. I'm at four over par and it looks like 12 or 13 over will qualify. I'm feeling so good that I might even eat in the clubhouse tonight. The prices are kind of high there, and most of us have been wearing out a steakhouse in Napa which is offering a 30% discount to the golfers.

Something happened to Larry Stubblefield today that got me thinking. He went to pull a gallery stake out of the ground and felt a pop in his shoulder. At the time he didn't think he could continue with the round, but he went ahead and found that the shoulder did not hurt when he swung a club, only when he was picking up or lifting something, like his golf bag. It would have been terrible if Stubby had been forced to withdraw while he was leading the tournament. The incident pointed out how precarious everyone feels this week. You could smash your hand in a car door, or get the flu, or twist an ankle; almost anything could happen to you, and it would mean sitting out a whole year, or it might mean the end of your career. A guy's confidence could really be shaken if he failed this week, and surely the year's layoff from top competition would hurt because he could not go back to playing the amateur tour. He would have to play in any small professional tournaments he could find. A good example of this is Bruce Fleisher. Everyone thought he would be a big star when he won the 1968 U.S. Amateur, but he failed to qualify in the PGA school, sat out a year and never really has gotten started. Of course, you could say that about a lot of young players. I looked at the PGA money list recently, and the only two rookies in the top 60 were Lanny Wadkins and John Mahaffey.

The game is such a mental exercise. Mentally I was not ready for the first two rounds, especially the second. It was the same sort of thing when I played in the Westchester tournament on the tour this past August. I shot 69-66 in the first two rounds and then I was paired with Nicklaus in the third round. I'm a deliberate player and so is he, and all day I felt as if I was hurrying so that I wouldn't be in Jack's way; I shot a 79, and even though I came back with a 72 on Sunday and won $1,083 it was a real disappointment to me. But all of this is part of gaining experience. The secret is to gain the experience while still making a living.

Even with his bad shoulder Stubby shot a 72 and is tied for first place after 72 holes with Regalado, seven ahead of me. There is some prize money involved, although not much. The PGA is offering $300 to the low player and the next nine places get something, too, and Munsingwear has put up a total of $3,000, with $1,000 going to the winner. But Stubby can have the money. I'll settle for my players' card.

Friday, Nov. 3

This was one of the least enjoyable rounds I have ever played. It rained from the fourth hole on, anywhere from a drizzle to a downpour. I really wanted to have a good score so that I'd be in a position to coast in the last round tomorrow. I shot a 73, but it was hard going. I played poorly on the first nine, and no wonder. I took off my sweater at the turn and it felt as if it weighed 10 pounds! It was water-soaked. I played in a wind-breaker on the back side, felt a lot freer and had a string of four straight threes, which helped a lot.

Surprisingly, there were lots of good scores today. Considering the weather, you would have thought that 75 would have been a good round, but it turned out that 75 lost ground to the field. I stayed in sixth place with my 73, so if I shoot 80 tomorrow I still will make it. Now I admit I'm starting to think about the prize money. I'm five strokes back of first place and Stubblefield.

A lot of guys eliminated themselves today. A few already had withdrawn and I guess a couple more won't show at the first tee tomorrow. My good friend Eddie Pearce is not going to qualify, and it is a real shame. He dropped out of school to play the pro tour, and now he will have to wait another year, although I think most people agree he is ready to play. He had a 76 today and is tied for 55th. My roommate, Denny Satyshur, had a 79 and appears to be out of the running now. Tom Kite had a 74 and needs a fairly good round tomorrow to make it. I think he'll do it. He is a real competitor.

Saturday, Nov. 4

I saved my best for last. I hit all 18 greens, shot an easy 71, finished tied for third place at 436 total, called my parents and signed on with Ed Barner as my business manager on the pro tour. Quite a day.

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