Brennan Webb kind of figured his playing career was over when he lost his Nationwide Tour card last year, but the former East Tennessee State golfer still hoped he wasn’t finished with the game he loves.
As it turns out, he wasn’t. But it was a close call.
Just as the 36-year-old Webb was about to embark on a financial-planning career in Tampa, Fla., a golden opportunity appeared almost in his own backyard. Webb was hired as assistant golf coach at South Florida.
“It was phenomenal,” he said. “Everything kind of just came together for what I was trying to accomplish and what they were trying to accomplish.”
When Webb began to think about getting into coaching, he realized moving would most likely be part of the equation. He’d have to sell his house, and his wife would have to find a new job. With a young daughter at home, it just didn’t seem feasible.
Then he found out about the South Florida job. After a long day of interviewing, he was offered the spot as assistant to second-year head coach Chris Malloy.
“The whole process was quick,” Webb said.
Webb said his passion for playing the game for a living waned a bit last year when he failed to keep his card and didn’t earn it back in the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament.
“The closer I got to calling it quits and getting into financial planning, I just realized every decision in my life had been based on my love for golf and my passion I have for the game,” he said. “I made a lot of sacrifices for my entire life for it. I just wasn’t ready to give it up yet.”
After spending years watching his dad work as a club pro in Canada, Webb decided that wasn’t for him. He caddied a bit on Tour and figured the travel involved in that was as much as when he was playing.
Something had to keep him involved with the game. That something, it turned out, is coaching.
At South Florida,Webb is involved in a program on the rise. Malloy’s first recruiting class consisted of two players, and the two freshmen both shot nine under par at their first tournament.
South Florida is building a new practice facility for the golf team, In fact, six of the school’s sports programs have received new facilities in the past 18 months.
“They’ve made a commitment,” Webb said.
After spending years on the road while playing on various tours, Webb seems happy to have found a job so close to home.
“It’s a 15-minute drive and I don’t even have to get on the highway,” he said.
n The Blackthorn Club at the Ridges will be the site of the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate next weekend. The 54-hole tournament begins Friday and runs through Sunday.
n The Tri-Cities Cup matches are set for Friday at Link Hills Country Club in Greeneville.
A team of local amateurs will take on club professionals in a one-day Ryder Cup-like event.
n Former ETSU golfer Garrett Willis is making a move this weekend toward retaining his PGA Tour card.
Willis moved into contention in the Frys.com Open. He came into the event ranked 138th on the money list with $439,490. The top 125 keep their cards, so a couple of good weeks could go a long way in securing his playing privileges for next year.
Willis won the 2001 Tucson Open, becoming the fourth player in PGA Tour history to win his first event as a member of the tour.
n Another former ETSU player, Rhys Davies, won’t have any trouble keeping his card. Although Davies has struggled at times on the European Tour this year, he’s still managed to rank 51st in the Race to Dubai with $571,000. He finished last year ranked 18th.
n Elliott Saltman might have some trouble checking his luggage at the airport today when he flies from Spain to his home in Scotland.
Saltman made a hole-in-one during the second round of the Madrid Masters. His prize? His weight in ham.
The world’s 686th-ranked player said he’d been trying to lose weight, but he was glad he was still carrying a few extra pounds.
Based on his weight in the European Tour’s media guide, Saltman’s prize will be 238 pounds of ham.