To say he cut it close would be a major understatement.
Power, a former East Tennessee State golfer, retained his spot on the big tour with no room to spare when the season ended this week. After a successful rookie season left him just short of retaining his playing privileges, he earned his way back via the Web.com Tour playoffs, and he did it by claiming the final spot available.
“It’s probably a feeling of relief more than anything, knowing I have another opportunity to get back there,” Power said Wednesday night from Napa, California, where he is playing in the season-opening Safeway Open. “It turned to excitement when I got to Napa, but it was definitely more relief before that. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs.”
During his rookie season , Power came close to making the FedEx Cup playoffs, finishing 130th on the points list. He was in the hunt until his final event.
The top 125 made the playoffs and automatically qualified for the PGA Tour for next season.
Power wasn’t out of options, though. Players who finished 126th through 200th qualified for the Web.com Tour playoffs. That’s a four-tournament series that awards PGA Tour playing privileges to the 25 players accumulating the most money.
Those 25 would join the top 25 from Web.com Tour’s season money list on the PGA Tour.
Power was in good shape halfway through the playoffs, and when the series was over — after a rain-delayed Monday finish — he was left in 25th place, grabbing the last spot.
He would have had “conditional status” on the tour, but now he’ll get into more events and have a chance to build on a season in which he earned $646,180 — $683,830 if you count the Web.com playoffs payout.
“The last couple of weeks I was almost playing like I was looking over my shoulder, which isn’t what you want,” Power said. “You have to keep playing your best knowing one shot can make a difference.
“I was a little disappointed when I missed the top 125, but to get back is great.”
In his first year playing among the world’s best golfers, Power proved he belonged. He played 25 events and made 19 cuts. He finished in the top 10 once, but found his name high up on the leaderboard from time to time, something he’d like to see more of.
“It wasn’t bad,” he said. “There were a couple of rounds I’d like to have over. I was in contention a couple of times. I’m trying to get myself in contention a little more and have some good Sundays.”
Power ranked 12th on the PGA Tour in scrambling and averaged 298.1 yards with his driver, including 26 drives of more than 320 yards. He ranked 53rd on tour in driving distance.
His second year on the big tour began inauspiciously. When he arrived in California on Tuesday, his clubs didn’t. When they finally showed up six hours after he landed, he was on his way.
Three days after last season ended, next season begins.
“There’s no down time,” said Power, who represented Ireland in the Rio Olympics. “That’s part of the deal. I’d rather come to Napa than not. I’m excited to be back.”