Back in the big show

Ty­rone has earned a PGA Tour card the last three sea­sons.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life - In­ter­viewed by Barry Havenga

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.