Martin Laird relieved at securing PGA Tour card
Having coped with the most pressure he has faced on a golf course at last week’s Disney Classic, Britain’s Martin Laird is basking in the afterglow of securing his PGA Tour card.
The rookie was one place short of earning full exemption for 2009 going into the final event of the season and his playing privileges hinged on the last seven holes at the Walt Disney World Resort in Sunday’s closing round.
Laird knew a 15-under total for the tournament would be good enough but, having reached that target with a birdie at the 10th, he stumbled with bogeys at the 12th and 16th.
“That was the most pressure I have ever felt, on the back nine last week just six or seven holes from keeping my card for next year,” the 25-year-old Scot told Reuters in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
“I knew if got in at 15 under I would be okay and I was 15 under after 11 holes before I three-putted 12 and bogeyed 16.
“I suddenly thought, ‘Oh, no’. I had checked the leaderboard and saw that 14 under was tied for sixth place.
“I knew if I had a birdie on one of the last two holes I would probably be okay. If I finished par, par I knew it would be very close. When I made that last putt on 18, it was a big relief.”
Laird rammed in an eight-footer to sign off with successive pars and a closing 71 for a 13-under total but knew his Tour card depended on finishes by players in the final groups.
“It was not a comfortable situation, it was totally out of my control,” he said. “Players were prematurely congratulating me and I had to get out of the locker room into the parking lot where I listened to the rest of the tournament on the radio.”
The one player who could have knocked Laird out of the equation was American rookie Tommy Gainey, who came agonisingly close to overhauling tournament leader Davis Love III with a blistering back nine of six-under 30.
However, Love scrambled pars on the last two holes to hold off Gainey by a shot, leaving Laird in the 125th and final money spot to secure full playing privileges for next year.
Although a highpoint of his debut PGA Tour season was three successive top-seven finishes to take him deep into the lucrative FedExCup playoffs, Arizona-based Laird takes more comfort from the way he ended his campaign.
“I made 14 of the last 15 cuts, including five in a row to finish the year knowing every single dollar counted,” he said. “I was out (of the top 125) by three guys with three weeks to go and I played my way in.
“Finishing the season the way I did means I will be taking a lot of confidence into next year,” added the Scot, who left his native Glasgow eight years ago to accept an American university golf scholarship at Colorado State.
November 12, 2008