Wesley Bryan couldn’t even imagine it.
Last year, Bryan was making trick-shot golf videos on YouTube with his brother and occasionally competing in tournaments. He wasn’t putting in enough practice, and he surely wasn’t doing enough to climb up the golf ladder.
It wasn’t where Bryan wanted to be. He wanted to be on the PGA Tour, where every golfers’ dream lies. But with a wife in school, he had to find a way to put food on the table, he said.
Last July, Bryan called his manager and brother and told them to clear the schedule.
Never miss a local story.
He was going to chase the dream
“I just said, ‘It’s starts now,’” Bryan said. “‘I’m going to make it (to the PGA Tour) this year. I’m done with all this dilly-dallying around.’”
On Sunday, that dream came true.
Bryan won the Web.com Tour’s Digital Ally Open at the Nicklaus Golf Course at Lionsgate in Overland Park, carding a 4-under 67 for an overall score of 20-under 264. Bryan beat JT Poston and Grayson Murray in a three-player playoff.
It was his third victory this season on the Web.com Tour — a developmental league for the PGA Tour — giving him a automatic and immediate promotion to the PGA Tour.. He is just the 11th player in history to accomplish the feat.
Last July, Bryan had set a goal to finish among the top-25 money leaders of the Web.com Tour. That would have given him a PGA Tour card, but wouldn’t render him fully exempt on the tour.
A three-win promotion guarantees him a spot on every PGA Tour invitational next season, except for majors.
“It was just amazing to think that I won another golf tournament. I mean, one is just crazy and two is even crazier,” Bryan said. “That was not even in the realm of what I thought could be accomplished.”
The latest victory was anything but easy.
Bryan vaulted himself into the lead in the third round Saturday, shooting a 6-under 65. At 16-under for the tournament, he was grouped with Poston and Murray in the lead group Sunday, who both sat at 15-under.
Bryan came out hot on Sunday. He birdied the first two holes and continued to coast until the par-3 8th hole.
Murray and Poston followed closely behind Bryan. Murray, who struggled out of the gate, had a hole-in-one on the 8th hole, which earned him a car and a 2-stroke lead.
Murray promptly caught fire and jumped ahead by 3 strokes.
But Bryan didn’t lose focus. He slowly crawled his way back, earning four birdies on the back nine, and found himself tied with Poston and Murray going into the final hole.
On the 18th, all three missed their birdie putts, sending the tournament into a three-way playoff.
Bryan was ready. It was only two weeks ago, at the Lincoln Land Charity Championship in Springfield, Ill., that he finished second, just missing the three-win promotion. And earlier this season, he was in position to win on the final day multiple times, only to fall short.
“I hadn’t been in a playoff yet this year, but I felt like I had a little more experience under the gun than those guys,” Bryan said. “But they fought really hard all the way to the end.”
The experience under pressure showed.
Bryan followed a perfect drive with a similarly-perfect chip shot that landed about five feet from the 18th hole, where the playoff started. There would be no mistakes this time from the other two players: All three calmly sank their birdie putts, moving the playoff to a second hole.
That’s when Bryan made the “best shot of his life.”
On the par-3 17th hole, he sent the ball about 3 feet past the pin.
“When it was flying in the air, it looked so good,” Bryan said. “And to see it land and hear the crowd cheer, it was amazing.”
Bryan’s next shot was a shoo-in putt, but it was unlike any shot he’d ever made. The other two players had already missed their chance to keep up, and after the ball dropped, his career was catapulted to the next level.
He flipped off his hat in relief and looked to the sky. He hugged his wife and gave her a kiss.
Bryan isn’t sure where his next tournament will be. He still wants to complete the season as the Web.com Tour’s money leader, giving him full status on the PGA Tour next season. On the other hand, he can get a head start on his PGA Tour career at the John Deere Classic next week in Silvis, Ill.
But one thing he is sure about is his life is in a lot better position than it was last year.
“It’s just something that I wouldn’t have thought possible,” Bryan said.