Insider: Stefani sitting pretty heading into stretch run

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Shawn Stefani won the Midwest Classic presented by Cadillac last month for his first Tour win.
September 26, 2012
John Dell, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent Tour rookie Shawn Stefani has earned time off so he's going to take it.


Stefani, who sits comfortably at No. 14 on the all-important money list, is looking forward to taking the next two weeks off. He can afford to thanks to his consistency this season.

"I've played eight of the last nine tournaments so I'm going to take a couple weeks off and get some rest," said Stefani, a Houston resident. "I need to recharge my batteries and gear up for the final three events."

When Stefani, a 30-year-old former player at Lamar, gets back on Tour he'll be looking to continue to put up some solid numbers.

"The reasoning behind me getting to take the next two weeks off is I've put myself into good position," Stefani said. "There are a lot of guys who have played the last six in a row and then they'll have to play the rest of them as well and having a win and a top-10 finish earlier this month gives me a chance to go home.

"It will also give me some time to get excited about the game again."

Stefani was not excited about his game earlier this season and was struggling to find a solution. It wasn't until he started working with Dr. Richard Coop, a noted sports psychologist who is a professor at the University of North Carolina, when Stefani's game reached a new level.

Stefani said his troubles had nothing to do with his swing, but it had everything to do with his mind.

"About halfway through the year I had missed a few cuts even though I had played pretty solid," Stefani said. "I decided to do something to get better and in golf it's usually a mental thing so I got in touch with Dr. Coop, who has worked with Bo Van Pelt and Webb Simpson in the past."

The sessions with Coop paid dividends right away. It also didn't hurt that Stefani's putting came around and it helped him win the Midwest Classic presented by Cadillac in mid-August. He picked up his first Tour win by shooting a tidy 64 in Sunday's final round to finish at 17 under.

"We talked a lot about the process of the game and what that entails," Stefani said about working with Coop. "I guess the last eight events it's really paid off and was really important to me. The reasoning for my good play is I'm kind of focusing on the right things."

Stefani isn't wowing anybody with his statistics but it's his consistency that he's more concerned about. He ranks 14th on Tour in putting, 14th in driving distance (307-yard average) and is 12th in scoring average.

It took awhile for Stefani to get his footing in pro golf, but thanks to the mini tours he was able to make a decent living over six seasons. It's not always easy to hit the big tours right out of college and Stefani is a walking example.

He'll be 31 next season when he likely plays on the PGA TOUR for the first time.

Inside THE 25
1 Luke Guthrie $382,463
2 Luke List $331,079
3 Casey Wittenberg $330,553
4 Ben Kohles $295,057
5 Paul Haley II $254,981
14 Shawn Stefani $195,311

Stefani, who was college teammates with Chris Stroud and Dawie Van Der Walt, says the NGA Hooter's Tour and Adams Golf Pro Tour Series gave him chances to learn how to compete as a pro golfer.

He said he never doubted himself or looked at doing anything else while toiling on the mini tours.

"I stuck with golf through all those years and luckily I had some friends that were able to back me and allow me to do what it took to get better in the game," Stefani said. "I had a lot of support from family and friends and golf was the only source of income I had but luckily I played well enough to make a decent living and pay my bills."

Stefani said his life changed after being successful enough at last year's Qualifying School to earn status on the Tour this season.

"I stayed pretty patient on the mini tours," Stefani said. "I told myself that as long as I could stay patient and felt like I was getting better then I never doubted it. I always believed I could compete at the next level."

Stefani says when he looks back at his six-year run to this season he learned a lot.

"It was six years of competing on the mini tours and not moving up was tough to swallow but I was able to keep going with it and last year at Q school finals everything turned around and it actually changed my life," Stefani said.

Even though Stefani is secure to play on the PGA TOUR next season he's not about to let his game get rusty. He plans on coming back ready to do more damage in the Tour's final three weeks of the season that includes the Tour Championship at TPC Craig Ranch in late October.

As for looking ahead to the PGA TOUR, he's trying to be low-key about it.

"I've got to approach it that it's just golf," Stefani said about next season. "You can't get caught up in the moment because if you do it can kind of define you but it will be great and it's what I've worked for my whole life."

Stefani says he's also grateful for what he's learned on the Tour. That experience will come in handy next season.

"I think it does prepare you," Stefani said about the Tour. "There are guys out here that have won majors and played on Ryder Cup teams and the competition is just so great. If you can compete with these guys you can compete with the guys on the PGA TOUR."

.ohn Dell has covered golf for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina for the last 19 years. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. You can reach him at [].