2005: Tryon: Hooters victory just a start

Clermont, Fla.

As Ty Tryon will attest, there’s no substitute for winning.

After scoring a three-shot victory Feb. 3 in a NGA/Hooters Tour Winter Series event at the Legends Golf Club, the PGA Tour’s wunderkind of 2001 acknowledged that critics of his career path may have had a point.

“I definitely think there’s something to that,” he said of the importance of learning how to win on golf’s lower tiers before progressing to the big leagues. “Look at Chad Campbell. He’s a good example. He played the Hooters Tour and won (13 times in four seasons), then was on the Nationwide Tour (three victories in 2001), then the PGA Tour (winning twice). He took that confidence up, and I think that’s what I’m going to try to do here (on the Hooters Tour). That’s my goal, to try to win at whatever level.”

Tryon gained fame at the 2001 Honda Classic when, at 16, he made the field via Monday qualifying, then finished T-39. Expectations went through the roof that fall after Tryon, then 17, became the youngest player ever to earn a PGA Tour card at Q-School. Prior to that, his only victory of note had come at the 2000 PGA Junior Championship.

His first year as a professional was derailed when he was diagnosed with mononucleosis; he earned only $8,620 in eight starts. Granted a major medical exemption in 2003, Tryon made $125,875 in 21 starts – far short of what he needed to keep his card. He spent last season on the Nationwide Tour, where he earned $9,058 in 22 starts (199th on the money list).

Tryon, now 20, ended his victory drought by shooting 18 under par over 54 holes on the 6,911-yard Legends Course (67-64-67–198). He played the Legends’ four par 5s in 12 under, including three eagles (two in Round 1) and a bogey.

“I really just played the way I can play if I don’t shoot myself in the foot,” said Tryon. “That’s all I did. I just let missed shots be missed shots. I didn’t start doubting myself.”

Tryon said self-doubt was a factor during his ill-fated stint on the PGA Tour.

“It was really hard for me out there,” he said. “I’d miss a shot and I’d get upset and let it affect me for a couple of holes.”

His Hooters Tour victory was good for $11,000. But Tryon said the money is irrelevant.

“My incentive is to get some trophies,” he said. “I want to build a trophy case and fill it. I don’t care if it’s on the Hooters, Canadian, Nationwide, PGA, whatever.”

– Dave Seanor

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