Records keep tumbling for the 34-year-old American but he’d probably cash in them all to experience a win on the PGA Tour.
It seems strange to call Cameron Tringale a ‘nearly man’ on the PGA Tour. After all, the American is only 34 years old and there’s plenty of time for him to rack up his first win on the Tour. He’s been a professional for the better part of 12 years, but is still chasing that elusive breakthrough.
You would think that someone who has spent a decade on the PGA Tour and is ranked inside the top 60 in the world would have shaken off the bridesmaid’s tag by now. Not that he hasn’t come close. He’s been second four times on the PGA Tour, most recently at the Zozo Championship in October, where he finished runner-up to reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama.
One win will bring two, surely.
Not that Tringale should be complaining too much. Because along the way he has racked up $15-million in prize money, which translates to around R230-million at last glance. That’s averaging over R20-million a year for every season he’s been on the PGA Tour.
In the mid-1980s, there was quite a fuss in the US when Mike Reid became the first man to make a million dollars without winning a tournament. Tringale, who has made 198 halfway cuts from over 300 starts, which began at the 2010 Sony Open, has become the first golfer to pass the $15m mark in earnings without winning a trophy.
All told, there are now 10 players who have won $10m without lifting the trophy, including Tommy Fleetwood. The Englishman has won five times on the European Tour, however, including the 2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge – actually, given the Covid crisis, he’s still the reigning champion of that Sun City event.
Second behind Tringale is another Englishman, Brian Davis, who won over $13m during more than a decade of lucrative toils, although he perhaps deserves an asterisk next to his name.
Now 47, he might well have won a playoff at the 2010 Heritage Classic against Jim Furyk but for calling a two-shot penalty on himself after brushing a loose reed in a hazard, an offence nobody else had seen.
However, it’s not as if Tringale is simply sitting still, counting the dollars. He knows the weight of the albatross he carries around his neck and is another golfer working hard to add distance to his drives, which as we all now know, makes it easier for approaches to the green.
Four years ago, Tringale averaged just over 280 yards off the tee, ranking 168th on the Tour. In the time since, he’s added nearly 18 yards to his average off the tee and has climbed inside the top 100 in driving distance.
This 2021 season he teed up at 26 tournaments, having gone as high as 33 in 2011 and 31 in 2017. That’s a huge workload and testimony to the shape the American keeps himself in.
According to those who have done the research, Tringale’s ‘problem’ is he doesn’t get himself into contention often enough. Out of 311 starts in his career, he has only had 26 top-10 finishes. That means he’s in the top 10 only 8.5% of the time.
And he’s in the top three even less. Only seven times in those 311 starts has he ever finished second or third. That’s 2.5% of his starts in which he has finished in the top three. He also has the most number of PGA Tour starts without a win, followed by Ricky Barnes and Chad Campbell.
Tringale earned plaudits from the golfing community when he disqualified himself from the 2014 PGA Championship due to a previously undetected incorrect scorecard. He claimed to have missed a stroke when attempting to tap in on the 11th hole. Despite uncertainty about the stroke – Tringale claims to be unsure about whether he actually addressed the ball, which would decide if it warranted the penalty – he said he had been guilt-ridden over the past week.
‘Realising there could be the slightest doubt that the swing over the ball should have been recorded as a stroke, I spoke with the PGA of America and shared with them my conclusion that the stroke should have been recorded,’ Tringale said in a statement.
Under PGA rules, a player is disqualified if he signs an incorrect scorecard. The mis-hit would have added an extra stroke to his round, taking him from a tie for 33rd place (four under par) to a tie for 36th. By virtue of his disqualification, Tringale forfeited his $53,000 in prize money.
Not that he’s actually counting.
It was in May that Tringale finished tied for third at the Valspar Championship and earned $407 100. That took him past Davis’ previous ‘record’ and up to $13.7m, which he has subsequently added to. However, when asked if he was aware that he was on the verge of setting the mark, he said simply, ‘No.’
He’s a family man of few words, who lets his clubs do the talking.
When Davis held the dubious honour of most money without a win he spoke of the pressure the tag brings. ‘I spoke to psychologists, I’ve spoken to friends, and maybe if I had been easier on myself I would have won more. But maybe if I wasn’t so hard on myself I wouldn’t have stayed on Tour for 10-plus years. There’s always two sides. But, I was born to do this and can’t imagine ever stopping.’
Fleetwood, rather surprisingly, has a fight on his hands to break his PGA Tour duck. He has been reduced to conditional status on the Tour after a year that didn’t work out for him on US soil. Recently he said, ‘I keep taking every week individually. Let’s face it, I haven’t played great this year and I haven’t had the year I wanted, but every week is the chance to start again in golf, that is the beauty of it. I am trying to work hard, I’m trying to get better and you never know what can turn things around. I’ll just keep turning up, keep trying to do the right things and play.’
That’s further evidence of how unforgiving this game can be. Although, these are men rich beyond their wildest dreams.
When you look at the list of those 10 top money-earners without winning an event, Brendon de Jonge will jump off the page to southern African golf followers. The 41-year-old Zimbabwean’s best days are long behind him and in five starts on the PGA Tour this past season he missed the cut three times. In fact, he only made the cut once in 11 tournament appearances in 2021, at the Puerto Rico Open where he tied 64th.
However, De Jonge can comfortably live off the $11.5-million (that’s over 4-billion Zim dollars) he earned on the PGA Tour without lifting a trophy.
THE 10-MILLION CLUB
David Hearn: $10m
Charlie Wi: $10m
Brett Quigley: $11m
Tommy Fleetwood: $11.2m
Graham DeLaet: $11.2m
Brendon de Jonge: $11.5m
Jeff Overton: $12.7m
Briny Baird: $13.2m
Brian Davis: $13.3m
Cameron Tringale: $15.3m
– This article first appeared in the December 2021 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine. Subscribe here!