Behind every successful pro golfer lies a dream to be the best. That is why we practice day in and day out, in search of the perfect swing, and have made that five footer to win the Open a thousand times.
As the popularity of golf has increased over the past decade, so have the number of players harboring this dream. With the number of exempt playing spots on the PGA Tour very limited, various minitours throughout the US offer players a chance to compete if they were unsuccessful in the PGA Tour Qualifying School.
Although these mini tours offer stiff competition, unfortunately they award very little prize money. Thus, it is hard for players to cover expenses, and continue to work toward their dream of playing on the big Tour. In an effort to boost their earnings, many young players have chosen to spend their winters in search of larger purses on the Asian Tour. Golf in the SouthWest
At age 24, after two unsuccessful attempts to complete PGA Tour Qualifying School, former SMU All-American Christian Chernock is in his second exempt year on the Asian Tour. Chernock, a Connecticut native, was eager to pursue the higher prize money in Asia during the 1996 season. Although Chernock spent one semester during college touring the world through a “Semester at Sea” program, he was unprepared for the challenges that would plague him in Asia in 1996.
His best finish was thirteenth at the Indonesian Open, and he was sidelined with an illness at the Indian open. Despite his illness and limited success, Chernock decided to try the Asian Tour again after missing the third stage of PGA Tour School by a mere two shots.
Although having to return to qualifying school in Asia, 1997 proved to be an altogether different year than 1996. Chernock traveled to Asia in better shape that last year, and found success early. After crawling up the leader board at the Benson & Hedges Malaysian Open, he suffered a disappointing Sunday round of 79.
Not to be deterred, Chernock came back the next week, in the Thailand Open, and fired rounds of 70, 66, 68 that once again put his name on the leaderboard. This time, however, he didn’t fold. A final round 64, which included seven birdies, one bogey, and one eagle led Chernock to a one shot victory.
With this victory, he earned $50,010, a two year exemption on the Asian Tour, two year exemption into the Sarazen World Open, and exemptions into several other large tournaments in Asia. Although the money will allow Chernock to continue playing without a sponsor for a little while longer, he claims that “the greatest part about winning this tournament was not the money or the exemptions into the Sarazen, but calling my father that night and calling my teacher Hank Haney.”
Considering the experience Chernock had in 1996, it’s a true credit to his character that he returned to Asia in 1997. Players on the Asian Tour do not exactly enjoy a life of luxury. Most players play the first seven events on the Asian Tour, which begins with a qualifying tournament in early February, and concludes with the Indian Open in April, without a break to return to the US to visit their families.
They get used to waking up between four and five AM to endure a difficult one hour bus ride, complete with horrendous traffic and exhaust fumes, to arrive at the course shortly before their tee time. Tee times begin as early as 6:30, which often makes it difficult for a player to eat breakfast before his round. There are no courtesy cars, no free breakfast buffets, and often no free practice balls. Unfortunately, many of the host courses are looking to make money off of the pro’s, just as the pro’s are trying to make money for themselves and their families.
As we have seen with Christian Chernock, however, success on the Asian Tour will do more for a young player than fatten his wallet. Overcoming obstacles are one of the keys to success on the PGA Tour, and in life. Chernock credits support from his father, and Dallas teaching professional Hank Haney, with whom he has worked for four years, for his recent success. Chernock suggests that juniors interested in playing competitively find a teacher that takes an interest in your life as well as your golf game, and helps you through the highs and lows that are inevitable in golf.
The road to success on the PGA Tour is not always as smooth as glass. Players often encounter a few bumps, and some even run over a nail or two. But, with determination and strength of character, two qualities that are always present in young Dallas pro Christian Chernock, there will undoubtedly be success not only on the links, but also in the game of life.