University of Wyoming director of golf Joe Jensen always believed that former Wyoming golfer David Hearn could make it on the PGA Tour.
And it wasn’t just because of his game.
Jensen, who was an assistant coach at UW when Hearn played for the Cowboys from 1997 to 2001, saw something different in the Canadian than in most college golfers.
He saw a determination, perseverance and commitment to the game that others simply didn’t have.
Now, 12 years after Hearn left Wyoming to pursue his dream, we all can see what Jensen saw those many years ago: a PGA Tour professional.
“He knew he was going to play golf for a living, period,” Jensen said Tuesday. “There was no ifs or ands for him. His commitment to do whatever it took for him to play golf for a living, he did. It was very important for him to do it.”
That commitment paid off for Hearn this past weekend when he finished in a tie for 21st at the U.S. Open. It was Hearn’s best finish ever in a major and marked the third straight PGA tournament in which he has finished in the top 25.
His play at Merion Golf Club even exemplified what the former Cowboy has become known for: not giving up.
Hearn shot an 8-over-par 78 in the first round and was in serious danger of missing the cut as the second round unfolded. But Hearn’s perseverance paid off, and he shot a 1-under 69 to make the cut by a stroke. Rounds of 73 and 71 even got him on national television for a shot, sinking a birdie putt on No. 7 in Sunday’s final round.
Hearn made just over $86,000 for his performance, and he has earned $603,000 this season.
Last year, he eclipsed the million-dollar mark in earnings in his second season as a full-time PGA member. He is well on his way to earning his tour card again this season, currently ranked 92nd on the money list.
But it wasn’t always like this for Hearn.
After leaving UW, Hearn bounced around the pro satellite golf tour circuit before earning his first PGA tour card in 2005. He played in 24 events that year, making nearly $200,000.
He received full-time status on the Web.com Tour, then known as the Nationwide Tour, in 2007, where he played until earning his PGA card again for the 2011 season. He has been a PGA Tour regular ever since.
And he has done it like he did back in his days at UW, not with flash and brilliance, but with steadiness and that determination Jensen talked about.
Honestly, if you look at this year’s PGA statistics, it seems hard to believe that Hearn has done as well as he has this season. He is 91st in the tour in greens in regulation (64.9 per tournament), 109th in driving accuracy (58.7 percent) and 146th in driving distance (279.5 yards).
“His ball striking is usually premium,” Jensen said.
The one thing Hearn has improved on is his putting. He’s currently ranked ninth on the tour in putting strokes per hole (1.721).
And he’s done all this while not forgetting where he came from.
Jensen said he remains in constant contact with Hearn, and Hearn was one of the main donors to the soon-to-be-built UW indoor golfing facility.
Hearn even returned to UW to complete his degree in psychology in 2008.
Jensen sees something else in Hearn, who turned 34 this season: He sees a seasoned professional who should represent UW for a long time.
“He’s a great representative of the university,” Jensen said. “He’s always asking for UW stuff that he can show off on tour. He’s proud to be a Cowboy.”
Scott Nulph is sports editor of WyoSports. You can reach him at 307-755-3324 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Nulph on twitter at @ScottNulph.