Want to feel old? On June 2nd, former PGA Tour player Ty Tryon turned 32 years old. William Augustus Tryon IV was nicknamed “Ty” after Ty Webb from Caddyshack. Ty seemed destined for stardom when legendary swing instructor David Leadbetter was quoted as saying Ty would be “the PGA Tour’s next star.”
After making the cut in the 2001 Honda Classic as a 16-year-old, Ty promptly turned professional and headed to the vaunted PGA Tour Qualifying School that fall. After breezing through eight rounds of qualifying at the first and second stages, Ty advanced to the brutal final stage - six rounds of pressure packed golf. The 16-year-old finished T23rd, earning him a full exemption on the PGA Tour. Tryon became the youngest player to ever earn exempt status on Tour and sponsors flocked to what seemed like the next Tiger Woods. The future star signed a multi-million-dollar endorsement deal with Callaway Golf and set out to become one of the tour’s elite players.
Well, being a teenager is tough and being one on Tour is even tougher. In his rookie season of 2002, the high schooler caught a nasty case of mononucleosis, which cut his rookie season short. Tryon only made one cut in his seven starts.
In 2003, Tryon used the medical exemption he earned from his illness. Yet again, he found little success earning a dismal $125,875 to put him at 196th on the money list and a ticket to the Nationwide Tour. In his 27 starts as an official PGA Tour member, Tryon made just 6 cuts, with his top finish at t10th at the 2003 Bay Hill Invitational.
Tryon headed to the Nationwide Tour for the 2004 season looking to finish in the top 25 and earn back his Tour card. Deflated and searching for the confidence he possessed as a 16-year-old, Tryon struggled mightily, making the cut in just six of his 22 starts. He only took home a grand total of $9,054 on the season. Tryon’s lack of earnings ensured the once prodigy a ticket to professional golfer purgatory, the mini-tour circuit.
Tyron’s life after tour status has seen only a few flashes of brilliance. In 2005, Tryon won his first professional tournament, the Hooters Tour Winter Series Event, earning him $11,000, which was more than he had made the entire 2004 season on the Nationwide Tour. In 2008, he Monday qualified for the Web.com Tour’s Fort Smith Classic and finished T37. In 2010, he qualified for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by shooting 64-74 at sectional qualifying and even made the cut at the big event, finishing in a tie for 80th at 23 over par. He again qualified for the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, but missed the cut by firing rounds of 84-73. Since then, he’s been seen on the Gateway Tour in Scottsdale and Monday qualifiers in Florida. As far as I was able to track down, his last professional win came at the Florida Professional Golf Tour’s 2011 2-Man Best Ball Team Championship, netting him a whopping $1,800.00.
Tryon currently resides in Florida with his wife and child. He is still chasing the dream and the game that earned him his tour card in 2001 at the ripe age of 16.
The PGA Tour learned a valuable lesson with Ty Tryon and raised the minimum age of entry to 18. As good as he was, Ty perhaps needed to live a little more life in order to taste the true value of success. One could equate it to winning the lottery after being on welfare. Nowhere to go but down.
Until next time…