Takeaways: Driscoll's path changed by phone call
June 20, 2016
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- James Driscoll had sent in his application for Second Stage of Q-School. Then he learned he didn't need to go. (Nick Dantona/Contributed Photo)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – James Driscoll remembers the moment. It wasn’t pleasant.
The 38-year-old Boston native had just finished T34 at the 2015 Regular Season-ending WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz, sealing his fate of finishing outside the top 100 on the money list. Normally, a player outside the top 100 is forced to return to Second Stage of Q-School, and Driscoll assumed the same would apply to him.
So Driscoll found the media center and asked a Web.com Tour official where he could find a Q-School application.
“I felt like I was on such thin ice,” said Driscoll, who has 240 PGA TOUR starts to his credit, with two runner-up finishes. “I was having to go to Second Stage for the first time in a really long time.”
But about a month before Second Stage, as he was “grinding, trying to find my game and put it back together” at Medalist GC in south Florida, he received a phone call from the PGA TOUR with some pertinent news.
He was informed that he was eligible for a one-time Web.com Tour exemption that was reserved for players who had completed five consecutive seasons on the PGA TOUR. It was a “free pass,” as he put it, and he wasn’t about to pass it up.
“I have never been so elated in my life with a phone call,” Driscoll said. “I was grinding, trying to get things together, and I got that phone call and was like, ‘Oh my God.’
“That was the best phone call I ever got. Just the biggest weight off my shoulders I could’ve ever imagined.”
That winning feeling. ⛳️ 🎸 🏆 pic.twitter.com/vPnJTFJGQU— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) June 20, 2016
Entering last week’s inaugural Nashville Golf Open, Driscoll hadn’t done much to take advantage of the “free pass,” having missed seven of 10 cuts and standing a distant No. 144 on the money list.
Things came together at Nashville Golf & Athletic Club, though, as the University of Virginia alum fired a four-round total of 19-under 269 to capture his second career Web.com Tour title by three shots over Brian Campbell.
Sporting an Indiana Jones-style hat “crafted from the recycled tarps off of Brazilian cargo trucks,” Driscoll combatted the Tennessee summer heat throughout the week, shaking off a double bogey at the par-5 18th hole Saturday with a 5-under 67 in the final round that included a hole-out eagle on the long par-4 12th hole.
Driscoll moves to No. 17 on the money list, and suddenly he’s well positioned to earn back status on TOUR, where he has played nine full seasons.
He’s fully exempt on the Web.com Tour through 2017, too. So at the very least, he won’t have to worry about Second Stage for a while.
James Driscoll interview after winning the Nashville Golf Open
Brian Campbell likes this time of year.
During 2015 U.S. Open week, Campbell was at the U.S. Open, where he finished T27 to earn low amateur honors.
The Illinois alum didn’t try to qualify for this year’s U.S. Open, though, as he’s keeping his focus on the Web.com Tour in order to give himself the best possible chance of finishing inside The 25.
Enjoying the U.S. Open coverage in between his rounds at Nashville G&AC, Campbell justified his decision in decisive fashion, firing a four-round total of 16 under to finish runner-up.
The 23-year-old California native entered the season with conditional status but has made the most of his opportunities, recording four top-10 finishes in six starts, including a pair of runner-ups.
After missing nine guaranteed starts by a shot at Final Stage of Q-School, Campbell could’ve wallowed in his disappointment. Instead, he resolved to take advantage of his chances. Now he’s No. 9 on the money list.
“I don’t really get disappointed that often; it is what it is,” said Campbell in reference to his near-miss at Q-School. “Why get mad? It will only affect how you play.
“I looked at the bright side and said, ‘Well, I’m going to get a few starts, and I’m good enough to play out there, so it should work out.’”
That, it has.
Last year, Brian Campbell received a medal on U.S. Open Sunday.— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) June 19, 2016
This year, he's well-positioned for a trophy. https://t.co/qzSNqAIHdS
Mark Anderson describes the mid-season injury in 2014 as “stupid-related.”
Anderson was “messing around with ladders” at his house, and he fell off one, breaking his ankle in the process.
After he recovered and returned to action for the 2015 season, Anderson struggled to regain his form, making just seven cuts in 19 starts between the PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour.
With a sharpened focus for 2016 – and a sharpened short game – Anderson has turned over a new leaf.
Ladders are in the rear-view mirror, and the game is ascending. Anderson finished T3 in Nashville, his fifth top-25 finish in nine starts, to move to No. 27 on the money list. A place inside The 25 is now firmly in his sights.
“I just worked really hard on the short game,” said Anderson of this past offseason. “Especially wedges, distance control and stuff like that, that’s been the key. My touch around the greens, it comes and goes, but overall it’s been really good.”
Grayson Murray’s prodigious length helped him throughout the week at Nashville G&AC, which played to nearly 7,600 yards.
Example A, the 655-yard, par-5 18th hole. Early in the week, Murray hit driver, 5-iron into the hole with a helping wind. In Saturday’s third round, he hit driver, 4-wood to the back fringe and two-putted for a sixth consecutive birdie to close the day.
Murray shot four consecutive rounds under par to finish in solo fifth place, his third top-10 of the season in just five starts. After beginning the year with conditional status, he should now be set to gain entry into all fields for the remainder of the 2016 Regular Season.
The Raleigh, North Carolina native ranked third in the field in driving distance, averaging 311.5 yards off the tee. Most importantly, he turned it into good scoring.
Chris Baker celebrated Father’s Day the right way with his father Jim, a former United States ski team member, on the bag for the week in Nashville.
Baker gave his dad a gift with his performance on the course, as well. The Iowa State alum fired a four-round total of 10 under to finish in a tie for ninth, his second consecutive top-10 finish on Tour. He moves to No. 51 on the money list.
After beginning the season with conditional status, Baker is grateful to have the opportunity to plan his schedule for the remainder of the year.
“I can actually set a schedule and book plans and know where I’m going next week,” Baker said. “Versus previously at the beginning of the year, anything can happen.
“I’ve fortunately been able to get some status that’s going to let me play the rest of the year, which is very exciting.”