Durant, Slocum hope to turn tide at Pebble Beach

Heath Slocum

Heath Slocum

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Hilton Head, SC - Harbour Town Golf Links

7:42:50 AM ET. 04/19/2014




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Collectively, Joe Durant and Heath Slocum have played a total of eight times in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. And they've done so with little success.

In four starts, Durant has never played on Sunday, missing the cut in 1993, '97, '99 and '09.

For Slocum, the results are marginally better: missed cuts in 2002 and '11, a T-35 showing in 2010 and a T-40 finish in 2012.

Both players from Florida's Panhandle are now in the same boat, without full status on Tour, taking advantage of playing opportunities when they present themselves – even if the opportunities were in tournaments or courses they would normally take a pass on.

“Oh, God, just trying to find something to play in,” Slocum said after his 3-under 69 at Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of three courses being used, that included two eagles. “My wife is finally just going, you've got to get out of the house. And same with me.”

Slocum joined the PGA Tour in 2002 and for the next nine years would keep his card, winning four times, including The Barclays in 2009. But a mediocre year in 2012 eventually cost Slocum his card. The 38-year-old failed to record a top 10 and earned just $518,198, finishing 142nd on the PGA Tour money list.

After missing out in Q-School last year thanks in part to sending his tee ball into the water on his final hole, Slocum has had two months off. For a player who averaged 29 events a year, the time off is like exile.

“It was a good thing for my girls, but the weather has been bad, so I've just been trying to play when I can,” Slocum said. “I did a couple Monday qualifiers (San Diego and Phoenix) out here and spent a few days at Titleist and a few days at Ping trying to get some kind of work in."

Durant's future is a little brighter because he is older and knows the Champions Tour is not far away. With a birthday in early April, Durant will turn 49 and on the precipice of the Champions Tour. But that would be in 2014. Now the four-time winner, like Slocum, is looking for starts.

“I'll turn 50 next year in April, but I'd sure love to get my card back for one more stab at it,” Durant said after his 1-under 71 at Pebble Beach Golf Links. “That would be a beautiful thing, if I had my card and I could kind of play both tours a little bit. My plan is to certainly lean much heavier towards that one than this one when I'm 50, but it would still be nice to pick some spots out here and play.”

Durant and Slocum find themselves in the predicament of many veteran PGA Tour players without their cards: getting starts on the PGA Tour is not easy due to the shortened season, as the 2014 season starts in October.

A former winner of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in 2001, Durant had hoped he would get a sponsor exemption into the Palm Springs event, but like 1999 winner David Duval, Durant was unceremoniously denied a spot, and instead stayed home in Pensacola and worked on his game.

“I understand,” Durant said of not receiving an exemption. “I've had my chances. I've gotten exemptions. I was disappointed I didn't get to play. I wanted to play, but there was a lot of other guys that wanted to play, too, that wanted spots and didn't get them.”

Now both hope to play well enough to get into next week's Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. If not, Slocum is off to Panama and then Bogota on the Web.com Tour, and both will play the Puerto Rico Open, which is opposite the WGC event at Doral, at the beginning of March.

“It's a strange year because everybody is kind of off balance a little bit,” Durant said of the shortened 2013 schedule. “We'll wait and see who all is going to play where and when.”

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