Bingham chasing his dream

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

Brett Bingham is getting close.

This is as close as the Red Deer golfer has ever been to getting his PGA Tour card.

For the past six years, Bingham has attended regional PGA qualifying tournaments throughout the United States, but he has never made it to the final stage. He's in the final stage now.

And after four rounds at PGA qualifying school in Orlando, Florida, Bingham is a few shots back of the projected cut. On Friday, he shot a 69 at Panther Lake golf course to hurl himself back into contention. Yesterday he shot 68 at Crooked Cat golf course to keep himself there.

With two rounds left to play, the 30-year-old is looking to be one of the top 30 - with ties - of the 161 golfers in the field to earn a PGA tour card.

PRETTY GOOD START

"We got off to a pretty good start," Bingham said. "If we are able to put a couple more good rounds together we'll be right there."

Bingham is one of five Canadians taking part in the final round of qualifying school.

The process of attaining a tour card is a long and arduous one.

Bingham went through two stages of regional qualifying events before making it to the final stage.

At this point, Bingham can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yet his focus remains on the prize, no matter how hard that may be at times.

"You try not to worry about it, but it's pretty hard just with the whole atmosphere of the week, all the different guys you see out there and all the different distractions that are going on," Bingham said.

"But you just want to go out there and do your own business, and hopefully at the end of six days, it's good enough."

The road to the PGA tour started in Red Deer for Bingham. He parlayed a good junior career into a college scholarship at the University of Nevada.

After graduation, Bingham played throughout North America with stints on the Canadian Tour.

He's been grinding it out for the past seven years.

"I guess the light went on when I won a couple of college tournaments, that I may be able to do this for a living," said Bingham. "My first college win, with the players that were in that field, it kind of backed up my focus a little bit and I saw that there was a good chance I could do this.

"I had a couple of good finishes as an amateur and on Canadian Tour events as well. Once you realize the opportunities are there you do whatever you can to get there."

Injuries have slowed down Bingham in the past few years. A torn ligament in his hip and a stomach virus cost him a year back in 2003.

Last year he battled a herniated disk in his back.

Now healthy, Bingham is playing the best golf of his life.

"My goal at the start of the year was to get here," he said. "I just wanted to keep working and doing everything I could just to get here.

BUILDS CONFIDENCE

''Getting here this year is confidence for me and shows me that I'm on the right track and I'm working on the things that I need to work on to get to this point."

This year, Bingham played in a handful of Canadian Tour events, which included stops in Edmonton and Winnipeg.

For the most part, however, he's been concentrating on qualifying for the PGA Tour.

Having reached this point, it's important for Bingham not to get too far ahead of himself.

"I think that's the key to this whole thing," he said.

"It's just like the cliches - you just want to take it one shot at a time. That's the part about Q-school - trying to stay in the present and worry about this shot, this hole and this putt.

''As soon as the brain starts to wonder, you have to suck yourself back in and monitor that and get back into the present. or else you just lost six days."

That includes not getting caught up in the fact he's one of the few Canadians still swinging. The further Bingham makes it, the more attention he'll garner in this country.

HASN'T THOUGHT ABOUT IT

"I haven't really thought about it that way too much," he said. "I've seen (Jim) Rutledge down here in passing, but I think there are enough distractions down here without having to worry about that too. Obviously it's in the back of your mind - it always is."

In fact, Bingham does not even concern himself with the leaderboard, or where he needs to finish to qualify. He's just going out and trying to put the best six rounds of his life together and hope it's enough.

"I couldn't even tell you where I'm at or where anybody else is at," he said. "The only person I know is that (leader) Michael Allen is at 13-under. What I just focus on is that I'm 12 back of the lead and that's all I care about."

Bingham has not thought much about his PGA card.

"Right now I don't even know," he said. "When you chase a dream for 16 years now and you have it come true, it would be pretty special. I guess you'll just have to ask me that on Monday."


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