Back in the big show
Tyrone has earned a PGA Tour card the last three seasons.
ON THE EXTREME PRESSURE OF GAINING A PGA TOUR CARD
I prefer the new system of the Web.Com Tour Finals (four events) to Qualifying School – it rewards more consistent play.You can have a bad week at Q School and the next year is gone. But I have never felt so nervous as I was during the final event at the beginning of October. I honestly believe there is more pressure in trying to secure your card than being in contention in a major. You’re still going to earn a big cheque in a major, no matter what happens. Here, it’s feast or famine! In the final round of the Tour Championship I needed a top-10 finish to earn a card. There were some shaky moments on the back nine but I shot 68 to finish tied-fifth – moving me into 17th position on the Finals 25 money list and regaining my PGA Tour card.
ON TURNING HIS YEAR AROUND
I was down and out after a frustrating second season on the PGA Tour. But things started to improve from June onwards when I again started working with my old coach Robert Baker. We’ve worked together periodically since 2007.Although he is based in Germany, modern technology helps tremendously with a player/coach relationship, being able to exchange videos via smartphones. There’s always a simpler solution though – just play better!
ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLAYING THE PGA AND WEB.COM TOURS
There are three main differences between the tours. When you arrive in town for a PGA Tour event, you are provided with a courtesy car (a really nice one) for the week. That’s an immediate $300 saving. There is free food at PGA Tour events and the courses are generally of a much higher quality than those on the Web.Com Tour. PGA Tour budgets are obviously much bigger, so generally everything is of a higher standard.
ON TRYING TO MAKE A LIVING ON THE PGA TOUR
The last two years I’ve earned $623 000 playing the PGA and Web.Com Tours, of which $150 000 went to expenses. Remember that golfers are independent contractors, so we pay for all our own expenses. In America you have to file a tax return for every state you play in, and ultimately you are taxed 50 percent on all money earned. I have one corporate sponsor and one equipment sponsor. Even though I have not been able to retain my PGA
Tour card in the regular season – instead having to regain it via the Web.Com Tour – my family is able to live comfortably.
ON THE CAMARADERIE BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICAN PLAYERS
I’d never met Ernie Els before I got my PGA Tour card. He’s a cool customer who will talk to anyone and is really friendly to me. Rory Sabbatini gets a bad rap from a lot of people, but he couldn’t have been nicer to me.At one of my first events he approached me, introduced himself, and gave me his number, offering help or advice if I ever needed it. In February at the Humana Challenge in Palm Springs I went to dinner with Retief Goosen and Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge, and the Goose spoke so much – he’s definitely not as reserved as most people think.
ON BEING A DUAL-CITIZEN
After finishing college at Oklahoma City University in 2004 I entered the US Green Card lottery and won! After seven years of residency you can apply for citizenship, which I did, becoming a US citizen at a ceremony in San Diego in 2013. It’s so much easier to travel on an American passport, but I am still a patriotic South African. I play under the SA flag, and would be available to play for my country of birth in international competition.
ON HOW THE SUNSHINE TOUR COULD BE MORE ACCOMMODATING
I have averaged 27 events on the PGA and Web.Com Tours the last three seasons which makes it extremely difficult for me to play the minimum of eight events on the Sunshine Tour to retain a tour card there. I definitely want to support the Sunshine Tour, but it’s tough when you have to rely on invites to get into tournaments. It’s not a sense of entitlement, but I do wish the Sunshine Tour could recognise those South Africans with PGA Tour cards.
ON LESSONS LEARNED TO MOVE FORWARD
I like where my game is for the 2015-16 PGA Tour season. I have more belief now, and know that I belong on the PGA Tour. My driving has always been an issue, but I have the confidence now to stand up and smash it – which is a necessity out here these days.
Van Aswegen regained his PGA Tour card at the Web.Com Tour Championship in October.
With wife Cristin and daughter Scarlett.