Sydney’s Harrison Endycott is bracing for life as a PGA Tour rookie. His path to get there was one of determination, sadness and more than a bit of self-reflection.
In the week after Harrison Endycott secured promotion to the PGA Tour from its feeder circuit, the Korn Ferry Tour, professional golf changed forever. A number of its biggest stars, including Endycott’s fellow Australians Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman, signed with LIV Golf.
There’s no denying it’s unfortunate that Endycott won’t be able to pick the brains of world No.2 and reigning Open champion Smith, or six-time PGA Tour winner Leishman, during practice rounds at some of the courses the two Aussie stars have triumphed on. But in many ways, Endycott couldn’t have picked a better time to graduate – plus he will still have Australian stars like 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott to lean on.
The biggest bonus to pro golf’s divide came when the PGA Tour, during its season-ending Tour Championship in August, announced that all rookies in the 2022-2023 season will be given $US500,000 up front to pay for the exorbitant expenses required to travel and perform on golf’s biggest stage. The $500,000 is a guaranteed league minimum up front against their season earnings. Once Endycott, and other rookies, surpass $500,000 in season earnings, additional earnings will be accrued. If a player does not reach $500,000 in a season, he keeps the difference.
It’s a weight off the shoulders and a reward for an outstanding Korn Ferry season for Endycott, who moved from Sydney to Arizona several years ago to give the PGA Tour a proper crack. Endycott secured his first professional victory at the Korn Ferry’s Huntsville Championship in May, and then had to remain inside the top 25 points earners when the regular season concluded in August. A tie for fifth at the Utah Championship put him in pole position, and then a tie for 55th in his next event, the Pinnacle Bank Championship in Nebraska, meant he finished the regular season 21st on the points list.
The emotion came flowing out of Endycott, fuelled by the tragedy of losing his mother, Dianne, to cancer when Endycott was just 15. The Endycotts, including father Brian, ran a café in the northern Sydney suburb of Hornsby called Thyme Square. They worked hard to finance their son’s incredible junior and amateur career, so it was fitting that Brian was in Nebraska when his boy secured a dream promotion to the big leagues.
Endycott sat down with Australian Golf Digest to share his thoughts on his journey, in his words.
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Securing my PGA Tour card was truly a dream come true. It was not an easy Korn Ferry Tour season, that’s for sure. But I ground it out and got it done, ticking off a few milestones along the way. Getting your first professional win is the hardest, I feel. On the Korn Ferry, a win puts you in a different league to the other players in that you’re now within reach of a PGA Tour card. So, I tried not to get too excited about the potential of graduating. As cliché as it sounds, I just kept working on all the one-percenters. That’s all I could control. To then play well in Utah was an amazing feeling, and my dad was over from Australia to celebrate with me.
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The emotion came out of me in Nebraska. This game at the professional level is so competitive. It is so hard to get to this point and you put so much effort into it. You always see yourself getting to this point, but you never picture the timing of it. It was a long time in the making; dealing with disappointments, highs and lows. To have my dad there to experience that journey with me was so special. Growing up as a junior golfer, I just couldn’t have pictured the way it all unfolded.
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I’ve had lots of tough times, both on and off the course. There were lots of times when I wondered if pro golf was for me, like when I lost my card on the Korn Ferry Tour this time last year [Endycott missed 15 cuts from 35 Korn Ferry events] and I wasn’t playing the playoff events. I called my coach [Australian Ben Paterson] and I was wondering, Do I want to keep doing this or not? I struggled. I struggled really hard with a few things off the golf course. I needed to seek some help. I needed to reach out [to a life coach] and got some professional help.
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I never got to deal with myself when my Mum passed away. It’s kind of like, you grieve as a family, but then you learn very quickly to get on with life. But if you haven’t dealt with those things to help you become a better individual, it just bottles up and, for me, it showed on the golf course. As a team, that was our first step at the start of this year. I had to get my life together. You need to find some inner peace within yourself. That’s what I did and that was the source of the emotion in Omaha. I realised how hard this whole journey has been.
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The Korn Ferry Tour does a great job of preparing you for the pressure of the PGA Tour. First of all, as an Aussie on the Korn Ferry, you pack up everything and start a new life – but it’s expensive and if you’re not playing well, it gets tough. That builds character. On the Korn Ferry, you could shoot 20-under and not win. But on the PGA Tour, the guy who shoots a similar score makes hundreds of thousands of dollars that week. It’s a huge test to stay patient.
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My goal for my rookie season is I’d love to be PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. I think that’s a realistic goal. You look at some of the best players in the world and they’ve all achieved that. [This past season, Rookie of the Year Cameron Young had seven top-threes, including a second at The Open behind Smith.] I’ll have to play some seriously good golf out there.
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My PGA Tour profile says that if I wasn’t a professional golfer, I’d be a small business owner. I think if I stayed in Australia, I’d be a café owner. Growing up, my mum and dad had a café for years. Now that I live in the US, I think I’d be in the military. I love the military. But I’m glad to be a professional golfer and now, I’m a pro golfer on the PGA Tour.