It’s been well documented but as The White Stripes sing, “it bears repeating now”… This time last year Seamus Power missed the cut at the Sony Open to drop to 434th on the World Golf Rankings. In the early hours of Monday morning, he signed off on a tied-third finish at the same event to break into the world’s top-50 for the first time in his career.
It’s a funny old game, golf. On Sunday I played myself. Hit the most beautiful wedge shot to three feet on the fifth and made birdie. Was 20 yards short of the par-5 sixth in two, staring at another, boned a chip through the green, duffed the next one and scratched.
Ah yes, funny old game, golf. If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.
I’m sure in his quiet moments there’s been many a day in the not too distant past that Seamus Power shed a tear as the golfing gods seemingly conspired against him.
A graduate from East Tennessee University with an Accounting Degree in his back pocket, Power was all too aware of his profit and loss balance sheet as he tried to make it as a touring pro, from the cut-throat money games of the E Golf Tour where he’d stump up $1200 in cash each week and risk it all, to the Hunger Games of the Web.com (now Korn Ferry) Tour where the only thing bringing him back each year was the hope of playing himself off it.
“It was nerve racking stuff, basically playing for your livelihood,” Power recalled. “I got some great help from the Irish Sport’s Council for four or five years and without it I would’ve been in major trouble.”
2014, the year Rory McIlroy last won a Major championship, was also a year that could’ve feasibly been Power’s last on Tour. Four years on the E Golf Tour had taken their toll but after leading the money-list that season with $78,154 from 15 events, he finally cracked the code at Q-School, earning his card to the Web.com and taking a big step towards his ultimate goal of PGA Tour membership.
It was still a struggle financially, as it is for so many chasing the dream that’s lived by so few; so cash-strapped in fact that Power even had to hand back the keys to a brand new BMW X4 he won with a Hole-in-One in a Charity Pro-Am because he still had to pay taxes on it.
The West Waterford star has no such worries anymore having burst through the $5million career earnings mark on the PGA Tour and then some, banking $442,500 for his latest high-class showing and launching himself to 14th on the FedEx Cup standings, with his place in the end of season playoffs likely already secured.
“That’s a nice one,” he admits, having so often teetered on the brink of the top-125 with his future hanging in the balance.
“It’s by far the earliest I’ve ever had it locked up before so it’s kind of new territory for me. The goal is to be in East Lake at the end of the year for the Tour Championship, FedExCup Playoffs. That goal doesn’t change after this week. It just adds a couple points to my total, but a long ways to go.”
For now, Power’s feet remain planted, with sights firmly on a first visit to Augusta where those within golf’s coveted top-50 at the end of March will receive perhaps the greatest invitation in golf, and with it a joyous drive up Magnolia Lane.
Currently 49th on the rankings, just one place behind Shane Lowry, Ireland could yet boast four starters at the Masters this April with Rory McIlroy again going in search of the career Grand Slam and Padraig Harrington also in the field courtesy of his tied-fourth finish at last year’s PGA Championship.
It’s Power who’s flying the flag highest right now though and with his long-term future secure courtesy of his breakthrough Barbasol win, unburdened and with confidence brimming, he might just do it for a fair while longer.
He hasn’t booked his place in Augusta yet but this time next week, having come through the American Express Championship at La Quinta, he’ll likely be even closer, which is a little mad, considering where he was just 12 months ago.
It’s crazier still, when you take into account the years of struggle to the point of almost giving up the ghost in 2014. Scar tissue can go one of two ways. It can taint your picture of the world for eternity, or you can use it to your advantage and rebuild your walls with galvanised steel. Seamus Power chose the latter and that’s what’s most exciting about where he finds himself today.
The pressure attached to succeeding at the top end of golf’s world order can’t compare to the battles Power has fought and won along the way. And to that I say, bring on the war!