NatPost Column: Mills is Running Out of Time

Since there was a lot of discussion about Jon Mills’ comments earlier this year that the leap to the PGA Tour might not be as great as it seems, I figured some would be intrigued at his take with four events left. His year has been MUCH better than his rookie season, but he’s still on the outside looking in.

Here’s a taste:

On a Saturday, when most people are pleased to be at home after a long week, Jon Mills was not thrilled about sitting around his Pennsylvania house talking about golf rather than playing it.

Mills, who hails from Oshawa, Ont., played passably at last week’s Turning Stone Resort Championship, but missed the cut. And missed cuts are missed opportunities for Mills, who is 142nd on the PGA Tour money list. The top 125 retain their playing privileges.

Mills, who has US$489,510 in earnings this year, has four tournaments to make enough money – likely another US$300,000 – to keep his card. He is playing this week in the Valero Texas Open, which starts Thursday.

While the 17 spots between Mills and the top 125 represent a hurdle, it is not overwhelming. Mills was in a tougher position during his first stint on the PGA Tour in 2006 when he only made a handful of cuts and won US$65,494 for the entire year.

“I pretty much needed to win to get my card that time,” he said. “I don’t need to do that – I just need a couple of good finishes.”

The full column is here.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • If he doesn’t make top 125, is it back to the Nationwide next year or does he try to make enough money with his status as a 126-150?

  • Tighthead: That’s a concern he has as well — which means if the cash doesn’t come his way, it’ll be back to Q School.

  • Jon’s comments (albeit through the media and represent snippets only) do not seem to indicate a player ready for success on the PGA tour. His early gaffe about the jump to the PGA not being a significant leap is complemented with his comments above where he only needs a couple of good finishes to keep his card.

    Remember the adage – “same routines produce the same results?”. His first kick at the PGA tour did not produce the results he needed, the second run at the tour is better but is not realizing the success he wants. Perhaps it is just a matter of keeping at it and eventually the results will be different.

    Certainly, Mike Weir kept at it until he obtained success but Mike worked hard over an extended period of time. I do not hear those types of words from Jon…like “this aspect of my game (putting anyone?) needs improvement and I am working hard with X to fix this issue”…”I am seeing improvement and I have confidence with results will come…”.

    Instead, we hear “all is I need is a couple of good finishes and I will keep my card”. What indication is there that there will be good finishes when he has not consistently produced them to date with plenty of chances in 2008.

    There were plenty of posters in RT’s original post about how Jon will be successful in 2008 as it is “only a couple of putts per round that need to sink” in order to realize success or Jon is not arrogant for making his “significant leap” comment. Those posters seem silent on this issue now.

    When the year is completed, I would be interested in Jon’s comments on his year, what worked, what did not, and his plans for the future.

  • You’re thoughts about Jon “not being ready” to play on the PGA Tour based on some comments in the media are indeed interesting.

    My question to you is have you ever had the chance to see him play? I have had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time watching him play and listening to him speak about his experiences and I will disagree with you completely. He is ready and he’s doing many of the things necessary to improve and compete at a more consistent level. This is evident on his improvement from two years ago.

    I say he’s ready because he has gained a higher level of comfort in competing with the best in the world. He has been in the hunt a few times and although faltering, has gained valuable lessons and experience.

    To me it sounds as though you speak or shall I say write without much insight into who Jon is, how hard he works and how much improvement has been made over the length of his professional career.

    If you’ve had a chance to ever follow Jon and speak with him and look at his statistics over the years on the various tours, his success has always come as he begins to find comfort and confidence on each of the different tours that he has played on.
    Have you watched him after a round head straight to the “putting green” because he understands that this aspect of his game needs to improve? I’m guessing not– But because Jon doesn’t tell the world or state this fact in one article , that means that he feels that it isn’t an issue in his game?

    What you also fail to realize are the changes that he has made to his game and how hard he has worked and strived to be a competitive force on Golf’s elite stage.

    In addition, your comment about him stating he only needed a couple of good finishes—That’s what he needed and that’s what he stated. He never once said it would be easy and he completely realizes it’s not, but what elite athlete goes into competition with the mindset that what he’s doing is not within reach. Confidence is a big battle an important one. Coaches all over the world wish this upon their athletes and the comments made show that he believes that he is capable of being successful no matter what the situation.

    Now that we are back to Q-school, I think we all know what the goal is. Will it be realized? I sincerely hope that it is. Jon knows that the most important thing for him to do right now is improve with every swing, every shot, every putt and every round. How do I know this? Because I take the time to find out and I know that he’s working hard to maintain his strengths and improve on his weaknesses.

    Hopefully in the future you will consider researching a little more deeply on those that you chose to berate. And before you come back with your comments on how you wish him well ect. truly consider what you’ve written thus far and re-think how much you really support someone when the comments are fairly negative.

    Best Wishes,


  • Coach:

    Before you get all “coachy” on me (actually it is too late)….

    I am not berating Jon, I am not a die hard supporter, and I do not need to do lots of research on Jon to make these comments. I simply make them based my observations.

    The fact of the matter is Jon has made improvements but he does not yet seem ready to play consistently on the PGA tour. He may get there (and I hope he gets there) but he is not there yet.

    A few corrections to your note. You say “He never once said it would be easy…”. Actually, what started this whole discussion is his comment that making the leap to the PGA tour “is not that significant”. Hmmm, strikes me that he thinks then it would be easy.

    The things you mention Jon doing are pretty basic to me for someone who is trying to be a winner on golf’s elite stage. The wealth of talent on the PGA tour is staggering and Jon’s talent level seems to be average (obviously incredibly talented vs. the rest of the general population) so he needs to find an edge in order to excel. I’m not seeing it but I agree with you that I only see a small snippet of his life through a narrow lens of the media (which I acknowledged in my earlier comments).

    For comparison look at Mike Weir…I think it was on his 7th try at Q school before he made it…and then he had to go back for one more try before finally finding the formula for success. And a colleague of mine who played successfully on the PGA Senior Tour and who once caddied for Mike said that Mike was the best ball striker he ever saw. There is incredible talent on the PGA tour and heading to the putting green after a round for practice represents “table stakes” of the things a journeyman like Jon needs to do in order to make it.

    I sincerely hope that Jon makes it but I am also pretty realistic about what it takes to succeed. For some, these comments are negative. To the objective observer, I would suggest that there are doused in realism.

    As I have sound in past comments, an athlete like Jon needs to find balance in the enormous amount of self confidence, focus, and work that is required for success on golf’s elite stage.

    Jon made one gaffe to the media last year – stating that the leap to the PGA Tour is not that significant. I criticized that comment only to have a wealth of posters think I was being unfair, unrealistic, harsh etc and Jon’s performance would prove me wrong in 2008. It did not and Jon is back in Q School. As I have said before, I hope he makes it. I suspect it may take time…in addition to a strong belief in himself, focus, work, commitment, training support etc…

  • I think the point Jon was trying to make is that it doesn’t take a two-shot per day swing to make the leap from the Nationwide Tour to the PGA Tour. It is a percentage of one stroke each day. If you looked at how small that number is, you wouldn’t say it is a hugely significant number. However, the result of cutting part of one stroke out of your scoring average is significant.

    Weekend — I appreciate your interest in this topic and the blog. However, I do wonder if you’re making too much out of this. I was the one who conducted the interview and I think I understand what he was getting at.

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