Bryan goes from 'couch' to 3-win promotion in a year
South Carolina alum wins Digital Ally Open to earn instant advancement to PGA TOUR
August 08, 2016
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- Wesley Bryan won at LionsGate with his father George and wife Elizabeth in attendance. (Mark Higgins/Contributed Photo)
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Wesley Bryan was having his own quarter-life crisis.
It was July 2015, and Bryan was, as he described it, “sitting on the couch, not doing much of anything.” He was 25 years old, three years removed from an All-American career at the University of South Carolina, but found himself toiling on mini-tours. He had yet to play a single PGA TOUR or Web.com Tour event. From the sofa, he was watching friends succeed on high levels.
Thanks to some savvy marketing, and the help of college friend Joe Gilliland, Bryan was getting by financially with the success of Bryan Bros Golf, a YouTube-driven trick shot series with his brother George. But his 15-year-running dream of playing the PGA TOUR? It seemed far, far away.
“I was playing mediocre golf on the mini-tours, traveling with my brother doing trick shots on the road, and not being able to devote as much time as I would like to traveling and playing in tournaments,” Bryan remembers. “At the time, I knew it was help paying bills and kind of what I needed to do to make sure food was staying on the table for my wife when she was in school.”
Doing whatever needed to be done to make ends meet, the M.O. of a mini-tour player.
Fast forward to Sunday, and things couldn’t be much different.
Bryan entered the final round of the Digital Ally Open with a one-stroke lead, and considering he led the money list and was already a two-time winner in 2016, he was a clear favorite. At stake was a three-win promotion, which would provide Bryan entry into the final two events of the PGA TOUR season with a chance of playing his way into the FedExCup Playoffs.
So he did what he has done throughout the season, shooting a smooth 4-under 67 to earn a spot in a playoff with J.T. Poston and Grayson Murray, then winning with a birdie on the second extra hole, the par-3 17th, where he hit a 6-iron to 3 feet in what he described afterward as the shot of his life.
Wesley Bryan interview after winning playoff at Digital Ally Open
If it seems like a far cry from sitting on the couch last summer, well, it is. Bryan is rapidly becoming known more for his golf than for trick shots, just like he always wanted, and he’ll have two events this month – and a full 2016-17 TOUR season – to test his game against the world’s best.
The quarter-life crisis spurred a plan into action, and he has made the most of it. One day last July, he gave George and Joe a call, informing them that he wanted to start declining trick-shot opportunities in order to prepare for Q-School.
It meant less time experimenting with trick shots, more time working on technique. He showed up at First Stage a more confident player, and he wholeheartedly believed that he deserved to advance to the Web.com Tour.
He advanced through First Stage, then Second Stage, then Final Stage to earn his card for the first time.
Bryan’s 2016 Web.com Tour season has been quite a ride, and he’s made sure to have as much fun as possible along the way. He’s embraced the unique grind of life on Tour: enjoying time with fans who approach for autographs and pictures, documenting his fast-food selections like Taco Bell and Dunkin’ Donuts on social media, and most notably testing out a variety of caddies.
Bryan employed his 12th caddie of the season in Kansas City. The stable has included a variety of characters, including:
• His brother George, who was on the bag for his maiden victory at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open.
• Callaway Golf’s social media manager Chad Coleman, who led Bryan to a victory at the El Bosque Mexico Championship.
• Kansas City Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop, who looped for a top-10 finish at the Nashville Golf Open.
By all accounts, Bryan gets along with pretty much everyone, and he has an uncanny ability to maintain a positive frame of mind regardless of what happens – while embracing the wacky adventures that are part of life on Tour.
It’s a recipe for success, and it has led Bryan from mini-tours to the PGA TOUR in less than a year.
Or, should we say, from the couch to the TOUR.
“If you had flashed back nine months ago and told me I was going to be in this position, there is no chance I was going to believe you,” Bryan said. “Wins are hard to come by.
12th caddie of the year. Third win. Quite a ride for Wesley Bryan. pic.twitter.com/XJQMGZk3D8— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 7, 2016
“Fast forward, here we are now … it’s hard to see how far things have progressed in the last nine months, given I was sitting in my house with no status anywhere, going to Q-School.
“One win is just crazy to think about, two is crazier. And now that I’ve won three times and got the promotion … coming into this year, that was not even in the realm of what I thought could be accomplished.”
He’s not sure how things will pan out on the PGA TOUR, but he’s excited to continue the ride. At the very least, his post-victory plans were in order.
“I’m going to Taco Bell.”
Wesley Bryan wins after two-hole playoff at the Digital Ally Open