An overnight sensation after years of trying to make it in the big time, Séamus Power’s journey has suddenly become a lot smoother: the 34-year-old Waterford man’s reward for a breakthrough win on the PGA Tour, in lifting the Barbasol Championship, goes far beyond the $630,000 pay cheque.
For starters there’s the two-year exemption on tour until the end of 2023; and direct entry into The Players and the US PGA Championship next year. He is also in the limited field for next year’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, confined solely to winners of the previous season.
Unfortunately it didn’t bring with it an exemption into the Masters but, in jumping from 210th to 113th in the updated world rankings, Power has edged closer to getting to Augusta via those rankings where the top-50 at year’s end and again in the week ahead of the tournament get prized tickets. Still a bit to go, but he has come so far that he can put it down as a new goal.
Power showed steel and fortitude in overcoming JT Poston at the sixth hole of a sudden death playoff to win his first title, the victory – in his 106th start on the PGA Tour – arriving in a hot streak of form where he had used Monday qualifying and top-10 finishes to get an extended run of events which would have been otherwise beyond him due to his tour card category. In one glorious result he no longer has to take the byroads; he can take the direct route, with his new status enabling him to map out a schedule of his own.
Yet behind it all there remains the same man who has been playing golf for the love of it all.
As he put it following his win, “I view myself as extremely lucky. I’m 34 and I’ve yet to work a day in my life. So every time I get to play a tournament or play an extra year on tour, to me it’s a massive bonus. I love playing golf, it’s my favourite thing to do. . . . if you look around the world, we’re very, very fortunate. I think if you can just keep that in perspective.
“It’s easy sometimes to get that into comparing mode, compare yourself to other guys who have won tournaments and this and that. You’ve just got to be happy for people who have put in the work and it’s paid off, and thankfully this week it was me.
“Even if I didn’t win my attitude is I still would try to be very much on the positive side. It’s still golf. I still get a cheque for playing golf and I don’t have to work in an office from 9 to 5, so I’m very, very lucky.”
Perhaps Power has made his own luck through hard graft and perseverance. His journey has taken him through the eGolf mini tour and the Korn Ferry Tour and five years with various status on the PGA Tour to make it.
“My thought process always with golf is that if at any point I didn’t think I was good enough to win or compete at the highest level I would have stopped playing. I would have done something else.
“I felt like I’ve always been able to win on every level I’ve been on, and obviously not yet on the PGA Tour. So I felt like I could, and that belief definitely never left me.”
This win came on the back of hot form, but also after a decision to undergo elbow surgery last November and, more recently, to have a word in the ear from Dr Bob Rotella: "You're just trying to remember what he told you and just trying to keep it as simple as possible. He got me just back on the correct path. A lot of things have led me to this point, but that was a huge kind of help. Coming down the stretch in tournaments and in those pressure situations, it's absolutely huge."
Power’s win has also had the effect of propelling him up the FedEx Cup standings – from 126th to 69th – so that he can plan ahead to the lucrative playoffs and the opportunities that come with the new territory he has navigated a route to.
“[In] 2019, 2020,201 I was in the not fully exempt category and it’s tough, it’s frustrating. You want to play, you want to play more, you’re looking at guys playing in tournaments passing you and you’re looking at your FedEx number dropping and dropping and dropping. But I knew that was part of it, so it’s going to be nice to be able to make my schedule.”
FACT FILE: Seamus Power
Amateur record: Three-time Irish Youths champion (2005, 2007, 2008)
College record: East Tennessee University (five time winner on NCAA circuit 2007-2010)
Professional wins: (2): United Leasing and Finance Championship (Korn Ferry Tour) (2016); Barbasol Championship (PGA Tour) (2021).
Representative honours: Olympic Games (2016)
If not a professional golfer? An accountant..."I've always been good with numbers. Math, chemistry and physics were always my strongest subjects."
Other sporting interest: Racquetball...he played in the Junior World Championships as a 12-year-old.
Where it all started: West Waterford Golf Club. "I started down there when I was 12, 13 years old. And all of the Spratt family, it was pretty much like my second family, they're incredible. They helped me through all sorts of stuff."