Dan Bradbury sets long-term goal of earning a PGA Tour card ahead of Nedbank Challenge
Due to a closer alliance between the two main tours on either side of the Atlantic, the PGA Tour now offers the top 10 players on the DP World Tour, not already exempt, a card for next season.
To former competitors like Malton’s Simon Dyson, who won six times on the then European Tour, it has reduced the circuit where he forged his career to nothing more than a feeder circuit to the elite tier of the PGA Tour, as he told The Yorkshire Post earlier this year.
To current players like Bradbury, it is a huge carrot that is dangling in front of them, with more money and more world ranking points on offer in the United States.
As he comes to the end of a successful debut campaign on the DP World Tour, headlined by a blistering victory in the season-opening Joburg Open last November, the 24-year-old is starting to evaluate what is next.
There may be more to come in Bradbury’s 2023 season; he is 48th on the points list and has earned a spot in the penultimate event of the campaign at this week’s Nedbank Challenge in Sun City. If he at least consolidates a spot in the top 50 there, he secures a place at the season-ending DP World Championship in Dubai the following week.
Win either tournament and that PGA Tour card might be a possibility in 2024 as the top 10 not otherwise exempt comes down to 14th on the rankings, given, for example, the top two spots are occupied by Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm who are already on the PGA Tour.
But in the medium- to long-term, that is Bradbury’s objective - not that he will make himself a hostage to that goal.
“It’s definitely one to look at for the future,” said Bradbury, who spent five years developing his game on the US collegiate circuit at Lincoln Memorial in Tennessee and then Florida State.
“It’s probably not fully out of the question this year, I’d have to win one at least.
“To sit here and say well next year I want to be top 15, yeah that’s a great goal to try and achieve, but if you don’t achieve that and you come 30th and still make Dubai and it’s an improvement on this year - then that’s still a success.
“It’s only my second year on tour next year, so I wouldn’t want top 30, say, to feel like a failure, so I’ve got to be careful where I set my goals.
“But yes, I would love to be sitting here this time next year with a PGA Tour card.
“I’d love to live in America having spent five years out there at university, it is so far ahead in terms of practice, facilities, weather, everything.”
Bradbury has learnt plenty about himself in his first 12 months on tour, from winning on only his third start at that level to handling the new-found expectation that came with that, to understanding how best to prepare himself week to week.
“The biggest thing for me is scheduling,” said Bradbury, who secured his spot in the Nedbank with two top-15 finishes in Spain last month.
“I’ve played quite a lot, and played certain weeks where I’ve felt I should have had a week off, or I’ve missed one that maybe I could have gone to.
“I’ve taken advice off people but you’ve still got to learn it for yourself; which travel weeks are more difficult etc, because it all feeds into how well you play.
“If you’re playing a week where you don’t want to be, then you’re not going to play well.
“I’m learning all the time, and I’m looking at some of the other lads and they’ve taken an extra week off here and there and they’re playing better golf - you don’t have to play every week.
“That’s the biggest takeaway. That and to accept poor results, because everybody has them. The best players in the world miss cuts.
“I used to really hate playing bad - I still do - but it used to affect me more. Now, I accept that everybody has a bad week. You’ll see someone miss a cut and then go and win the next week. So just stay positive and accept you’re not going to play well every week.”
That mindset explains why he is not putting too much pressure on himself this week. His position of 48 on the money list with the top 50 advancing to Dubai, looks perilous if he were to have a bad week.
But Bradbury is pragmatic.
“This is a big week, there’s a few lads that don’t play it, about seven or eight in the top 50,” he said.
“Not that I’m aiming for this, but you’ve kind of got a cushion behind you - as long as I play average I’m all right, because I’m inside the mark already, everybody picks up points because everyone plays four rounds.
“If I come in the top 40 I’ll be going to Dubai, but you don’t aim for that, I’ll just be hoping to go there and play half-decent and if I make it, I make it.
“You can’t be in the middle of your round thinking about permutations. You just play golf, and if it’s enough by Sunday night then great.”