ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – I was reminded of St. Louis’ lone representative on the PGA Tour this weekend during the broadcast of the Memorial. There was our very own Scott Langley doing a promotional spot for the PGA Tour pointing out that he was the first alum of the First Tee program to earn his way onto the Tour. From the moment he appeared on the PGA Tour roster he has been well received by Tour officials.
I also had been thinking about Langley because we were coming up on final qualifying for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay the Monday following Memorial. The Parkway South graduate has a remarkable history in his few short years of his national golf life. He had qualified in four of his first five years for our national championship, and I am happy to say we have visited on air after each and every one of those rounds.
Unfortunately it seems virtually certain we will not be sharing a conversation next week in Seattle. Langley struggled with his first 18 at sectionals at Brookside Country Club with a one over 73. He rallied in the afternoon shooting seven under 65, but that left him one shot short of an alternate spot and more than likely outside the final field.
I even wondered if he wasn’t the victim of a little bad luck in that afternoon round. He had just eagled the par-5 12th when play was suspended briefly for weather. There is no guarantee that he would have ridden that momentum to the next tee, and he did add two birdies coming home, but the delay couldn’t have been beneficial.
The disappointment of not making it five U.S. Opens in six years is sort of representative of the way his PGA Tour season has gone this year. In 2014 Langley had put up enough high finishes early in the year to set a playing schedule of his own choosing, all the more important because he had become a young father and was relocating from Florida to Arizona.
Since the PGA Tour no longer uses the calendar to define their year, Langley’s 2015 season got off to a promising start with the fall schedule. A top-twenty at Frys in October and a top-thirty at Sony in January had him in good position for a run similar to his start the previous year.
Despite a couple of missed cuts he again posted a solid top twenty-five at LA and was looking at a best year ever if he could maintain the pattern. That “if” has not turned into a reality.
Since the beginning of March Langley has broken the top-fifty for a finish only one time, T-27 at Colonial, and he has missed the weekend four times. Currently he sits 145th in the Fed Ex Cup rankings and needing a solid summer to maintain his stay on the PGA Tour.
Ordinarily that would not be a concern because he has shown an ability to put together stretches of good golf in the past that secured his status. What is concerning to this observer, and admitted fan of the Illinois graduate, are the numbers that profile the record.
The PGA Tour quantifies every possible aspect of your game on Tour, and Langley’s numbers are a window into why he’s not putting up the scores he needs.
The lefthander has always been a player of moderate length in today’s game, and this year to date he has paired that with the most destructive combination of lack of distance AND accuracy off the tee. Through Memorial, an event he played final group on Sunday a year ago, Langley ranks 166th on Tour in distance off the tee and 123rd in accuracy. That puts him 185th on Tour in total driving.
Not surprisingly, with that kind of handicap at the start of the hole, the problem becomes compounded. He is two steps back of his driving rank with a position of 187 in greens in regulations. If your not long, you’re missing fairways and not finding greens you better be a magician to salvage your rounds.
Langley is a musician (he can play the violin), not currently a magician. He is 193rd scrambling from the fringe, 122nd scrambling from the rough and outside the top one hundred in every scrambling category other that sand saves (45th).
On the greens the numbers are no less pedestrian. He ranks 149th in total putting with only his approach putting placing him the top fifty. If the numbers don’t lie, the St. Louisan doesn’t have a go-to part of his game to build a summer of success.
Now understand, in the grand scheme of life Langley has already put himself ahead of most. He’s still young, by any measure successful at what he most wanted to do, blessed with a new family. This year on the course he was deposited nearly $350,000 in earnings in the bank. Most including myself would happily trade with Langley for just one of those things in his life.
But there are no guaranteed contracts in a pro golfer’s life and the Tour is a ‘what have you done lately’ kind of world.
So as the native St. Louisan takes in the call of the U.S. Open next week from another native St. Louisan on Fox, Joe Buck, one can only hope that a light goes on, and he finds what he needs in his game to make the summer of ’15 a successful third act to his fourth year on Tour.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)