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Sloan back on PGA Tour and looking to stick

Merritt golfer records best-ever finish, earns cheque for $112,100
Roger Sloan
Roger Sloan of Merritt celebrates with the winner’s trophy on the 18th green after the final round of the Tour Nova Scotia Open at Ashburn Golf Club on July 6, 2014. He returned to the PGA Tour this season.

Roger Sloan has a 16-month-old daughter, his beloved Calgary Flames are atop the Western Conference and four days of work in California led to a $112,100 paycheque on Sunday.

“The Oilers are terrible, the Canucks are terrible and the Flames are great,” Sloan said with a laugh. “Everything is good in my world. It’s been a long time coming.”

The 31-year-old professional golfer from Merritt placed tied for 12th last weekend at the Desert Classic in La Quinta, Calif., the best result of his PGA Tour career.

Sloan fired a final-round 65 to finish the tournament 17-under-par, nine shots off the pace set by winner Adam Long. Canadian Adam Hadwin and five-time major champion Phil Mickelson finished one shot back of Long.

The University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) graduate is 112th in Fed Ex Cup standings, Sloan’s highest-ever ranking, and has earned more money ($169,892) through seven events this season than he did in 20 PGA Tour events in 2014-2015, when he amassed $133,048.

So, yes, there is a lot to celebrate for Sloan, wife Casey and daughter Leighton.

But there was very little revelling going on Wednesday, a day before Sloan teed off at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.

“I spent the last three seasons on the Tour, each year just narrowly missing out on getting our PGA status back,” Sloan said.

“You work hard for a job promotion. When you get it, it’s fantastic. At the same time, you know that anytime you get a job promotion, your responsibilities and accountability become greater.

“You’ve got to work harder to make sure we can compete with the world’s best.”

When the Merritt secondary graduate (class valedictorian, 2005) says, “we,” and , “our,” he is talking about his team, which includes Casey, swing coach Jeff Barton, fitness coach Pam Owens, mental coach Paul Dewland and caddie Jon Enge.

“Expenses are challenging, especially on the PGA Tour, with the travel you do and the hotel accommodation,” Sloan said. “It’s not cheap, plus you’re employing a caddie. It’s not just personal earnings. It’s business earnings and you have expenses.”

Sloan turned pro in 2009 and toiled for six years on lower-tier circuits such as the Mackenzie Tour and Tour before finally realizing his dream of securing a PGA Tour card for 2014-2015.

One season later, it was gone.

He was relegated to the Tour and failed in 2016 and 2017 to regain PGA Tour status.

“I went into the finals this year [in 2018] on the Tour and was able to string together a few good tournaments and that gave us enough accumulated money to get back out there with the big boys,” said Sloan, who finished tied for 37th at the RBC Canadian Open in July, a good sign he was ready to take the next step.

He locked up 2018-2019 PGA Tour status by finishing tied for second at the Albertsons Boise Open in September, the penultimate event of the Tour Finals.

Finishing tied for 12th last weekend in a field that included some of the best golfers in the world is reassurance Sloan belongs, but he already knew that.

“There’s definitely that confirmation, but I don’t necessarily need that confirmation,” Sloan said. “What I look after day to day, what I can control, is me. I want to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and know that I was able to execute to the best of my ability as frequently as possible. I know deep down that if I’m able to do that on a consistent basis, I can compete with the world’s best.”

Casey, a former UTEP volleyball player, and Leighton travel with Sloan from stop to stop. One of the benefits of playing on the PGA Tour is quality health care at most events.

“It’s definitely an adjustment from travelling wife and husband to travelling with an infant,” Sloan said.

“She’s running around getting into mischief right now. It’s challenging but, at the same time, it’s extremely rewarding that you get to watch the child’s development.”

By inching up Fed Ex Cup standings, exemption becomes a possibility to high-stakes invitational tournaments such as the Arnold Palmer, Colonial and Memorial.

“The better you play, the more tournaments you’re going to get into, but you can’t focus on that,” Sloan said. “You’ve got to keep doing what you do.

“I need to do a lot more work to start talking about qualifying for majors. That’s top 50-, top-100-in-the-world type of status to automatically qualify for those.”

Sloan is 369th in world golf rankings, up from 435th last week.

A top-10 finish this week would see him vault up world rankings again and earn access to the Waste Management Phoenix Open — next week’s Scottsdale, Arizona, tournament famous for the party atmosphere on Hole 16.

“It’s a gong show. That would be a big bucket-list item to play 16 at Waste Management,” Sloan said.

Kamloops golf fans may remember his first pro victory, when a final-round 66 put him over the top at the Western Championship at Rivershore Estates and Golf Links.

His plunder: a trophy, a bull-shaped belt buckle and a cheque for $20,000.

Sloan’s career earnings to date are $999,746.

A nice finish this weekend would feel like a million bucks.