PGA National a rare familiar stop for rookie Bryan
Wesley Bryan's experience includes earning his Web.com Tour card on the course 14 months ago
February 23, 2017
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Wesley Bryan interview after Round 1 of HondaFollowing an opening-round 64, Wesley Bryan reflects on his play in The Honda Classic 2017 with Fred Albers from PGA TOUR Radio.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Wesley Bryan’s lack of success on a reality show is paying dividends at a PGA TOUR event.
Wesley and his older brother, George, were two of the first players eliminated from the Golf Channel’s Big Break: The Palm Beaches, which was filmed at PGA National in September 2014.
“It was actually a great thing to get kicked off the show really early,” Wesley said. “We were able to (play) three or four rounds over here after getting eliminated, so that definitely made things a little bit easier.”
PGA National also is the annual host of The Honda Classic, and Wesley’s course knowledge helped him shoot 64 on Thursday to share the early first-round lead with fellow rookie Cody Gribble, who won this season’s Sanderson Farms Championship.
Playing unfamiliar golf courses is one of the challenges a PGA TOUR rookie must overcome, so Wesley is happy to be on familiar territory. Torrey Pines is the only other course he’s played this season that he’d previously seen.
“A place that I’m comfortable at, and a golf course I know, they are few and far between out here,” Wesley said. “It’s my first run at all these tournaments out here. I love this place, love this golf course.”
The Big Break wasn’t his only trip to PGA National. Fourteen months ago, he was here for Web.com Tour Q-School. His return provides an opportunity to reflect on his rapid rise through pro golf’s ranks.
The Bryan brothers were best known for their viral trick-shot videos when they arrived at PGA National in December 2015. Wesley was seeking status on the Web.com Tour for the first time, while George was on his bag.
Wesley finished ninth at PGA National that week, then was the Web.com Tour’s Player of the Year after winning three times in 2016.Wesley Bryan, left, and his brother George at the 2015 Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament at PGA National. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)
Wesley is coming off a career-best T4 finish at last week’s Genesis Open. He entered the final round at Riviera in second place – albeit five shots behind Dustin Johnson – after shooting 63 in the third round.
“(I’m) just kind of picking up where I left off,” Wesley said. “I was able to get the ball in the fairway with some of the tougher driving holes out there, and set up a couple good birdie opportunities.”
After facing poa annua greens and rainy weather in California over the past few weeks, Wesley also welcomed a return to Bermudagrass, the type of grass that he grew up on in South Carolina, and warmer weather. Thursday’s high temperatures neared the 80s.
He currently lives in Augusta, Georgia, and an invitation to his hometown tournament awaits this week’s winner. He also could qualify for next week’s World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship with a win. The top 10 in the FedExCup and the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking at week’s end will qualify for that event.
He’d played just 13 PGA TOUR events prior to this week, but this isn’t his first time holding the lead. The week after he won his third Web.com Tour event to earn an immediate promotion to the PGA TOUR, Wesley shared the 36-hole lead at the John Deere Classic. He went on to finish eighth.
His rookie season got off to a slow start, though. He missed four of his first eight cuts and didn’t have a top-40 finish in that span. He was 154th in the FedExCup before last week’s strong showing, which jumped him to 88th.
“I didn’t play bad. If you look at the stats, the stats aren’t good. If you look at the finishes, the finishes weren’t great, but I didn’t feel like I was really far off,” Wesley said. “I had a lot I was building on each week, and I was able to put it together in just one round at Riviera that slung me into contention.
“We’re off to a good start here, so hopefully we’ll have another crack at it.”