The difference between the David Hearn who played on the PGA Tour in 2005 and the David Hearn who will return there in 2011 is that the current edition is more focused on long-term planning than brief flirtations with success.
At age 31, maturation may have something to do with it. He is, after all, a married man now after tying the knot with Heather a few weeks back. It could be the built-up experience of playing on the Nationwide and PGA Tours and it could be the influence of his coach Ralph Bauer.
Or it could be a combination of all of those factors. The bottom line is that Hearn, from Brantford, Ont., finished 21st on the Nationwide money list after his fourth-place finish at last week’s Tour Championship. The top 25 get their PGA Tour cards.
Hearn’s return was in doubt going into the final weekend after missing the cut at the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open, a result that left him in 27th spot on the money list.
“Actually, I felt really good going into the Tour Championship,” said Hearn. “I did miss the cut in Jacksonville, but I felt like I prepared really well and I actually felt like I played okay. It just didn’t go my way that week.
“I just felt like if I did more of the same, I would have a good week at the Tour Championship and I did,” he added.
Hearn actually had two top-five finishes in the final three weeks of the schedule to clinch his PGA Tour card in a season in which he managed five top-10 finishes, including the runner-up position at the Fresh Express Classic in April, but didn’t win a tournament.
“I got off to a great start and I would have loved to have won a golf tournament this year, but in the middle of the summer, I probably wasn’t playing my best and, during that time, we just really kept our focus on doing the right things that are going to be good for us down the road,” said Hearn.
“I knew my game would come around and, at the end of the year, I started to play some really nice golf again. I was able to get into contention in Miami (a T4 finish on the third-last week of the season) and then again at the Tour Championship, so it was a nice end to the year,” he added.
Hearn adds that it isn’t uncommon to run into a rough patch such as the one in mid-summer, but realizing that the season and the career are more long term helps get a player through the temporary bumps in the road.
“I think it can be a lot of little things. It could maybe be you don’t prepare quite as well as you should. On the Nationwide, you play a lot of events in a row just the way the scheduling works, so I think at times, you can get a little more tired than you think,” said Hearn, who credits Bauer for keeping him on track.
“Ralph’s really good at keeping the long-term perspective in mind,” said Hearn. “We went through ups and downs throughout the year as you always do and our focus was always on doing the right things to be good not just this week or next week, but next year and two years down the road.”
As a result of his patient attitude, Hearn will concentrate once again on doing the things he needs to do to take his return to the PGA Tour beyond 2011 during the off-season, one that will see him attend the final stage of Q-school to elevate his status for next year.
“For next year, I’m just going to really focus on preparing well and staying in good physical shape and being ready for every week that I play,” said Hearn. “I’m just going to continue to do the right things and work on the fundamentals that I know work for my game.
“Ralph and I will sit down in the next little bit and look at what went well this year and what we can work on,” he added.