Alex Prugh had played in six tournaments on the 2013 Web.com Tour and had five missed cuts and a tie for 52nd to show for it.
In his seventh event, the BMW Charity Pro-Am in Greer, S.C., in May, Prugh made the cut but needed a top-25 to get into the Mexico Championship the following week. On the tee box of his 18th hole on Sunday, Prugh didn’t know his position on the leaderboard but he knew it was going to be close.
“I pulled a 6-iron and was short-sided in a hazard,” the former Ferris Saxon and Washington Husky said in a phone interview. “I don’t know how the ball stayed on grass. I was standing on a rock wall, green level with the height of my eye. I hacked it out to a foot, somehow, and tapped in.
“It was definitely one of those up-and-downs you remember.”
Of his 4,306 strokes in 62 rounds this season, that chip shot might prove to be the most important. It marked the turning point in his season.
“Realistically, that was the first positive thing from earlier in the year and before you know it, it got me into a better state of mind, I was making better swings and I made some more putts,” he said. “It’s not as if I was playing bad early in the year. I was missing the cut by one or two or I was right on the bubble. I tell everybody there’s really a fine line between being good and on top of the world and struggling a little bit.”
Prugh finished tied for 23rd at the BMW. The 29-year-old tied for second in Mexico, tied for sixth at the Mid-Atlantic Championship and placed third at the Air Capital Classic. He pocketed nearly $116,000 in those three starts.
After missing two cuts, Prugh was a combined 47-under par in his next three tournaments and added three top-30 finishes. He finished the regular season with 12 consecutive under-par rounds and two more top-10s.
The Web.com’s top 25 money-winners earned PGA Tour cards. Prugh finished 11th and qualified for the Web.com Finals, a four-tournament stretch that will determine his standing on the priority list for PGA tournaments next season. Prugh tied for 32nd in the first event, the Hotel Fitness Championship featuring the Web.com’s top 75 and the PGA Tour’s Nos. 125-200 on the FedEx Cup points list. Trevor Immelman, 2008 Masters champion, won the tournament.
Prugh’s season stats are impressive. He missed the cut in the Chiquita Classic on Friday, the second stop on the finals swing, but entering the week his average drive of 309.9 yards – one drive in Utah traveled 364 yards – ranked 11th. He was third in greens in regulation at 75.6 percent. He was eighth in birdies (4.4 per round) and scoring average (69.3). His final-round scoring average of 68.18 ranked second.
Prugh’s turnaround wasn’t the product of a dramatic swing change.
“Not in the least,” said his father, Steve, the pro at Manito and essentially Alex’s swing coach. “His golf game is good, his personal life is good. He’s practicing the right things, focused on the right things and taken time off when he needed to.
“When I talk to him, he’s relaxed.”
“I just got my mind in a better place and it’s amazing what one shot or one round can do,” said Prugh, who burst onto the PGA Tour as a rookie in 2010 with top-10s in three of his first four events. “My dad knows my game and I know my game pretty dang well. It’s just a matter of getting the timing and trusting yourself. I try to be as much of a feel player as I can.”
Prugh’s goal is to perform well in the four-event finals to enhance his opportunities on the 2014 PGA Tour.
“It’ll be nice,” he said. “You know the courses (on the tour) and you’re comfortable out there and you know a bunch of the guys. Golf is a small world, whether you’re on the Web.com or PGA you still see a lot of the same guys, but there’s a level of comfort and you know what it takes to play well and succeed.”