Failure on tour more lucrative than expected

Briny Baird at the Greenbrier Classic.

How would you like to earn $710,000 to fail? Or even $274,000?

I would.

There will be many sad stories over the next couple of weeks of PGA Tour and European Tour players failing to retain cards on their respective tours. We need to keep these stories in perspective.

This week’s Children’s Miracle Network Classic on the PGA Tour is the last chance saloon for players trying to get inside the top 125 on the money list to retain playing rights for next season. European players go through the same test in Hong Kong next week, where anyone inside the top 115 keeps a card for the 2011 European Tour.

No doubt it will be heartbreaking for many of these players, but let’s not pass the hat around for them. They don’t need it.

The price of failure is very rewarding.

Briny Baird is currently 126th on the PGA Tour money list. Yet he’s earned $710,337 this season. I’m going to have a hard time weeping for him if he fails to get inside the top 125.

I’m probably not going to shed too many tears for players further down the list either. James Driscoll is ranked 154th but has still earned over $500,000 – $500,625 to be precise. It doesn’t end there. Harrison Frazar has made $201,280 for being 187th best player on the PGA Tour this year.

I know many people in the US who’d love to make that sort of money for not doing their job to the best of their ability.

The price of failure isn’t so lucrative in Europe, but it’s not bad. It’s probably going to take about €200,000 to stay inside the top 115. Sam Hutsby is currently occupying that spot with €197,809 in earnings. That’s around $274,000 just to finish last. Not bad for a guy who’s only 22.

I bumped into European Senior Tour player Roger Chapman at Orlando Airport last Friday. Chapman had just made it through stage one of Champions Tour Qualifying. He in turn had bumped into former Euro Tour player Daniel Chopra.

Chapman was surprised to see Chopra driving a yellow Lamborghini. Chapman asked me if Chopra had been very successful on the PGA Tour.

My reply: he only needs to be moderately successful to have a nice lifestyle.

For the record, Chopra has two wins in five PGA Tour seasons – the Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro and the 2008 Mercedes-Benz Championship. He never won on the European Tour, although he has nine international victories, mostly in Asia.

A good player, if not a great one.

In five years he has earned $7.7 million. He’s one of hundreds of millionaires on the PGA Tour, many who have been far less successful than him.

So cue the sad stories of players missing their cards by a few hundred dollars or a few hundred euros, but save the tears.

These guys aren’t exactly on the bread line.

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