Cauley avoids Q-School, earns PGA Tour card
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – When not contending in PGA Tour events, Bud Cauley has been practicing on the back end of TPC Sawgrass’ driving range. That secluded practice area down the coast in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., is reserved for members of the PGA and Nationwide tours.
“I’ve been kind of sneaking back there,” Cauley joked.
He won’t have to be stealth anymore. Cauley clinched his 2012 PGA Tour membership with a final-round 66 Sunday at the McGladrey Classic. His 8-under 272 at Sea Island’s Seaside Course was good for a 15th-place finish. He started the week with $671,150 in earnings, a total that all but guaranteed a Tour card for next year. Now it’s a certainty.
Cauley started this week the equivalent of 114th on the PGA Tour money list (non-members do not appear on the list). Players who finish the equivalent of No. 125 or higher earn membership for the next year.
“If that’s the case, it’s very exciting for me,” Cauley said. “I’ve always dreamed of playing on the PGA Tour.”
Cauley will spend time on the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit before playing his first event as a member, though. He’s scheduled to play this week’s Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open after receiving a sponsor exemption into his hometown Nationwide Tour stop. He needed to finish in the top-10 at the McGladrey to earn a spot in next week’s Children’s Miracle Network Classic, the PGA Tour’s final event, after being denied a sponsor exemption.
Cauley, who played at Alabama and was a member of the 2009 Walker Cup team, turned pro after this year’s NCAA Championship. His summer started at the U.S. Open, where he tied for 63rd. He has four top-25s in seven starts this season, highlighted by a T-4 at the Viking Classic and a third-place finish at last week’s Frys.com Open. He also finished fourth in his only Nationwide Tour start of the season, at the Utah Championship.
Cauley’s father, Bill, has been following Bud to those events. Bill Cauley used to write “Be Humble, Bud” on the inside of his son’s baseball caps. It’s a lesson Bud took to heart, never allowing himself to take success for granted.
“That’s just his nature,” Bill Cauley said. “I’m walking around daydreaming. Thankfully he’s not.”
Cauley can take a second to soak it all in now. His PGA Tour dream has become a reality.