Troy Kelly’s golf career started 24 years ago. He was six, at the time the youngest player to start competing in Washington State Junior Golf Association Tournaments.
Next week, the best golfer to come out of Kitsap area since the late George Bayer will be among 163 golfers trying to earn PGA Tour cards during the final stage of qualifying school. The tournament starts next Wednesday (Dec. 3) and runs through Dec. 8.
Kelly, now 30, is in the final stage of this tournament for the second time in three years. He’s 108 holes away from achieving his lifelong dream. The top-30 finishers earn their PGA Tour cards and the next 50 will earn full-time status on the Nationwide Tour. The rest earn at least part-time Nationwide status.
Do you recognize any of these names? Notah Begay, Bubba Dickerson, Scott Dunlap, Jason Gore, Robert Gamez, Hunter Haas, John Huston, Neal Lancaster, Frank Lickliter and Olin Browne.
They are among the golfers Kelly will be competing against. All are looking to regain Tour status, and if you’re a professional golfer, tour status is the goal. You don’t need to win on the PGA Tour to make a decent living. A top-10 finish in a single tournament could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ten golfers in the Nationwide Tour, the so-called minor leagues of golf, earned more than $300,000 last season.
So it’s easy to understand why this tournament is considered one of most pressure-packed, nerve-wracking sporting events in the world. ‘
Kelly’s been here before, so the nerves shouldn’t be so bad. Plus, he now lives in La Quinta so he’ll have somewhat of a homecourse advantage. Sounds like there will be a healthy contingent of local golfers down in the Palm Springs area next week to follow Kelly.
The Golf Channel will televise the final three rounds on Dec. 6-8: Saturday, 1-4 p.m., Sunday, 1-4 p.m. and Monday, 12:30-4 p.m.