March 29, 2009–Craig Barlow is a Las Vegas native who grew up through the ranks of Las Vegas golf. He played junior golf, high school golf, and amateur golf in Las Vegas, and then qualified for the PGA Tour through Q-School. Barlow, who now practices a lot at the Rees Jones-designed Cascata, has battled several injuries over the years and is now looking to resurrect his career with a good year on the Nationwide Tour, where he has full status in 2009. Recently, Barlow spoke to Golfweek Senior Writer Alex Miceli about a magic number that he is nearing.
Miceli wrote: "Each week, the PGA Tour circulates a list of players nearing status as a 'veteran member.' The magical number of 150 made cuts heralds a new status on Tour: Tournament Players Club privileges for life; pension-fund contributions; annual health-insurance subsidy; and a lifetime exemption into second stage of Q-School." Craig Barlow's cuts-made number currently stands at 149, just one solid week away from enjoying the benefits that come along with full veteran status.
Barlow was last healthy in 2006, when he won more than $1 million and finished 93rd on the PGA Tour money list. The last two years have been filled with hip and wrist injuries and surgeries, and the time away from the game has cost him his exempt status on the big tour. Making one more cut would help in re-gaining that status, but so would earning it back through a solid campaign on the Nationwide Tour, where Barlow started his season at Chitimacha Louisiana Open. Unfortunately, he missed the cut.
Barlow told us here at GolfLasVegasNow that he is healthy and happy and ready for 2009. And other friends of Barlow report that he is hitting it better than ever, including firing a recent round of 8-under par 64 from the blue tees at Cascata, where he hit basically nothing but 3-irons off the tee while working on his long iron game. For you Las Vegas golfers, Cascata is a resort course that is open for public play. The course was recently received top honors for service and facilities by Zagat, and currently is offering a website special Las Vegas golf rate and deal for Las Vegas golf tee times.
Another benefit to the veteran status on the PGA Tour is that the veterans have better priority for open spots in PGA Tour events. "Now, Barlow must write for a sponsor exemption or try to Monday qualify," Miceli wrote. "Because he has no status on Tour, he does not qualify for restricted sponsor exemptions that are held for members. Instead, he can seek only unrestricted exemptions. But those often are used to invite foreign players or local amateurs who can help boost the gate. At the recent Transitions Championship in Palm Harbor, the unrestricted exemptions were given to Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa and Spain’s Alvaro Quiros. Both will be playing in the Masters later this month."
Barlow is also nearing another big PGA Tour career number. As of this writing, Barlow's career PGA Tour money earnings were $4,911,271, just shy of $5 million. One more cut made could allow Barlow to attain both numbers in one fell swoop. But for Barlow, the numbers mean something, but aren't the end all. “Making cuts on the PGA Tour was never a goal of mine,” Barlow told Miceli. “I wanted to win golf tournaments.” Barlow was hoping to earn a spot into the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open to continue his march, but wasn't in the field.