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NORTON, Massachusetts – Jon Curran is a Hopkinton native who, just two years ago, almost won a PGA Tour event. During that 2016 season, he earned nearly $2 million in 30 Tour starts and was ranked among the top 100 golfers in the world.
This year, Curran finds himself in a different position but one that he sees as the latest challenge in his professional golf career. Curran – as of the start of last week – currently ranks 826th in the world – is looking for a resurgence through the rest of 2018 so that he can maintain his fully exempt Tour status.
In the May 7th issue of Global Golf Post New England, Mike Cullity takes a look at Curran’s career and the latest opportunity facing the 31-year-old Bay State Native. Read below.
NEW ENGLAND By Mike Cullity
Professional golf can be a roller-coaster ride characterized by thrilling highs and harrowing dips.At the moment, Jon Curran is experiencing one of those dips.
In 2016, Curran almost won a PGA Tour event, earned nearly $2 million in 30 Tour starts and was ranked among the top 100 golfers in the world.
This season, the 31-year-old Massachusetts native has missed the cut in all 12 tournaments he has entered and hasn’t earned a dime. Ranked 826th in the world at the start of last week, he faces the prospect of losing his fully exempt Tour status unless he
turns things around drastically.
Curran’s latest disappointment came two weeks ago at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, where he and Keegan Bradley, his friend and former teammate at Hopkinton High School, missed the cut by a stroke in the two-man tournament. The week before, Curran was among the early leaders after an opening 69 in blustery conditions at the Valero Texas Open, only to wash out with an 80 in Round 2.
“I’ve been playing pretty good golf. It’s just I’m on a bit of a weird streak,” Curran said in a phone interview after the first round in New Orleans. “I’m putting great, I’m hitting my driver really well. My head is really, really good. I feel like … good results are right around the corner.”
In his first two Tour seasons, Curran had his share of success. As a rookie in 2015, he posted five top-10 finishes – including a runner-up after losing in a five-way playoff at the Puerto Rico Open – and earned more than $1 million. The following season, he shot 15-under par in the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio – bettering an all-star cast of competitors that included Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day – before falling in a playoff to William McGirt. He advanced to the third FedEx Cup playoff event and banked $1.9 million.
In addition, Curran and Bradley notched back-to-back victories in 2015 and ’16 at the CVS Health Charity Classic, the two-day summer benefit at Rhode Island Country Club hosted by Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade that featured top PGA Tour and LPGA pros competing in pairs.
Through 12 of those starts, Curran has nothing to show for his efforts, and retaining his fully exempt status will require a significant reversal. A victory in a typical PGA Tour event is worth 500 points, second place 300 points and 10th place 75 points.
In other words, simply making a few cuts and posting middle-of-the-pack finishes won’t cut it.
Facing a formidable challenge, Curran is taking a business-as-usual approach.
“I’m basically just choosing the events I normally would play,” he said. “I’m not going to add any events that I haven’t played in a couple of years or anything like that. I’m basically just treating it like I have a normal Tour card.”
Curran is in the midst of a four-week break and hopes to secure a sponsor exemption to compete at the Memorial, an invitational tournament that starts May 31. In June, he plans to play the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn., and the Travelers Championship outside Hartford, Conn.
Though his task is daunting, Curran is no stranger to surmounting adversity. In early 2012, when he was playing mini-tours, his father, Peter, died after battling melanoma.
Shortly after, Curran developed tendinitis in his right wrist that kept him out for much of the season. But in 2013, he won three times on the NGA Tour and earned his Web.com Tour card at Q-School, launching his ascent to the big leagues.
While seeking to reverse his current trend, Curran has conferred with Greg Cartin, a Boston-based sports performance consultant with whom he began working in his minitour days.
“Slumps are something we create,” Cartin said. “All we’re doing is comparing what we’re doing in this moment to things that have already happened. … The more he starts to look at the last year and say, ‘Wow, I haven’t made any cuts, I’m doomed for the nextone,’ it’s only going to make things worse.
“Viewing each opportunity as brand new, as if everything that led up to it has no bearing on how he does, is the best way to go forward.”
Amid his struggles, Curran also has been adjusting to fatherhood – his wife, Valerie,gave birth to their son, Peter, in January. And it’s no stretch to suggest that personal transitions can influence performance, according to Cartin.
“I think sometimes we forget that life events also need our attention and focus, too,” Cartin said. “When you go from someone who’s been so in love with golf his whole life, that’s all hedid, to now having a wife and having a baby and having responsibilities, there can be a little bit of a learning curve.”
Short of retaining fully exempt Tour status, there are other benchmarks Curran can attain to maintain playing options. Earning 209 FedEx Cup points – and thereby equaling the 150th-place finisher in last season’s standings with his combined total – would earn him lower-priority status for the rest of the season. And a mere 22 points would draw him equal with last season’s 200th-place finisher, ensuring him a place in the Web.com Tour Finals and a chance to regain fully exempt PGA Tour status for next season.
For now, however, Curran isn’t dwelling on the future.
“I’ll figure it out when I have to figure it out,” he said.