Insider: Bolli scrambling to crack top 25 in stretch run

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
Justin Bolli, 36th on the Tour money list, is scheduled to tee it up at this week's Neediest Kids Championship.
October 03, 2012
John Dell, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent Tour veteran Justin Bolli has been around long enough to know that toward the end of the season the tension gets ratcheted up.


Players are scrambling to find their games so they can move in the right direction on the all-important money list. Bolli, 36, can sense that tension but he's OK with dealing with it.

"A little bit, it's definitely there," Bolli said about the tension. "But it's that way because it's kind of getting down to the wire."

Bolli, a former Georgia player, has had a decent season and comes into this week's Neediest Kids Championship in Potomac, Md., in scrambling mode. He sits at No. 36 on the money list and he'll have four more tournaments to try and crack the magical top 25 on the money list to earn his PGA TOUR card for 2013.

He's achieved that three different times -- in 2004, 2007 and 2009. By finishing so well in those three seasons he earned a PGA TOUR card three different times.

"My goal from the start of the year was to finish inside the top 25," said Bolli, a three-time winner on the Tour that spans 152 events where he has made $1.2 million to rank ninth on the Tour's all-time money list. "And that's still realistic but I'm scratching and clawing trying to get there."

Since missing the cut at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational, Bolli has made six cuts and finished inside the top 25 four times during that stretch.

"I'm playing OK but I've finished 30th too many times," Bolli said. "I have to look at it like I've got four events left and I just need to play well."

When Bolli was on his game and made it into the top 25 three different times he was in control early in those seasons. He doesn't have that luxury this time and has turned into the chaser.

Inside THE 25
1 Luke Guthrie $382,463
2 Casey Wittenberg $342,653
3 Luke List $331,079
4 Ben Kohles $295,057
5 Robert Streb $274,391
25 Doug LaBelle II $155,414
36 Justin Bolli $118,791

"The only difference this year compared to those other three was I played pretty well early in the year and was inside the top 25 most of those seasons," Bolli said. "I've never had to grind it out down the stretch like I've got to do this time."

Bolli says his putting stroke is a lot better compared to last year when he ended up 57th on the money list. Thanks to a visit to the TaylorMade putting lab last winter, Bolli said he straightened out his putting stroke.

"That really opened up my eyes to a lot of things that were wrong in my stroke so I went there and worked on those things," Bolli said. "So ever since then I've had a pretty good frame of mind with the putter."

He ranks third on the Tour in putting average and is second in sand save percentage.

"I've really improved my putting a lot," he said. "My chipping and short game have been solid, too. The only part of my game that has taken a step back is tee to green where I haven't hit it as well as I've done in the past."

Bolli has been able to make a comfortable living since turning pro in 1999 and has combined to make nearly $1.9 million on both tours. However, he says having a growing family puts a different spin on why he plays the game.

Bolli and his wife, Amy, have 10-month-old boy named Brayden, who keeps them both pretty busy.

"It's very motivating for sure," Bolli said about having their first child. "We've got to take care of him so it's kind of a new way of looking at things. I'm still nervous on the course but you are definitely more relaxed because of the home life."

Bolli can remember his younger days as a pro when golf was the only thing on his mind.

"When you are 24 years old you tend to think that golf is everything," Bolli said. "Now, there's a whole lot more and better things are going on. There are some days I don't play well and I'm mad and I'll get home and see him and I'll kind of smile.

"My anger goes away immediately and that's kind of cool."

What would be even cooler for Bolli is if he can put together a good run and battle for a spot inside the top 25. He says that with his vast experience on both tours getting another shot at the PGA TOUR would be satisfying.

"I know for next season the top 25 after the regular season go to the PGA TOUR but there is kind of a sense of urgency because everything changes on the Tour next season," Bolli said about the new qualifying system starting next season. "You kind of want to get to the PGA TOUR this year where it's clear cut by finishing inside the top 25."

Bolli said he'd rather be safely inside the top 25 but since he's not he can let it all out and see what happens.

"Being outside of the top 25 I feel a lot of pressure on me," Bolli said. "I don't feel a ton of pressure, but I feel like I don't have much to lose either because I'm outside of the top 25. I just need to try and make a big move."

John 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