PGA Tour exemption gives Séamus Power much-needed stability

Waterford man eyeing a strong finish to season following recent breakthrough win

Seamus Power: ‘It [the win] gets me closer to the top tier, it’s a nice stepping stone. I’ve always believed that’s where I want to play, and that’s where I’m going to play. There’s a lot more work to be done but hopefully I’m going to get there.’ Photograph:  Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Seamus Power: ‘It [the win] gets me closer to the top tier, it’s a nice stepping stone. I’ve always believed that’s where I want to play, and that’s where I’m going to play. There’s a lot more work to be done but hopefully I’m going to get there.’ Photograph: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

Things have changed for Séamus Power, as he returns to the PGA Tour for this week’s Wyndham Championship in North Carolina. He can concentrate fully on golf.

No more figuring out his itinerary, of where he can or cannot play, or going to the lottery that is Monday qualifying in search of a late ticket to the show. These days, he’s jumped in as a headliner.

For the 34-year-old Waterford man, a product of West Waterford Golf Club and of East Tennessee University before chasing the professional dreams on various mini-tours, the Web. Com (nowadays known as the Korn Ferry) and at times on the PGA Tour itself, his breakthrough win in last month’s Barbasol Championship has provided genuine career security and a chance to aim even higher.

Take the next few weeks. Power, after a couple of weeks at home in Ireland, will leave his new Las Vegas base for the Wyndham – the last of the regular season events on the PGA Tour – and, then, next week head on to the Northern Trust at Liberty National, the first of the megabucks end-of-season FedEx Cup playoff events.

The aim will be to kick on and try to secure a place in the BMW Championship and, ultimately, the Tour Championship at East Lake where only the top 30 players in the standings will tee it up.

Power collected a career-best payday of $630,000 for his win in the Barbasol – where he beat JT Poston at the sixth hole of a sudden death playoff– which in turn increased his season’s prize money to $1,484,029 and moved him up in the FedEx Cup standings, currently in 72nd position.

“I’m not sure if the prize money I won is going to change the way I am living but it definitely helps and makes those financial decisions a little easier. In saying that, playing on the tour, the prize money is pretty good and, even without a win, you can still earn very good money.

“If anything, earning that exemption [to the end of 2023], that’s kind of the stability that is going to change so that I can really plan a schedule for the next couple of years which I have not been able to do for a long time,” said Power, adding:

“Yes, the money is brilliant in terms of putting something away for my eventual retirement but having the exemption really takes the pressure off competing and offers that stability . . . [it was] so frustrating not being able to pick and choose where you went to play. The first step on the ladder was to get back and put myself in a position where I can get into events I want to be in and start making some noise in some of the bigger tournaments.”

In truth, the exemption is the true big deal for someone aspiring to continue an upward move: having started the year ranked 429th in the world, and slipped to 463rd after the Puntacana tournament in March, Power’s form – which had seen him fire into life with a tied-ninth at the Byron Nelson and then successive tied-eighth finishes at the Rocket Mortgages and John Deere immediately ahead of the Barbasol win – has seen him currently lie in 116th position on the official world rankings.

For Power, the maths going forward is straight forward. The top-125 on the FedEx Cup standings get into the Northern Trust; the top-70 after the Northern Trust get into the BMW Championship; and the top-30 after the Northern Trust get into the Tour Championship.

Little momentum

“There’s a lot of perks for getting to the BMW and a lot of perks for getting to the Tour Championship, it opens up a lot of doors for getting into tournaments next year. That’s the goal, to get to the Tour Championship. I hope to get a little momentum in the Wyndham going into Liberty National where the points really go up. I’ll have to play well in the Northern Trust and the BMW to get there, but that’s the goal. That’s where you want to be, East Lake. It would change my next season.”

Power’s win in the Barbasol has got him into next year’s USPGA Championship but not into the US Masters, the US Open or the 150th British Open at St Andrews. Getting to East Lake would tick those boxes.

“It [the win] gets me closer to the top tier, it’s a nice stepping stone. I’ve always believed that’s where I want to play, and that’s where I’m going to play. There’s a lot more work to be done but hopefully I’m going to get there. That’s where you want to be, and that’s why you’ve got to get another win, to get in contention again, to climb the world rankings, the FedEx Cup rankings and make all those things possible.”

Having celebrated his win at home, flying back on the corporate jet of one of his main sponsors, appropriately enough called Power (a home remodelling company based in Philadelphia who liked the tie-up with his surname and who have backed him since 2016), the player resumes tournament play at the Wyndham, “on a course I really like”.

“My game is in a sport where – things have to go your way obviously – but I’m very confident that I’m going to be right in contention multiple times coming up soon, so that’s where you want to be!”

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