The road to the PGA isn't easy. Unless you are phenomenal enough to join the PGA right out of school like Tiger Woods, you slowly work your way up in a competitive field populated with heaps of talent in a lower-tier tour, where only those who achieve consistent success are invited to take it to the next level.
Break out SDSU men's golf star J.J. Spaun became pro in 2012, and for the past four seasons he has grinded it out with countless other hopefuls on the Web.com tour. This summer, after a great season, he earned his PGA Tour card.
With dreams of playing PGA golf, Spaun competed in lesser known events, like the WinCo Foods Portland Open in Oregon. These venues are much less sexy than say, the Barclays or the Buick Invitational- but in a way they are so much more competitive.
Only 25 tour cards are granted to Web.com top money earners each year, and to qualify, players must earn at least $250,000 during the season in winnings. Spaun ranked third with $350,835 in prize earnings after 20 events. His biggest break came with a last-minute, final putt victory at the News Sentinel Open presented by Pilot on Aug. 22 in Knoxville, Tennessee. He also logged a pair of runner-up placements earlier this summer at the Air Capital Classic in Wichita, Kan., and the Utah Championships presented by Zions Bank.
A total of 19 players out of Sunday's 25 card earners will be rookies on the 2016-17 PGA Tour season, which gets underway during the week of Oct. 10-16 at the Safeway Open in Napa, California.
As a student, Spaun twice received All-America recognition by both the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) and Golfweek. He won five tournaments during his career at San Diego State, which is tied for the most in school history with Aztec Hall of Famer Lennie Clements.
Spaun had also garnered Mountain West Player of the Year accolades as a senior in 2012 and collected three consecutive all-conference certificates. He ended that season ranked 17th by Golfstat.com and 21st nationally by Golfweek after leading SDSU to its best-ever Division I team finish.
Watch for J.J. Spaun to rise up in the coming season's regular nationally televised PGA events.