Bigley is still chasing PGA Tour dream

Although the clock keeps ticking, Bryan Bigley refuses to give up on his dream of playing on the PGA
Schalmont High School and Siena College graduate Brian Bigley is still chasing the PGA Tour dream.
Schalmont High School and Siena College graduate Brian Bigley is still chasing the PGA Tour dream.

Although the clock keeps ticking, Bryan Bigley refuses to give up on his dream of playing on the PGA Tour.

The Schalmont High School and Siena College graduate will be 32 years old in December. By that age, most of his peers have either reached that elusive Promised Land, or they have altered their career plans and settled for something less demanding. Now a member of the Tour, the official feeder system of the PGA Tour, the 6-foot-3, 201-pounder is still grinding out a living from paycheck to paycheck in hopes of eventually rubbing elbows with the likes of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day.

After turning pro in 2008, Bigley competed on the EGolf Tour and the Carolinas Pro Golf Tour, winning a few tournaments and just enough money to survive in the extremely challenging world of professional golf.

Bigley was finally able to up the ante when he earned conditional status on the PGA Latin America Tour in 2014. He showed promise by making 11 cuts in 13 starts and recorded seven top-25 finishes. His best performance was a six-way tie for second at the Mundo Mayo Open, and he finished the season ranked 24th on the Order of Merit.

Last season, Bigley made 11 cuts and recorded four top-10 finishes to rank 27th on the Order of Merit.

By finishing tied for 36th at the Tour Qualifying School final last September, he earned exempt status through the second “reshuffle” of this season.

“It’s very tough out there,” Bigley admitted. “The travel has been hectic for the last three years, and it’s still hectic this year. When I was on the PGA Latin America Tour, there was a lot of traveling, and it’s the same thing here so far. We’ve had five events on the Tour so far, and four of them have been played in South America. You are always on someone else’s schedule, riding on shuttles and speaking a foreign language.”

So far, Bigley is ranked 126th on the Tour, and he has earned just a little more than $3,000.

“The Tour is a lot like the PGA Latin America Tour, but the fields here are deeper,” Bigley noted. “On the PGA Latin America Tour, maybe 100 guys could actually win any tournament. Here, 140 or 150 players can win any week. I’m up against guys like Jonathan Bird and Tommy Gainey, who have both already played on the PGA Tour before. Every week, I’ve got to learn a new course, and I’m going up against guys who have played the course maybe 20 or 30 times before. Also, I usually get only one practice on the course before I play it. Most golf courses, you need to play at least a few practice rounds to get to know them at this level.”

Bigley said he is relying on his own vast experiences to keep his career going. Ranked 920th on the official World Ranking, he has played in two official PGA Tour events, the 2011 and 2012 Wells Fargo Championship. He considers those two appearances to be his biggest thrills in golf.

“I haven’t had the results I was hoping for so far on the Tour. I missed three cuts so far, but I was in contention for making the cut right up until late Friday in two or three of them,” he said. “I’ve got to keep my good play going on the weekends and not fall off. I was battling a wrist injury during the offseason, but I’m starting to feel better now. My swing feels fine. I’m just trying to take advantage of the scoring opportunities and get up and down when I can. Fine-tuning my game is the key,” he said.

Bigley explained that he is guaranteed playing privileges for the first nine events. The Tour reshuffles its membership after 10 events.

“If you’ve made a check, you are usually OK when they reshuffle, but now, some of the guys are getting bumped down after the reshuffle, because the tour has become so competitive,” Bigley said. “Hopefully, I can play the rest of the events here.”

The top 25 players on the Tour money list earn their PGA Tour card.

Bigley, who set a course record while taking medalist honors at the U.S. Open Local Qualifier at Albany Country Club, is set to make his return to the Capital Region next month for this season’s U.S. Open Local Qualifier at Mohawk Golf Club.

“I’m coming up to Mohawk, then I’ll fly back to Charlotte, and then on to Raleigh,” he said. “It’s a little hectic, but it’s worth it to play the local event up there. It’s a huge advantage for me having some local knowledge.”

Bigley said his personal life has changed quite a bit over the last year, after he met his girlfriend, Kelsey. “We’ve been living together for a few months now, and it’s nice to have a routine and someone who supports you out here,” he said. “You feel more normal from day to day.”

Bigley and his girlfriend have four dogs as part of their family.

Bigley is the son of Pinehaven Country Club superintendent Rob Bigley. His phenomenal local career included winning The Gazette County Amateur twice and being named the MAAC Player of the Year while at Siena.


The Daily Gazette will continue its longstanding sponsorship of three local tournaments this season.

The Schenectady Classic, formerly the Gazette County Amateur, will be sponsored by The Gazette on Father’s Day weekend in June. The Senior County Amateur also will be sponsored by The Gazette

Aug. 4-5, as will the Newspaper in Education Junior Championship July 29. All three events are scheduled for Schenectady Municipal.


This is conference championship weekend for numerous area college golf programs, and they will crown champions today. SUNY Cobleskill is hosting the NEAC Championship at Cobleskill Golf & Country Club. The UAlbany women’s team is defending its MAAC Championship in Florida, where both the Siena College men’s and women’s team is competing. Skidmore, RPI and Union are competing in the Liberty League Championship.

Local club professionals from the Northeastern New York PGA open their season Monday with the Triple Play Championship at Town of Colonie Golf Course.

The Eastern New York Golf Association kicks off its season Wednesday at Columbia Golf & Country Club in Claverack. Call Stan Dzek at 784-2939 for reservations.


Dick McBride, 76, collected his first ace on the 120-yard 11th hole at Mechanicville Golf Club with an 8-iron.


Steve Ciulla eagled the par-4 16th hole at Mechanicville Golf Club by driving the hole and sinking the putt.

Bob Federico also eagled the 16th hole at Mechanicville GC with a chip-in.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or BobWeiner58 on Twitter.

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