BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Certainly there’s a great deal at stake for a lot of players this week at the 73rd Senior PGA Championship, and few people know that better than Joel Edwards.
As many recently turned 50-year-olds realize, some advance into senior golf with more Champions Tour opportunities than others. Edwards, who turned 50 after the end of the 2011 season, falls into the category of a player looking to turn rags into riches.
Though he made just shy of 400 career starts on the PGA Tour, his total earnings of $4.286 million were not enough to give him playing status of any kind for his inaugural Champions Tour season.
So as Edwards tried to play his way into contention on Saturday in the third round of the 73rd Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores — and he got into the field only by moving off the alternate’s list, thanks to player withdrawals — he recognized the possibilities that lay ahead as he took a fifth-place standing heading into Sunday’s final round. A great week could go a long way toward keeping him among the top money-winners at the end of the season, which, in turn, would give him an adequate number of playing opportunities for 2013.
But for a player to have any earnings, the first step is getting into events, and that’s a hurdle for Edwards.
“I’m playing in the Senior British; I know I’m in that,” said Edwards, “but everything else I’ll try to qualify for on Monday. That’s what I do. Hopefully I can win enough, or play well enough, to work my way on (the Champions Tour).
“If you can get acclimated . . . and it’s probably different for me because I haven’t done this for four or five years. I played the last two on the Nationwide to try and get used to it, but qualifying is rough. It is really hard. A friend of mine asked me, ‘Well, who’s playing in these qualifiers?’ and I said, ‘Well, just look at a (PGA) Tour list from 1995 and that’s who’s playing. It’s not a cakewalk.”
Though he shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday, the margin between Edwards and leader Roger Chapman widened from five strokes to start the round to eight at the end of the day.
“I wish that was me,” he said with a shrug of the shoulders. “But the putts are out here if you put the ball in the right place and obviously he’s doing that.”