Rookie Diary: Close Calls With Davis Bryant

First-year Pro Davis Bryant Reflects on Mistakes and Growth as a Golfer

By Jim Bebbington

Every golfer misses some goal by one stroke. It happens all the time.

But what about when you’re trying to make a living at the game? Imagine those moments: the slightly duffed chip, the drive that went wide, the missed putt.

When golf is your job, you have two choices in those kinds of situations: let them all fester and eat you up, or else let them go and move on. All of them. That’s what Aurora rookie professional golfer Davis Bryant says he learned long ago as a high-achieving high school and college player. Now in his first year as a pro, this is a lesson he comes back to often.

“Sports is a funny thing – you could play the coulda shoulda woulda (all the time),” Bryant said this month after a string of near-misses at PGA Tour pre-qualifiers. “I try to not think about that at all. If that would have happened who knows what the next eight holes would have turned into? It’s just really going to beat you down mentally.”

At the same time,  players have to analyze their performance clinically a lot. If they don’t, they may focus on the wrong things in practice or not make progress. “You can’t shy away from it,” he says. “I think you have to honestly and truthfully evaluate how the round goes and have honest criticism with yourself.”

The rule came in handy for Bryant several times as he waded through his third month as a professional golfer. On March 20, Bryant played in a pre-qualifier for the PGA Tour’s Houston Open. The event was held during the first round of the All Pro Tour’s Coke Dr. Pepper Open – Links on the Bayou tournament in Alexandria, La.

Photo courtesy All Pro Tour

If he had shot two strokes better (a 64 instead of 66) he would have moved onto the Monday qualifying tournament, with the top finishers there making the field for the Houston Open.

Pre-qualifiers and Monday qualifiers for the PGA Tour events incentivize aggressiveness. It doesn’t matter if you miss qualifying by one stroke or 10 – you still didn’t make it. So the events seem to breed a mentality that makes everyone try to go really low. The whole process is a little confusing – do well in a pre-qualifier and move on to the qualifier. Do well there, play in the PGA tournament.

Davis Bryant after his first hole-in-one as a professional

At the Louisiana event, Bryant shot six birdies, finishing the round with birdies on four of the final six holes. This is good golf. But not good enough.

Then March 27 Bryant tried again, playing in the Valero Texas Open pre-qualifier at Koasati Pines at Coushatta in Kinder, La. Davis again finished two strokes off the line, shooting a 2-under 70. Colorado State golf team alumni AJ Ott of Fort Collins also played, and won – shooting a 65, moving on to the Monday qualifier.

Ott, who is in his third season as a pro, then shot a 72 in the Monday qualifier, finishing T30, and did not make the tournament. That was only four shots back from the cutline. Of the four players who did qualify, three missed the cut in the actual tournament. Only one, Peter Kuest of Utah, made it to the weekend and finished T10. He earned $223,100.

“Regardless of what the round is for or what type of importance it is I try to play it the same way,” Bryant said. “The first couple of times (he was in this situation as a pro) was nerves, I didn’t know what it would feel like. It’s just different – you’re trying to make money and you’re trying to put yourself into a position for success.

Photo courtesy All Pro Tour

“Some days you’re going to feel great. You’re going to fire at every pin. Other days you might feel more uptight or concerned about the conditions,” he said.

The weeks to come include some big steps. He is eyeing a qualifier for the PGA Tour Canada series, which if he were to qualify would enable him to play 10 tournaments up north from June to September.

Editor’s Note: All year we are following the professional golf rookie season of Aurora native Davis Bryant. Read past coverage right here at


Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram