As shocking as it may seem to most, Canadian Dustin Risdon is in no rush to get to the PGA Tour.
The big boys, the big paydays, they can wait. Well, for a year anyway.
Don’t rub your eyes. You read that right.
All things being equal, Risdon – who is currently battling to get into the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list to make the jump to the PGA Tour for 2010 – admits he will be just as content to finish outside the top 25 and return to the Nationwide ranks once the spring rolls around.
“To be honest, that’s my goal right now,” says Risdon when asked about another year on the PGA Tour’s premier feeder loop. “In my mind, I’m not sure if I am quite ready for that (PGA Tour) after only a year out here. Another year on the Nationwide is probably for the best. I know I’ll get out there one day, I’m just not sure if I’m ready just yet.”
So, let’s get this right, just in case we have too much wax built up inside the ears. Dustin Risdon, after years of slugging it out on the Canadian Tour, would rather stay on the Nationwide circuit for another go-round instead of the five-star lifestyle on the PGA Tour?
“I think so,” he says, just in case we didn’t hear him right the first time. “My game just isn’t up to par right now to get out there and stay there. I’ve been in contention a few times this year but I just haven’t been able to cash in. That tells me there are a few things I still have to work on.”
As far as freshman seasons go, you could do a lot worse than the first-year show Risdon has put on. Kicking into the stretch drive of the Nationwide campaign, the 28-year-old from Strathmore, Alb. – prior to this week’s WNB Golf Classic – had made a cheque in 16 of 22 starts with seven showings inside the top 25, including three top tens.
With earnings less than a hundred bucks shy of $130,o00, Risdon was about $5,000 off 25th spot – and the number needed to earn a PGA Tour card.
On the heels of his second Canadian Tour triumph last summer at the ATB Financial Classic, Risdon finally cleared the second-stage hurdle at Q-School and locked up Nationwide tour status.
Second stage had been a bit of an albatross for Risdon - at least until last November.
“Second stage is the hardest tournament of the year, so it was a big relief getting through,” admits Risdon of the second stage wall he had run into in previous years. “My goal at finals was to get full status on the Nationwide and anything else was just a bonus. But there was still a lot of pressure.”
Prior to this season, Risdon had limited experience playing in PGA and Nationwide events and was, for most of the decade, taking his full-time cuts on the Canadian Tour. Suddenly, there was a new challenge, being thrown into the Nationwide pen with other hungry lions all licking their chops at a chance at fame and fortune on the PGA Tour.
The step up in class caught Risdon off guard at first.
“It was a little intimidating at the beginning, for sure,” he admits. “Even when I qualified for events in the past, I almost felt like I didn’t belong. But for my first event this year I went out, looked around and said to myself ‘What am I afraid of? I’m a member of this tour now.’ I’m good enough to be out here.”
And he’s not wasting any time earning his keep.
Now just one step from realizing his dream – whether it is next year or a couple of seasons down the road – Risdon is quick to remember where he came from, crediting Canadian Tour Commissioner Rick Janes and Deputy Director Dan Halldorson with helping him make the jump. Janes and Halldorson, a two-time PGA Tour and World Cup champion who has his plaque hanging in the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, are widely respected for far more than what they do in the boardroom. Both tend to take players under their wings and prepare them for what life will be like once they fly the Canadian Tour coop.
“That’s awesome the way they took care of us,” admits Risdon, who is quick to credit sponsors ATB and Sundance Services with bankrolling his chase for the PGA Tour. “Dan and Mr. Janes were both a great help getting me out here. Even a few times when I’ve had some questions out here, I’ve called Dan and he’s been there as always. It means a lot and is something I will always remember.”
For now, Risdon is going to be giving a little help of his own, offering to caddy for fellow Canadian Kent Eger at the opening stage of Q-School. The way things are shaping up, Risdon is going to get a free pass straight to the third and final qualifying phase.
Now he’s set to help a brother out.
“Ege’s has one of those smaller carry bags, so it shouldn’t be too bad,” laughs Risdon. “I wouldn’t be hauling a huge tour bag, that’s for sure. I don’t know how my caddy carries mine around. I have a hard time carrying it from the hotel to the car.”
If that is the biggest problem Risdon faces on his road to the PGA Tour, he’s not going to have an awful lot to worry about.
More articles by Marty Henwood