Purdy has arrived
By Greg Hansen
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Every time I bump into Jim Purdy, a Tucson golf buddy who is the
older brother of former UA All-American Ted Purdy, I burden him with a
request for data from the Purdy Tour.
"He's in India," Jim Purdy would say. Or, "He's in Australia." Or
perhaps, "He just got back from Okinawa, Japan, where he won
Wherever Ted Purdy happened to be playing golf the last six or
seven years, I absorbed the updates with great imagination;
what an adventure it must be to make a living as a global golfer.
I pictured Indiana Jones in a Ping cap, stepping through
spiders and snakes while lining up a 4-foot putt. Surely he traveled by
"Ted's in Singapore," Jim Purdy advised during Tiger Woods'
incandescent run of four consecutive major championships, knowing
that Ted had once trounced Mr. Woods by six strokes at the UA's
annual tournament at Arizona National. "Here's Ted's cell phone
number if you want to call him for a quote."
Ultimately, the name Ted Purdy became the one I first checked in the
newspaper's golf scores. There was a $2,385 check at the
Nationwide Tour's Permian Basin Classic and $1,520 at the Buy.com
Tour's Mississippi Gulf Coast Open. He was so close to the Big Time.
And so far away.
Two years ago, Jim informed me that Ted was considering getting out
of the golf business, devastated by another Qualifying School failure
(one painful stroke from the PGA Tour). He was weighing an offer to
work in a Maui real estate business.
How could that be? Ted didn't turn 30 until last summer. He's got one
of the sweetest swings on this planet. And, in the last year or so, he
began to conquer the missing element of his game - putting - that had
forever prevented him from being a consistent PGA Tour money
UA golf coach Rick LaRose, a man who has created a thousand
nicknames, endearingly called Purdy "Lava Hands." It was a putting
Ted Purdy is a smart guy. He earned his UA degree in finance and
three times made the school's athletic honor roll (the Mary Roby
award). So rather than yield to the exasperating stops and starts of pro
golf, he decided to trust his game and stick with it.
He got married to a girl from Casa Grande (Arlene), had a young son
(Sammy), bought a house near his boyhood golf course in Phoenix,
Moon Valley. He was together. Suddenly, his putting improved, and
last fall he earned his way back onto the PGA Tour. (He celebrated by
purchasing season tickets to the Arizona Cardinals, but we won't hold
that against him.)
Over the weekend, Ted Purdy's golf career hit the big stage. If you want
to be pessimistic, he will probably clear no more than $275,000 of the
runner-up's check of $518,400, after taxes, blowing a five-shot lead at
the MCI Heritage Classic, losing a marathon sudden-death playoff to
But there is no pessimism about the way the Ted Purdy's career has
turned. It's all good.
After he gets past the immediate disappointment of losing the playoff,
a berth in the Mercedes Championships and possibly the Masters,
British Open and U.S. Open - and there's no way to diminish the hurt
of those lost opportunities - Purdy will surely realize how far he has
come and what he has gained.
As CBS analyst Lanny Wadkins said Sunday: "Where has this guy
been? He's got a lot of game."
Purdy has been playing competitive golf for more than two decades,
but it's as if his career began on Sunday. If one thing was
accomplished during Sunday's emotional drama, it's that Purdy has
won enough money ($688,091) to retain his Tour card for another
year. For the first time in his golfing life, he has immediate security. He
no longer has to worry about getting in a Tour event from week to
Ted Purdy is no longer "in oblivion," as CBS' Gary McCord reminded
Instead, Purdy has arrived.
"My sister, Becky, called and she was crying," Ted's brother, Jim, said
Sunday. "Pretty soon, I was crying, too." But this time they were tears of
Ted's birdie try on 16 just misses. It looked in
all the way.
The win slides by. This putt on the 72nd hole
would have won it.
Quotes from the Gallery
"The best part of the whole MCI Heritage was Ted hugging
the kid with Down Syndrome [as he walked off the 15th
green]. It was the best possible statement what Ted's
about. How many pros would just put their head down and
pass him by?"
"As far as I'm concerned, my son has the
best second shot in the business."
|--- Papa Purds, to Jim Nantz
"I followed Ted around Torrey Pines 5 years ago and the
next year in Ontario on the Buy.com Tour. He is the only
guy I have ever seen on tour to stop and thank the
volunteers working at the tourney. He would shake their
hand and say 'Thanks for helping out.'"
"I always start at the bottom of the
newspaper's box scores to see how Ted did.
These days, it sure takes me a long time to
get to his name."
"The way Ted's playing now, the victories will
start to come."
The thing I liked the best about the MCI Heritage was that it
was obvious that Ted loved being in that position, since he
was smiling and laughing the whole time. That's the Ted
that we want to see playing golf... showing that it's fun. It
was so cool and we know it's going to happen more often
now that he feels the awesome feeling that he got from it.
"Well, I remember the first place I caddied for Ted was in Burma,
where the grass isn't even like the grass we know and the local
people were busy at work just yards away from where we were
In Kuala Lumpur the monkeys kept things interesting. One of
Ted's playing partners hit a drive and when they approached the
fairway nobody could find his ball. A monkey was eating it in the
tree and he wasn't going to give it back. The poor guy had to go
back to the tee box and hit another ball, then he holed his
second shot from the fairway for par.
As for the PGA Tour, all I have to say is Day Care, Day Care,
Day Care. It's wonderful!"
"That must have been so difficult to watch. It was
heartbreaking for us! Ted had so many awesome saves,
but just couldn't finish that big clown off. We are sorry he
didn't win, but think he will be there many more times!!!
|---Lori and Ken Kavanaugh
"By now every golfer in the USA knows who Ted Purdy
is, and all about his heart and great demeanor and his
eating habits. I just hope he wasn't too disappointed. But
that paycheck probably helped a lot.
Superlatives cannot describe the poise, skill and complete
confidence Ted displayed on national television for almost
four hours [during the MCI Heritage]. Bette and I were
spellbound. What further captivated us was the media
recognition of what a great golfer and person had reached
the pinnacle of success on that beautiful Sunday afternoon in
Hilton Head. How proud we are!
"Ted did a great job all day. I was sure that it was his. Even
without winning I think that this tournament is going to be a
huge leap ahead. I am sure that he will win this year."
"I hope you have a tape of the MCI because I was so excited that I hopped
on a plane and flew out there. It was awesome to be there. Can you
believe that I went? I just thought that's what your mom would do, so it just
felt like the right thing to do. Ted didn't even know I was there, although I
called Arlene the night before to ask if she thought that I should go. She
did! I finally got a chance to give him a high-five while he was driving in the
cart on the way to the 16th tee for the first time."
"It was agonizing watching those 5 playoff holes. Me
and Mrs. D were hanging on every shot. As good
as the second-place cash is, you still wonder what
might have been had one of those putts dropped. I
thought he was nails on some of those par putts to
keep the pressure on Cink."
"Ted must be very disappointed, but he played very well.
Mary Ann got so nervous she couldn't watch."
"Ted gutted it out like a vet. He'll win, just