One Shot Shy

November 09, 1998

Golf's worst nightmare just happened to me. I'm Mr. 126, the guy
who missed his Tour card by one lousy spot on the money list.
The worst part is a scene that keeps replaying in my head: my
ball resting against the base of a palm tree, unplayable.

It happened two Sundays ago at the Walt Disney World Classic. I
had birdied the 14th, 15th and 16th holes to get into 20th
place, seven under par for the tournament. After starting the
week 127th on the money list, I was almost sure to move up
enough to keep my card as one of the year's top 125. All I had
to do was par in. But then I pushed my drive on the easy par-5
17th hole, and now, staring at my ball behind that tree, I saw
my Tour privileges slipping away.

I took a penalty stroke, reached the green in five and took a
double bogey. Instead of giving up, I made a 15-foot birdie putt
at 18. Suddenly it looked like I might squeak in. Reporters from
ESPN and the Golf Channel asked me how it felt--a birdie to keep
my card! My parents and my girlfriend, Margaret Mellin,
congratulated me. I was shaking when I went into the locker room
to check the computer. David Sutherland said, "Way to go, P.H.
You're in." But it slowly dawned on me that the numbers told a
different story. Blaine McCallister had shot 66 that day to beat
me out by $4,795 for the year. I lost my job by one shot.

Now I'm looking for a silver lining. I'm still partially exempt
for 1999, so I can play at least a dozen or so Tour events.
Another lift came from my big brother, Harry. His legs have been
paralyzed since a 1980 auto accident, but his spirit has been an
inspiration to me. "P.H., it's just another challenge," Harry
said. "In the long run it'll make you a stronger person and a
better player."

Next stop, PGA West--my eighth trip to Q school. I can't wait.
P.H. Horgan III, 38, has been a pro since 1990.

COLOR PHOTO: WINSLOW TOWNSON [P.H. Horgan III]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)