John Maginnes was the definition of a journeyman when he played on the PGA Tour a decade ago and proud of it. Out of necessity, he played a heavy schedule as he chased his Tour card. "My son was gold-medallion level on Delta Airlines before he was two," Maginnes says. "He used to get upgraded."
Now the 44-year-old Maginnes, burly and wry, plays for Sirius XM radio and hosts a golf talk show, Maginnes on Tap. He worked last week's Tampa Bay Championship at Innisbrook, and he was glad to see the journeyman genre still alive and well since he left the game in 2005 after 15 years.
Kevin Streeleman, a 34-year-old making his 153rd career start, won by two shots, and several other players who fit the journeyman profile also contended. There was Taggart Twain Ridings, a name seemingly right out of an episode of Dallas. Tag is a 38-year-old grinder whose only victory came at the 2002 Permian Basin Open, on what is now the Web.com tour. "He's won $4 million in the last 10 years and only kept his card twice," Maginnes says, beaming. "That's amazing."
Ridings, an Oklahoma native who lives in the Dallas area, has bounced between two tours, clawing his way back to the PGA Tour by way of a 20th-place finish at Q school in December. But the three-stage qualifying tournament, which featured a white-knuckle, 108-hole finale filled with last-day horror stories, is no longer. The Tour is doing away with the event, and now the best way for hopefuls to play their way into the Show is through the Web.com tour. And for every Dustin Johnson or Rickie Fowler, players who arrived on the Tour with great fanfare, there are 20 journeymen looking to make names for themselves.
"I've never been a blue-chipper," says Ridings, who finished 17th at Innisbrook. "I'm type A. I'm going to work harder than the other guys. That's what keeps me going."
In a better-late-than-never tale, there was 31-year-old rookie Shawn Stefani, a Houston-area native and an alum of Lamar University and countless Hooters tour events. This was only his eighth PGA Tour appearance. "Everybody hits their stride differently," says Stefani. "I'm a patient guy. I kind of wait for things to happen."
Stefani led for two rounds at Innisbrook before faltering on the weekend. During last Saturday's telecast a graphic showed his photo next to pop star Gwen Stefani's. Never mind that his last name is pronounced differently, like Stephanie. He's heard all the jokes, and now he's slightly less anonymous. That's progress. He finished tied for seventh, a career best.
Daniel Summerhays is a man Maginnes has to like. Summerhays finished his second round by holing a flop shot from behind the 18th green for a birdie that squeaked him in under the cut line.
He parked the motor home he travels in with his wife, Emily, and their three boys—Jack, six; Patton, three; and William, 10 months—between the Innisbrook lodges and next to fellow motor-home-traveling golfers Jason Day, Tim Petrovic, Rory Sabbatini and Robert Garrigus. Summerhays set up a mini-hoop and watched Jack school Patton in something similar to basketball. The motor home was a financial reach, Summerhays says, but worth it to keep the family together. "I've probably been with my boys more than most dads who have nine-to-five jobs," he says proudly.
The hopeful optimism after the killer hole-out faded when Summerhays missed the 18th green again in the third round and his impossible downhill pitch ran over the putting surface. It turned into an ugly triple bogey. Despite that setback, Summerhays, a 29-year-old from Farmington, Utah, seems on the verge of moving beyond journeyman status. He enjoyed his best year last season with four top 10 finishes and $1.1 million in earnings. He's got golf in his genes. Older brother Boyd played the PGA Tour, uncle Bruce the Champions tour, and cousin Carrie Roberts the LPGA circuit before becoming coach of the BYU women's squad.
Team Summerhays will pull off the road in Orlando for a break this week, then it's on to Texas and the Shell Houston Open, a 960-mile trek.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, said Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, the father of Taoism. For Summerhays and other journeymen, a full tank of gas is also a good starting point.
"I've never been a blue-chipper," says Ridings. "I'm type A. I'm going to work harder than the other guys. That's what keeps me going."
KOHJIRO KINNO FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED