Athens, GA (April 12, 2009) - It is very quiet and peaceful this Sunday evening at Jennings Mill Country Club in Athens, GA. The Nationwide Tour has finished setting up the electronic scoreboards for this coming week's Athens Regional Foundation Classic. Everyone has gone home to watch the end of The Masters. Everyone except this writer and a lone figure on the driving range.
At the same time that Kenny Perry was losing a playoff to Angel Cabrera in Augusta, Jennings Mill Assistant Pro Seth McCain is hitting balls on the driving range, driving a cart out to retrieve his balls. He then returns to the tee to hit them again. The young McCain is not doing this for fun. He is doing it because he has an early day tomorrow. At 8:10 AM. he is scheduled to tee off with 164 other golfers vying for one of 14 open qualifying spots in this week's event.
practice swings before tomorrow's open qualifier for this week's
Athens Regional Foundation Classic on the Nationwide Tour.
Photograph Copyright 2009 by Eye on Sports Media/
The Cayuga Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
In looking at the field for tomorrows qualifier, a couple of names jumped out as older veterans from the PGA Tour. The first, Dick Mast, turned professional in 1971. He had good years on the PGA Tour in the mid-1980's, and has had a very successful career on the Nationwide and Champions Tours, with $3,216,534 in career earnings. He has won four times on the Nationwide Tour. But that was then and this is now. Going on the assumption that this is the same Dick Mast, he has only earned $1,386 this year on the Champions Tour this year, and $38,536 last year.
Dave Rummels played full and part time on the PGA Tour between 1986 and 1998, and has won twice on the Nationwide Tour. He has won over $1.9 million on the PGA Tour. But like Mast, times have changed for Rummells. He has only won $178,238 on the three tours since 1998 (about $16,000 a year), and has won nothing this year.
But there are also young players who are also very hungry and hedging their bets tomorrow. Seven players listed as alternates for this week's event are attempting to get in through the qualifying event. Two of the players, Gary Christian from Alabama and Scott Gardiner from Australia, will play in the same threesome tomorrow morning.
If the Nationwide Tour is the AAA minor league system for the PGA Tour, open qualifiers like this are the opportunity for young players to work their way in, and for fading players like Mast and Rummells to keep their golfing careers afloat.
Update (Monday, Apr 13, 2009) - Late night and early morning storms have forced postponement of qualifying until Tuesday, April 14, 2009.
Seth McCain's PGA Profile
Dick Mast's PGA Tour Profile
Dave Rummell's PGA Tour Profile