PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
Dudley Hart trying to squeeze into playoffs on Wildcard Weekend
October 10, 2018
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- October 10, 2018
- Hart currently ranks 89th on the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
Dudley Hart knows all about Wildcard Weekend. After all, his favorite NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, played on Wildcard Weekend in January after ending its 18-year playoff drought.
But this is Wildcard Weekend on PGA TOUR Champions, and Hart is looking to end his rookie season with a similar bang.
Hart has played in only six events since turning 50 on Aug. 4, and he has yet to record a top 10. But a top 10 at this week’s SAS Championship in Cary, North Carolina, would give him – or any of the other 19 competitors in the SAS field not already in the top 72 in the Schwab Cup rankings – entry into the first playoff event, the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Virginia.
Hart is 89th in the rankings, with his best finish a T19 at the Boeing Classic. His best round was a 66 in the first round of the Sanford International in South Dakota, which left him in a tie for 13th. But a few holes into his second round the New York native – thus the Buffalo fandom – felt something go wrong.
“I’ve been battling a bad back for a while,” Hart said. “I’ve had two spinal fusion surgeries. I was rolling along without too many issues and I hit one tee shot in South Dakota and just caught a stabbing thing in my back. Every swing after that it was doing same thing for about five holes.
“I might have messed it up. I might have a bulging disc, but I haven’t had it looked at and I don’t want to until after the year. I’m going to manage it.”
Hart said the therapist who works in the PGA TOUR Champions fitness trailer got him to where he could play in the PURE Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach the week after the Sanford International. He didn’t practice or play much before arriving in California for the event.
But he is feeling well enough to practice this week at Prestonwood Country Club. He played a practice round on Tuesday and said he believed he could get through the week.
“I don’t anticipate any issues because I’ve practiced the last few days,” Hart said. “I’m not gonna go crazy. I’d say I’m on a little bit of a pitch count. We don’t hit balls for three hours at a clip anymore. I feel pretty good, knock on wood.”
Hart obviously was excited about his first round in South Dakota, so withdrawing there after a good start was definitely a letdown.
“That’s that nature of the beast sometimes. That’s golf,” Hart said. “It was bad timing to say the least, but there’s never a good time for your back to flare up.
“I was bumming for a couple of days. I’ve had a lot of bumps in the road. But I try to keep things in perspective. It’s not something a lot worse.”
Hart, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, was born in Rochester, New York. But his family moved to Miami Beach when he started high school because his dad, a golf pro, took a job there.
When it came time for Hart to go to college, he made a few recruiting trips but fell in love with the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he said his dad also had attended “about a hundred years ago.”
Hart mentioned it had been a great week to be a Bills/Gators fan. The Bills upset the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, after Florida had stunned No. 5 LSU in The Swamp on Saturday with Hart in attendance.
“My voice is still a little hoarse,” Hart said. “I had a flashback to when I was in college, yelling and screaming like I did.”
Hart would love nothing more than to keep the mojo going.
“If I can take what the Gators and Bills did and roll that into this weekend that would be a hell of a week.”
The third-annual Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs begin next week, and Wildcard Weekend at the SAS Championship offers another opportunity for players to earn one of the 72 Playoff berths. Should a player post a top-10 finish this week but finish the regular season outside the top-72 on the Charles Schwab Cup money list, he will earn the Wildcard and qualify for the Playoffs.
In all, the 78-player field includes 19 players that are currently outside the top-72 in the standings: Dan Forsman (74th), John Huston (75th), Sandy Lyle (80th), Steve Jones (81st), Mark Brooks (82nd), Gibby Gilbert III (85th), Scott Hoch (86th), Dudley Hart (89th), Darren Clarke (92nd), Loren Roberts (95th), Bill Glasson (100th), Tom Kite (102nd), Neal Lancaster (132nd), Chris DiMarco (154th), Gil Morgan (169th), Sir Nick Faldo (NR), Marion Dantzler (NR), James Mason (NR) and Roger Rowland (NR).