Aug. 8, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
Cameron Tringale is out with the sharks now, trying to make it on the PGA Tour, and get this: he says life is easier than when he was a student-athlete at Georgia Tech. Time spent on The Flats prepared him well both to survive as a golfer and to thrive as a person.
You can see the finished product this week at the Atlanta Athletic Club (AAC), where he’ll be one of a half dozen former Tech golfers in the year’s final major, the PGA Championship.
“Having to balance school and golf and a social life . . . it can get really busy out here, and there can be a lot of distractions,” he said. “In general it was such a tough experience getting through school that the real world can seem easier in some ways.
“I’ve got a lot more free time now. In school, we had workouts early, class until noon, and then we were at the golf course until dark. Now, you just have to focus on golf.”
In his second full season on the PGA Tour, Tringale’s made the cut in 16 of the 23 events he’s entered with four top-10 finishes. With $1.16 million in earnings in 2011, he ranked 55th on the money list entering the past week (he didn’t play).
Not bad for a 23-year-old guy who had to fight through qualifying school the past two years.
“I’m pleased with the way the year has gone compared to my first year,” Tringale said. “I think being comfortable is a huge part of it. There’s such a huge learning curve out here. Having been around one time before, and getting used to courses and playing against the cut . . . I’ve played really well on Fridays this year.”
Tringale, who won the ACC title as a freshman in 2006 and went on to earn All-America honors three times at Tech, knows this week’s course. He’s played the AAC many times.
The former Californian who now lives in Jupiter, Fla., will be joined in the PGA field by former Jackets Stewart Cink, Bryce Molder, Matt Kuchar, and David Duval.
“It’s definitely nice to play here,” he said Sunday. “One thing about majors, a lot of guys have never seen the course before. The PGA was last here 10 years ago, and not a lot of those guys still playing.
“You have to drive the ball really well on that course, and that’s one of the strengths of my game. It sets up very well for me.”
The AAC was the site of the 1976 U.S. Open and the 2001 PGA.
Tringale said he plans to have dinner one night this week with Tech golf coach Bruce Heppler, and he hopes to be back in Atlanta in the fall, playing in the FedEx Championship at East Lake. That’s one of Tech’s practice courses.
He was 56th in the FedEx points standings prior to the past week with 622 points, but hopes to change that dramatically. The top 30 will qualify for East Lake.
“Hopefully, I’ll do well in the playoffs [coming up] and get back to Atlanta in six weeks,” he said. “If I have a good run, the events are heavily weighted and you can jump up the standings.”
Once the season ends in late October, “My clubs will be in a very dark place for a few weeks, and they won’t get any sunlight, I’ll tell you that,” Tringale said. “We’ll have about two-and-a-half months off, and for a few weeks I won’t do anything.”