Pro Golf's Late Bloomers
For many talented golfers, even former PGA Tour winners, the Champions Tour gives them a shot at the big bucks
From the Print Edition:
Tom Berenger, July/Aug 2007
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Still, he wasn't sure that the Champions Tour would ever be in his future. The tendonitis was painful and debilitating. Then in the summer of 1997, shortly before his 50th birthday that December, Jenkins woke up one morning and the pain was all gone. Attending the tour qualifying school was a certainty, and after an opening round of 76, his short game kicked in and he finished 10th, good enough for a conditional card, good enough to launch a substantial career.
The trials weren't over quite yet. "About two weeks before I went to my first Monday qualifier in Miami in 1998, I had some soft tissue sarcoma removed from my forehead," says Jenkins. "They took all my forehead off, the soft tissue. I told the surgeon, 'When you go in there, if you see anything that is detrimental to my golf game, take it out too.' After the surgery he said, 'Man, you couldn't believe all the three-putt cells I found in there. I removed them all.' I owe it all to my plastic surgeon who took all that crap out of my forehead."
Jenkins has flown under the radar and over his expectations for the last nine seasons, winning seven times through the end of 2006 and piling up 97 top-10 finishes. He's chalked up more than $11 million. He's had a fair amount of success.
"What do you mean, 'fair amount'?" says Jenkins, jovially challenging that assertion. "I'd say it's more than fair. I'd say it's pretty darn good. I've really exceeded my expectations of what I could do out here, but as I got comfortable playing against these guys, I realized I belonged. It's really been great."
Jeff Williams is a Cigar Aficionado contributing editor.
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