Opportunities hard to come by early in 2010

February, 2, 2010
02/02/10
10:21
AM ET

Fran Quinn, 44, earned his 2010 PGA Tour card by virtue of his 25th-place finish on the 2009 Nationwide Tour money list. (Only 25 get promoted.) Because filling out PGA Tour fields is rather complicated, Quinn's status puts him near the bottom of a long list of players hoping to gain entry into tournaments week in and week out.

Meet Fran Quinn

• Fran Quinn, 44, earned his 2010 PGA Tour card by capturing the 25th and final spot on the Nationwide Tour money list.

• The Northwestern University grad last played a full season on the PGA Tour in 1992.

• In his career, Quinn has played in 50 PGA Tour events and made the cut 14 times. On the Nationwide Tour, he has 326 career starts and 176 made cuts.

• Quinn owns four career Nationwide Tour victories: the 1999 Nike Dakota Dunes Open, 2000 Buy.com Florida Classic, 2009 Albertsons Boise Open Pres'd by Kraft and the 2010 Panama Claro Championship. He has also won twice elsewhere around the globe in 2000 at the Asian PGA Tour Championship and the Thailand Open.

• Coming into the 2010 season, Quinn ranked 10th in career earnings on the Nationwide Tour.

• He lives with his wife, Lori, and children Owen, 11, Katie, 9, and Sean, 7, in Holden, Mass.

While facing the challenges of playing on the top golf tour in the world, Quinn will check in with ESPN.com periodically and share some of his experiences during his first full-time season on the PGA Tour since 1992.

Even though we finished inside the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour last year and they say you're exempt on the PGA Tour, you really have a conditional card. You've got to play your way into a better category.

I get text messages all the time from friends that say "Hey, what's the update?" or "Are you in or out this week?" ... That kind of thing. My family is looking forward to me being out there on a regular basis. Fortunately, I've got a great support system at home, and that helps a lot.

Last week in the Farmers Insurance Open, I got my first start of the season. My first round at Torrey Pines was on the North Course. I didn't make a whole bunch of putts, but I made three birdies and no bogeys and played pretty steadily to shoot an opening-round 69, which tied for 23rd.

The second round, on the harder South Course, I didn't get what I felt I deserved out of my round. On the front nine, I played awfully well. In my mind I felt as if I could have shot 3 or 4 under par, but I ended up shooting a few over.

On that golf course, it's all about momentum, and birdies are hard to come by. A lot of my struggles might have been because I hadn't played yet and was a little rusty -- and the rust was more mental in terms of thinking my way around a course as opposed to physical. I ended up missing the cut by 3 shots.

What was different about getting back to the PGA Tour this time? The stage is bigger, without a doubt. A lot of the players you know and some players you don't know who've had success on the PGA Tour are right there inside the ropes. But I felt very comfortable mentally. Yes, it was nice hearing my name called on that first tee, but I also knew I had a job to do. I felt I prepared myself to go out and have a good week. It didn't play out that way, but I felt very comfortable in that environment.

So what's next? Well, I'll work four or five days in the warm weather in Phoenix this week to play some holes and hone my short game. Then I'll fly to Pebble Beach over the weekend with the hopes of getting into the field at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Historically, there are always some who withdraw from that tournament. I don't know whether that will be the case this year. But I want to prepare myself as if I'm in the tournament, and that's kind of the hard thing. You don't want to go out there and have a wasted trip, but I look at it as I want to go out and get my work done, whether it's for next week or seven weeks down the road. That work that I put in can come back and pay dividends. Sometimes all the hard work doesn't pay off the right away, but it does pay off down the road.

Plus, I would love the opportunity to get into the AT&T because that would give me two tournaments in a row. I'll be playing the following week at the opposite-field event -- the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

In terms of planning my schedule for the year, there are those wild-card events where I'm going to be on the fence, and unfortunately those are early in the season. It's a challenge, too, living up here in the Northeast (Holden, Mass.). I want to spend some time with my family when I have the opportunity. But I've also got to keep myself physically and mentally ready to go when my time is called, and I'm trying to adjust to that right now. I just really want to be as sharp as I can be without playing before getting into a tournament.

What will happen? Who knows. But you can do only what you can do. And if you aren't getting the starts, it's tough to improve your situation. If I have a good week in the next two weeks, my schedule will take care of itself. The chips will fall where they fall.

Overall, you just have to try to keep yourself not only physically prepared but also mentally prepared to where you're ready to go when your time is called.

And still remember, it's just golf.

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