Before you dismiss his chances and consider Scott Fawcett the longest of long shots at this week's final stage of PGA Tour qualifying, remember the first step he took before building a company that currently manages $100 million worth of electrical contracts in the Dallas area.
"I Googled the word 'electricity' and learned everything about the subject," he said.
Go ahead, laugh, but Fawcett proved to be a quick study. "I knew more about providing electricity than the competition," he said. "I worked 80-hour weeks and built up a lot of clients by providing a cheaper service."
That was in 2001, and if you're wondering what prompted Fawcett to think he could become an electricity broker, well, there were two things. One, he read a newspaper article about how Texas was going to deregulate electricity and the forecast that such a move would open up employment opportunities. And two, he was in search of a job and didn't exactly have a polished résumé.
"I mean, what was I going to say to someone, 'I've been out of college five years playing golf, give me a good job?' "
Fawcett laughs, and why not? His story is perhaps the most improbable one of the 163 that formed the field for the annual six-day, 108-hole Q School finale in La Quinta, Calif. The only amateur in the field, Fawcett is leading a good life these days - six weeks into a marriage to a wonderful woman, still in charge of a prosperous company, and now in position to land a spot on the PGA Tour in 2009.
"My friends and business partners back home think it's hilarious," said Fawcett. "But I'm just trying to take it one step at a time. After taking seven years off, I really think I can do this."
He had hit the lonely and unprofitable minitour circuits right after his collegiate days at Texas A&M, but after five seasons on the Hooters and Golden Bear tours, Fawcett headed back to the Dallas area to rest an injured shoulder and ponder his future. That's when a light went on - so to speak - and electricity entered the picture. Enticed by the possibilities, Fawcett chose to tackle life.
There had been some highlights to his brief pro career - a win in the Lady Luck Classic in Mississippi on the Hooters Tour and rounds of 79-79 to miss the cut in the 1999 US Open at Pinehurst (N.C.) being the most notable ones - but with even greater success, Fawcett developed a thriving business. No longer the one-man electricity-selling show he had been in 2002, Fawcett within a few years had partners and associates, and that afforded him the chance to get more serious about his game. By 2008, he was a reinstated amateur thirsting for a more competitive schedule. There were appearances in the Texas Amateur, the Texas Mid-Amateur, and the US Mid-Amateur, where in his opening round at Milwaukee Country Club Fawcett stood over a 12-foot putt for a front-nine 29.
"I didn't even know it was for 29. There were no worries. I knocked it in," said Fawcett, who rode that opening 66 to a fifth-place finish in medal play. Though he lost in the first round of match play, he told himself he was playing well and excited about the game for the first time in years. Why not give Q School a try, he thought.
One of the many changes since his last Q School appearance, in 2001, is the addition of the dreaded "pre-qualifier," but Fawcett had no choice. He and 237 others without much status had to pass that test, so in essence the Q School process for him is four stages, not three. No problem, he's 3 for 3 thus far, getting through the pre-qualifier in Houston, the first stage in McKinney, Texas, and the second stage in Tampa.
"It's a grind, no doubt," said Fawcett. "But I am in a different position than a lot of these guys. They're playing for their lives and they've been at it for a long time now. They're exhausted and maybe they're at wit's end. I'm 35, but I feel like I'm fresh out of college. I'm a youthful and excited 35."
Fawcett is accompanied by Rebecca on what amounts to an extended honeymoon. "She still doesn't understand it, not really," said Fawcett, "and that's great. We talk about a lot of things, but not golf, and that's helped my focus, I think."
The talk was golf the other day, however, during a practice round with Todd Demsey, who was eighth at last year's Q School finale but is back again, having finished 197th on the money list in 2008. "He's so docile, so calm," said Fawcett. "Then he asked me, 'Where did you play last year?' "
Fawcett couldn't hide his smile. "I told him about the state amateur and the mid-amateurs and then told him that I lost in my club championship a few weeks ago, but that was fun. He just stared at me, then I told him I was an electricity salesman."
Demsey, himself an inspiration given his courage and strength to fight through brain tumors, thought it was a great story.
Which it is, spoiled not in the least by Fawcett's opening 72 yesterday that left him tied for 104th. There's a long way to go, which appears to be the way he prefers it.