David Hearn took a huge amount of pressure off himself with a clutch performance at the first PGA Tour Fall Series event, but he's not ready to go into wait-and-see mode.
A tie for fifth at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals For Children Open on Sunday in Las Vegas earned the Brantford, Ont., native a payday of $149,160 US and vaulted him from 129th on the money list to comfortable, inside-the-magic-125-number at 108.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "It's always fun to make a lot of birdies. "It was a really good week for me."
After a little pep talk from veteran Steve Elkington on the range, Hearn closed with a 65 Sunday in a birdiefest at TPC Summerlin to finish at -17 for the tournament, six shots back of winner Kevin Na.
The great finish wasn't an aberration. In his last competitive event, the Nationwide Tour's Boise Open in mid-September, which he played to keep his game sharp while the PGA Tour's playoffs were being contested, Hearn tied for sixth.
"I obviously know I can compete on the Nationwide Tour and I know I can compete on (the PGA) tour," he said. "I've shown that a lot more on the Nationwide Tour. But it reaffirmed to me that I was doing the right things and on the right track for the fall finish."
The tie for fifth last week was the best finish of Hearn's PGA Tour career and, while it offers some peace of mind as far as his tour card goes, there are three events left in the Fall Series.
"It puts me in a great spot to keep moving forward here as the fall finish goes on," he said. "I certainly am going to enjoy the opportunity of being in a little bit more comfortable of a position and just being able to play and try and move up as high as I can on the money list."
How about another career-best finish?
"(Last week) certainly wasn't a win, or finishing second, but it's getting a lot closer to that and I know that my time is coming."
WHERE TIGER FALLS
This week, Tiger Woods will be either A) The second coming of the saviour of the PGA Tour; or B) In a free fall from which his career never can recover.
Tiger-haters jumped all over the story this week when Woods fell out of the top 50 in the official world golf ranking for the first time in 15 years. Everyone, like him or hate him, suddenly is interested in the Frys.com Open because Woods is gracing it with his presence.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Can he single-handedly save tournaments by bringing in huge crowds and TV audiences? Sure.
Is his career on a downswing now that he has slid all the way to 51st in the world rankings? Not necessarily.
Whether or not Woods can or will regain his once-dominant form is debatable, but reading too much into his slide out of the top-50 can be misleading.
The world ranking, a complicated system that basically takes into account your two previous seasons' results, isn't a great gauge for a player that has been injured or sitting out large chunks of that time period.
If you look at Woods's stats, they're really not that bad for someone who played only sparingly.
Playing a very condensed schedule in the past two seasons, a lot of players would be thrilled with three top-5 finishes in majors and a bunch of other top-25s.
If Rocco Mediate is the "anit-Christ" of putting, then the PGA Tour has gone to hell in a handbasket.
Mediate, arguably the first to put the belly-, or long-putter into his bag and have some success, said he wasn't really received when he had success with the now-en-vogue flatstick back in 1991.
"I was the anti-Christ then in the putting world," Mediate said Wednesday in his news conference for the Frys.com Open.
"I just wasn't putting it good. I never had yips problems. I just wasn't putting it that good. And I came out in '91 with (the long putter), and I know (Bruce) Lietzke used it then, but then I won and I had like six straight top-10s and I won Doral.
"And now look at it now," he said, referring to the spate of young players who use the club and have won with it — including Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship, Webb Simpson and Adam Scott.
"Yeah, I was the anti-Christ. I mean trust me, I had a lot of interesting comments about the putter."
PERRY DOES SISTER PROUD
Watching Champions Tour golf is often about as intriguing as taking in an old-timers game down at the local rink.
On Sunday, however, Kenny Perry's first victory on that circuit was something special, if only for his display of inner strength.
Perry's sister, Kay, succumbed to breast cancer Saturday, two years to the day he lost his mother to cancer. He thought about pulling out of the SAS Championship but a phone call from his father convinced Perry to play Sunday in honour of his sister.
After a night of little sleep, Perry said he was "calm" on Sunday and that he wasn't thinking about winning because he "just wanted to make her proud."
He did both, claiming a one-shot victory set up by a 30-foot eagle putt on the par-5 17th at Prestonwood in Cary, N.C., looking skyward after it went in.
Canadians Rod Spittle and Jim Rutledge tied for 14th and 49th, respectively.
Webb Simpson is just $68,971 back of world No. 1 Luke Donald for the PGA Tour money title and, with Donald not likely to tee it up in the fall series because of commitments on the European Tour — where he also leads in money — many expect Simpson to play at least once more. Not only are bragging rights on the line for Simpson, but the PGA Tour money winner receives a five-year exemption on the tour ... Former world No. 1 David Duval is grinding to maintain his card. He comes into this week with $400,654 in earnings, roughly $170,000 back of Tim Clark at 125th on the list.