The best golfers in the world are in Atlanta this week for the PGA Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club. The top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings are competing for the title, which has a payout of $1.53 million to the champion.
If the winner is among the top five in FedEx points at the start of play, he picks up an additional $10 million as Justin Spieth did last year.
Taylor Floyd had dreams of one day playing in that event, but it’s a difficult challenge to make it in professional golf, as he discovered. He is one of the best junior golfers to come out of Macon and was a standout amateur and high school player at FPD before going on to play at Augusta State, where he was a member of two NCAA Division I national championship teams.
As a freshman, he was the medalist in the Administaff ASU Invitational at the Forest Hills Golf Club in Augusta with a 54-hole total of 14-under-par 202. He ranked third on the squad in stroke average at 72.32.
As a sophomore, he was a mainstay on the Jaguars’ first national championship team, playing in all 12 events with five top-20 finishes, including one top-five and a pair of top-10s. In the NCAA finals, he lost 1 down in the quarterfinals to Kyle Scott of Georgia Tech, then defeated Florida State’s Wesley Graham 2 up in the semifinals and halved his championship match with Oklahoma State’s Trent Whitekiller.
As a junior, on the second national championship squad, he played in six events and was ranked seventh on the squad with a 75.94 stroke average. His best finish was 18th in the Brickyard Collegiate in Macon.
He was Augusta’s No. 1 one player as a senior and was voted team MVP. He had three top-10 finishes and five top-25s. For his career, he had a 73.42 stroke average, which is ninth-best in program history and fifth-best among four-year players.
After graduating with a degree in Criminal Justice, Floyd gave himself three years to make it in the professional ranks starting in 2012. He primarily played on the EGolf Tour and estimates he made between $80,000 and $90,000, which is not much when you consider expenses to compete in tournaments around the Southeast. In 2014, he played in 11 events, making six cuts and had a runner-up finish in the Sedgefield Classic in North Carolina. He also went the Q-school route a couple of times but failed to qualify.
Floyd saw very early on that professional golf is a job, unlike college golf where you have four other team members who have your back. He says that on the pro circuit, it’s just you, every round, every tournament, and a lot of emotions come with that.
One of his college teammates, Patrick Reed, is among the 30 players in Atlanta this week, and Floyd said that Reed is a more refined player than he was in college. He says Reed is built to be a professional golfer, and as a pro, you have to have some selfishness and Reed has that mentality. It’s him against the world, and he doesn’t care what people think. Floyd says he never had that attitude.
Reed is one of the five players who can win the $10 million bonus, along with Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Paul Casey.
Floyd says as a professional it’s a grind and you are always working to get better and that he is too competitive to not be successful.
After three years, he has given up his dream of playing professionally and is in the process of regaining amateur status. His last professional tournament came in November 2015, and it usually takes about two years to get back to that designation. He hopes to be listed as an amateur again some time in 2017.
The 26-year-old Floyd is back in Augusta working with an insurance firm and also playing golf, and he says he is enjoying the sport again.
Contact Bobby Pope at email@example.com