Callum Tarren was one shot away from a possible golden ticket to the Masters.
But the 32-year-old sees his tie for second place at the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic on Sunday as growing evidence of his growing confidence on golf’s biggest tour.
And the Englishman is ready to push even further in the new year.
“I’m still delighted to end 2022 like this. It was a great way to end a very successful season,” he said.
A first victory in Georgia would have been enough for Tarren to earn a place in Augusta in April – but some late birdies from Canadian Adam Svensson refused him.
But in another sense, it was mission accomplished as Darlington’s man established himself more in the upper echelons of the game.
“Bigger and better than I expected”
Tarren had finished 119th in his first season on the PGA Tour, which was enough to keep his Tour card. But his tie for second place propelled him to 25th on the current FedEx Cup points list — enough to get him into all of the Tour’s high events in 2023.
Simply put, that means taking part in the tournaments with the most money ($20m prize money, around £16.5m) against the biggest names – think world number one Rory McIlroy, the Spaniard Jon Rahm and leading Americans like Justin Thomas and Scottie. Scheffler.
While not in the world top 500 last March, his world ranking has climbed to 165th, with good chances to improve further in the new year.
“At this time last year I was basically playing the events I was due to attend,” he told the BBC. “Now I will have a little more freedom.
“I’ve always wanted to play here and everything has been even bigger and better than I expected.
“We go to some of the best courses in America and now I can go to any event you want to play.
“When I birdied my 18th Sunday, the first thing that came to mind was ‘is this going to get me to Augusta?’
“It’s the magic kingdom of golf and it didn’t quite happen. But it’s still one of my goals and a good base for 2023.”
One thing that hasn’t changed despite his budding career across the Atlantic is Tarren’s northeast roots.
He has no base in Florida, unlike many of his contemporaries, and he still classifies County Durham, where he lives with his partner Ashleigh and young daughter Sofia Rose, as his home.
Flying back and forth has never been a problem for Tarren. A student of the University of Radford in Virginia, his golf took him to China and to the secondary circuits in America before his recent elevation.
For now, there are a few months left before he begins his 2023 season in California.
This will allow Callum to spend time and vacation with his family and then work on his game at Rockliffe Hall with coach Lee McCavanagh and fitness trainer Stuart Parnaby, the former Middlesbrough footballer.
It’s not a lifestyle for everyone, but Tarren’s natural positivity makes it work.
“Playing golf is not a job”
“The plan is to continue living in the UK for now, but I will probably assess that at the end of next season,” he said.
“But the family will be going out a lot more next year. My partner is his own boss and my daughter is not in school yet, so we will try to take advantage of that.
“I have told all my friends and family that they are always welcome to come and see me. I get to go to amazing places and it’s nice to share them with people who see me. surround.
“My dad Drew has been hanging out with me for the past two weeks. He was thrilled to see me playing so well even though he was so nervous. He was shaking on Sunday!
“I’m lucky because I’m not really homesick. Once I know how long I’m going to be away, I always count the days and weeks.
“Obviously I miss my family and we do a lot of things on FaceTime. But I love playing golf for a living.
“It’s not a job, but something I like to do.”