On the PGA Tour, Joel Dahmen has raked in about $10 million in earnings. He has maintained his status as a member of the tour for the past five years in a row, earned his maiden victory in 2021, and competed well in the United States Open in this past year.
Despite this, Dahmen freely confesses that he was terrified as the new season began. Why? Because if engaging in professional golf is like to walking a tightrope — both professions have heavy penalties for those who fall on the wrong side of small margins — then Dahmen began on the 2023 season without a safety net.
At the end of this season, Dahmen will no longer be eligible to use the two-year exemption he received for winning the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the previous year. Because losing his Tour card is the one thing that Dahmen wants to avoid more than anything else, he will have to work hard to regain his status on the PGA Tour in 2024.
Dahmen, whose previous work experience includes stints as a valet and at a golf course, said, “I’m scared to death of having a job.”
“Golf is incredibly difficult, and things can turn sour in a hurry,” he continued. “When we teed off in Napa (in September for the first tournament of the season, the Fortinet Championship), it felt like we were starting over from nothing. If you are unable to perform at a high level, you will be fired. I was acutely conscious of that.”
There is currently no need for Dahmen to update his resume just now. His efforts to maintain his TOUR card are off to a strong start thus far. He was placed 19th in the FedEx Cup before he came to Sea Island, having finished in the top 10 in each of his previous two outings. He has made the cut in each of the previous five tournaments he has played in, and he has finished in the top 16 or better four times.
At the halfway point of The RSM Classic, Dahmen is also only one shot behind the leader and is in a strong position to earn another of those highly desired exemptions valid for two years.
He started the week with a score of 67 on the Seaside Course at Sea Island, then on Friday he shot a 64 at the Plantation Course. Seamus Power, the current leader of the FedEx Cup, is another player who has reserved his best golf for his mid-30s. Dahmen played the opening two rounds of the tournament with Power. They provide a striking contrast to the youthful studs who are currently dominating The RSM list, including Chris Gotterup, Sahith Theegala, and Cole Hammer.
After making the transition from amateur to professional earlier this year, Hammer and Gotterup are both taking advantage of sponsor exemptions to compete. Gotterup was selected as the player of the year at the collegiate level for this season, whereas Hammer is a previous No. 1 in the global amateur rankings and made headlines after qualifying for the 2015 U.S. Open at the age of 15. Theegala was the best player in collegiate golf just two years ago, and he is fresh off a rookie season that came to a close at this year’s TOUR Championship.
At the halfway point of the competition, Hammer has a share of the lead with a score of 12-under 130 (64-66), while Theegala is one back and Gotterup is three back with a score of 65-68. Gotterup and Hammer each finished in the top 10 of their class at PGA TOUR University presented by Velocity Global this year, and both have earned status on the Korn Ferry Tour for the upcoming season.
The first time that Dahmen and Power crossed paths was during their first year of college, which was so long ago that the golf course on which they were competing (Arizona State’s Karsten Course) does not exist any longer. Both of them competed on mini-tours for a good number of years before making it to the Korn Ferry Tour. After competing on the tour for a few more years, they won their first TOUR title.
Now, either one of them has a chance to begin the 2023 FedEx Cup season in first place. After being tied for third in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba and scoring his second victory on the PGA TOUR last month at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, Power is currently in first place. This victory was his second overall on the TOUR. After shooting 66 and 68, Power is only four strokes off the leader at The RSM.
“I’m like, if I can keep up with Seamus it means I’m probably in a pretty good situation today,” said Dahmen, who is 35 years old. “I’m like, if I can keep up with Seamus it means I’m probably in a really good spot today.” “There wasn’t a lot of competition; rather, it was more along the lines of, okay, this person is sort of leading right now and he’s ahead of the game, so if you can stick with him, you’re definitely going to be in a good situation,” she said.
On Friday, when there were just four holes left to play, they were tied. However, Dahmen made three birdies while Power remained even par for those holes. According to Dahmen, one of the most rewarding aspects of his play this week was the fact that he was able to make a number of breaking short putts on Sea Island’s slippery greens.
“I’ve been working really hard to get better at putting. Even though the statistics don’t support my claim, I can assure you that things are getting better. According to Dahmen, “My short game has significantly improved this fall.” “Obviously, this fall has been incredibly wonderful for me, but I think the best golf is still ahead of me, sure,” he said. “This fall has been really excellent for me.”
The emotion of fear can be a powerful motivation.
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