Possessing a PGA TOUR card and being regarded as a PGA TOUR player are two very different states of mind. The first brings with it a sense of relief and of achievement; the second of truly belonging among the best players in world golf.
Those in Australia’s major football codes regard 100-gamers as genuine first graders but it has taken Harrison Endycott just five starts to prove to people – and to himself – that he can win on the PGA TOUR.
Endycott will make his sixth start as a PGA TOUR member at this week’s RSM Classic at St Simons Island in Georgia, his last event before returning home to play in both the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship and ISPS HANDA Australian Open.
He already boasts two top-15 finishes to sit 65th on the FedEx Cup points list, a position many others who have advanced from the Korn Ferry Tour would gladly take.
It has given the 26-year-old from Sydney the foundation to build from in 2023 and the confidence to know that his best golf is worthy of a place long-term on the PGA TOUR.
“You definitely learn that your good stuff is really close,” Endycott said of his learning curve that has included a share of the Round 1 lead at the recent Butterfield Bermuda Championship.
“That’s probably the biggest key that I’ve learned. When I’m on and I’m playing well, I’m seeing my name at the top of that leaderboard a little bit.
“That’s a huge confidence boost, especially for a rookie early on.
“Some guys get comfortable straight away, some guys take a little bit of extra time. I had no idea how I was going to feel.
“I was leading after Thursday in Bermuda and just to see those little, tiny one per cent wins within yourself, you can go to bed thinking, You know what, if I really work hard at this game and I tidy up the things I need to tidy up, I can go out and win out here.”
Craving a Carlton Draught and a chicken schnitty upon his return to Australia, Endycott’s travel plans should he play his way into contention this week will be the equivalent of aviation Jenga to make it to Royal Queensland on time.
“If we’re in contention this week, we might have a little bit of a dilemma, but don’t worry, I’ll be still trying to rush down,” Endycott added.
“Right now, my route is Jacksonville-Houston, Houston-San Francisco, San Francisco-Brisbane, arriving in Brisbane Tuesday morning.
“It was nice to use some of my AmEx points to upgrade to get home so I get some sleep. That would be rough if I was sitting in economy on the way home.
“I’m just going to push through on that Tuesday. My coach (Ben Paterson) asked me what I want to do on Tuesday and I said, ‘Mate, I land at 7.30, I want to be at the golf course all day. If I have to sleep, I’m done.’
“That’s kind of our plan for Tuesday. Hopefully we can try and get over that jetlag as quick as we can.”
Another of Australian golf’s biggest stars heading home from her final week in the US this week is Minjee Lee.
The US Women’s Open champion won the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award after the AIG Women’s Open and was confirmed as the winner of the $US1 million Aon Risk Reward Challenge earlier this week. But before she heads home Lee has her sights set on one more honour at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Florida, trailing New Zealand’s Lydia Ko by just one point in the Rolex Player of the Year award.
“I really want to win that, but I know there’s four people who potentially could win it and are really close,” said Lee
“I know I’m one point behind ‘Lyds’. I’m just going to have to take it day by day. Obviously it depends on where she finishes and where I finish as well.
“I’m not really sure about what the outcomes are, I’m just going to do my best and see where it is at the end of the week.”
Before he too returns to Australia, New Zealand’s Ryan Fox will go head-to-head with world No.1 Rory McIlroy for the DP World Tour Order of Merit title at this week’s DP World Tour Championship starting Thursday in Dubai.
Two wins and four runner-up finishes have catapulted Fox from No.217 in the Official World Golf Ranking to No.24 and he is ready to embrace what playing in the final group of the season finale may bring.
“Yeah, there will be nerves, but that’s what you play golf for,” said Fox.
“You want to be in those big groups, and it’s cool this year in the fact that I’ve earned the right to be there. Try to enjoy it as much as I can and hopefully continue the good form.
“I’ve obviously played in a few decent groups, been in contention a lot this year and handled that pretty well. Hopefully nothing changes in that respect on Thursday.”
Final Stage of DP World Tour Qualifying School also wrapped up overnight with no Aussies finishing inside the top 28 who earned 2023 DP World Tour cards.
Jordan Zunic’s tie for 51st was the best of the four Aussies who made the cut in the six-round marathon, he and Maverick Antcliff, Jarryd Felton and Dimitrios Papadatos all earning Challenge Tour status by virtue of qualifying for Final Stage.
Round 1 tee times AEDT
DP World Tour
DP World Tour Championship
Jumeirah Golf Estates (Earth Cse), Dubai, UAE
5.10pm Min Woo Lee, Oliver Bekker
7.45pm Ryan Fox (NZ), Rory McIlroy
Defending champion: Collin Morikawa
Past Aussie winners: Nil
Top Aussie prediction: Min Woo Lee
TV times: 6pm-12am Thursday, Friday, Saturday; Live 5.30pm-11.30pm Sunday on Fox Sports 505.
Sea Island Golf Club (Seaside Cse), St Simons Island, Georgia
1.50am Harrison Endycott, Will Gordon, Bryson Nimmer
2.20am Danny Lee (NZ), Patton Kizzire, Kevin Chappell
2.30am Jason Day, Seamus Power, Joel Dahmen
1.10am* Aaron Baddeley, Matt Wallace, Stephan Jaeger
1.40am* Cameron Percy, Patrick Rodgers, Austin Smotherman
2.40am* Brett Drewitt, Ben Taylor, Trevor Werbylo
Defending champion: Talor Gooch
Past Aussie winners: Nil
Top Aussie prediction: Jason Day
TV times: Live 1.20am-7am Friday, Saturday; Live 5am-8am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 505.
Japan Golf Tour
Dunlop Phoenix Tournament
Phoenix Country Club, Miyazaki
12.05pm Brendan Jones, Yuwa Kosaihei, Ohira Sato
Defending champion: Chan Kim
Past Aussie winners: Graham Marsh (1976)
Top Aussie prediction: Brendan Jones
CME Group Tour Championship
Tiburón Golf Club (Gold Cse), Naples, Florida
3.20am Hannah Green, Leona Maguire
4.30am Minjee Lee, Brooke M. Henderson
4.40am Lydia Ko (NZ), Atthaya Thitikul
Defending champion: Jin Young Ko
Past Aussie winners: Nil
Top Aussie prediction: Hannah Green
TV times: Live 6am-9am Friday, Saturday, Sunday; Live 5am-8am Monday on Fox Sports 506.