No-names have their day
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - The numbers, before and after the Greenbrier Classic, look almost fabricated.
They don't merely illustrate the struggles of the top finishers, they mock them.
Upon the conclusion of the 72nd hole, a tie had to be settled between two obscure players from the "reshuffle" list, those PGA Tour players who have to sweat out their tournament entries from week to week.
The "reshuffle" players are composed of Web.com Tour and "Q School" graduates from the previous year.
As the year begins, those players are listed by their finish in the two areas. Then, from time to time, the list is reshuffled in order of money earnings.
When Ted Potter Jr. finally bested Troy Kelly in a three-hole playoff following the final round Sunday, their rankings, money earnings and status changed considerably. Potter earned a two-year exemption and an escape from the "reshuffle" pile, while Kelly and third-place Charlie Beljan will get a much better place in the next reshuffling, Aug. 5.
The trio's situation improved greatly in three other important standings.
Take the FedExCup list, for starters. Potter's 500 points shot him up from 173rd to 51st, well inside the magic number of 125. Tournament winners have said they expect to make the second round of the four-week Cup playoffs no matter what, and be in good shape to make the third.
Potter enjoyed his first top-10 of his career, as did Kelly and Charlie Beljan. Kelly earned 300 points to lift him from 187th to 104th in the FedExCup list. Beljan was tied for third place, winning 1621/2 points and climbing from 208th to 145.
On the money list - again, the top 125 is critical - Potter went from 167th to 42nd, Kelly from 199th to 87th and Beljan from 204th to 125th.
The jump in world rankings for these three is comical. The stronger Greenbrier field gave more points to Potter, who shot up from 218th to 83rd. His previous high ranking was 158th, before he missed nine of the next 13 cuts.
His perseverance is more than admirable.
He turned pro shortly after high school, playing the Moonlight Tour in central Florida. He made the then-Nationwide Tour in 2004, playing 24 tournaments . . . and missing all 24 cuts.
His luck turned upward on the NGA Hooters Tour, where he was named player of the year in 2006 and 2009. But he took two more shots to get through the Nationwide, finally finishing second in the 2011 money list and earning a "graduation."
"When you're missing cuts every week, you get down on yourself," said Potter, still just 28. "But the one thing, plus-side for me is I was still young. I mean, I was only 20 years old."
Kelly isn't as highly ranked in the world, but he rose nearly 300 places from 464th to 167th in the World Rankings. Beljan, who scored his first world points ever in early June, went from No. 1,080 to 378th.
Having tasted life at the top, they can testify how tough it is to get there.
"I just think golf in general at every level has gotten so much better," Kelly said. "I think the mini-tours are better, I think guys learn to shoot low scores."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.