Insider: Fehr's career comes back to the courseRick Fehr (pictured in a 2005 Web.com Tour event), makes his Champions Tour debut this week in Hawaii.September 12, 2012
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
In six years as a player agent, Rick Fehr made significant discoveries about life and golf from another perspective.
Of all the insights he gained, none is more valuable than this for Fehr: "Playing golf for a living beats the other hands down."
Fehr is counting on that bit of knowledge to enhance his chances of being successful on the Champions Tour. He'll make his debut this week at the new Pacific Links Hawaii Championship at Kapolei Golf Course.
"I have a great appreciation for teeing it up and doing it that way," Fehr said as he prepared to launch the next phase of his playing career. "You hear it often from seniors, 'If I only knew then what I know now.' While I certainly haven't been a guy who played up to 50 -- I know that can be a disadvantage -- I have come back excited to play."
Fehr's focus on the Champions Tour didn't crystallize until early this year. While others may plan further ahead, Fehr was "kind of hanging on" to what his eligibility status might be as a multiple winner on the PGA TOUR.
"I've been monitoring over the past handful of years -- will I or will I not be eligible to play," he said. "So many friends of mine from the PGA TOUR days hung around, waited and waited to turn 50, without exempt status. They kind of had their lives on hold only to turn 50 and not have a chance to play.
"So without the determination that, yes, Rick, when you turn 50, you're going to get to play a significant number of events -- without hearing that -- I marched on with my life and other professional pursuits."
Once it began to look like Fehr would have solid access for the remainder of 2012 and the outlook for 2013 also promising, he started "sharpening my tool box."
Fehr began the transition to his career as a representative and agent in 2006 with Gaylord Sports Management. He was there for about 18 months before leaving to form his own group. The move to the representation side of things was came from the desire to stay involved in the golf business. His good friend, Loren Roberts, a major winner and mainstay on the Champions Tour, convinced Fehr to try his hand and became Fehr's first golf client.
"Loren talked me into it," Fehr said. "It's been a real privilege to manage Loren and help him out over the last four years or so. But it's been determined that I can't wear both hats."
For now, it's back to playing the game and, as Fehr said, that's not a bad thing at all.
A Seattle native, Fehr was a two-time All-American at Brigham Young University with a standout amateur record, which included victory at the 1982 Western Amateur. He was low amateur at the Masters and the U.S. Open in 1984, and later that year turned professional. He won twice on the PGA TOUR -- the 1985 B.C. Open and the 1994 Walt DisneyWorld/Oldsmobile Classic.
His best finish in a major championship came at the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills Country Club, where he played in the second-to-last group in each of the final two rounds on the Monster.
If absence from competitive golf made Fehr's heart grow fond, that may be because it gave Fehr time to think about all the lessons he has learned about his game and himself.
"As I reflect, I understand better what made me a good player," he said. "The quicksand I stepped into all too frequently -- the mechanical swing change minefield -- caused a lot of trouble. I'm more of a visual-feel-creative kind of guy. (But) I tried to fix down cycles mechanically.
"I believe there was more than one flash of brilliance in my playing career."
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At the top of that list, alongside his two PGA TOUR victories, would be that glorious week at Oakland Hills.
"Fabulous memories," Fehr said. "I was a guy without a PGA TOUR card playing in the U.S. Open and waiting until 2 or 2:30 p.m. on the weekend to play. It helped with my confidence."
Fehr opened with rounds of 69-67 and, with a 283 total, eventually tied U.S. Open champions Corey Pavin and Fuzzy Zoeller, along with Jack Renner, for ninth, behind winner Andy North. The performance paved the way for Fehr's PGA TOUR career.
"I earned temporary status, ended up playing 14 tournaments that year, top 150 on the Money List ($40,101 for No. 133), and it put me directly to q-school finals," he said. "That week at Oakland Hills vaulted me onto the PGA TOUR."
Fehr celebrated his 50th birthday on Aug. 28, narrowly missing the opportunity to make his Champions Tour debut in his hometown of Seattle at the Boeing Classic.
"That would have been nice but it's a little bit easier to do the maiden voyage away from home," he said.
"It appears I will be eligible not only for Hawaii but the three remaining weeks until the Charles Schwab Cup Championship -- both North Carolina events and San Antonio. It also looks good for 2013. It's important for someone in my position to have a full year. The goal is to be competitive with the best of them. I don't know if that's going to happen right away. I certainly hope to win at some point. Most guys out there feel the same way."
.hampions Tour Insider Vartan Kupelian is a freelance contributor for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. He can be reached at [email@example.com].