A long road to tour for 40-year-old Englishman

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Even though his win gave him Nationwide Tour status for 2012, English didn’t even bother with the PGA Tour until he had his card.

“I didn’t feel like I deserved it, or that I had earned it,” he said. “I wanted to get my gears ready, I made it through second stage of Q-school, played well in the final stage, and here I am.”

Christian vaguely remembers a moment like that.

He went from selling knives to working at Inverness Country Club in Birmingham, Ala., where the head pro saw enough promise in his game to give him a job.

His scores while playing with members were 71s and the occasional 67, then 67s and the occasional 65. When his visa was about to expire, he was made the membership director, and the slight improvement continued.

Christian’s first big year was on the old TearDrop Tour in 1998, when he won four times. He made it onto the Nike Tour the next year, and was on his way.

“I thought this was going to be a dawdle,” he said. “I’d play a year on the Nike Tour, and then be on the PGA Tour. It didn’t quite work out that way.”

He never cracked the top 10 that year, and it took seven more years just to get through the second stage of Q-school and return to what by then had become the Nationwide Tour. It took him six more years of work just to get the big leagues.

Indeed, Christian might be the epitome of a late bloomer.

About the time he really got interested in golf, he was working as a pensions administrator, which he described as a “job only slightly more boring than it actually sounds.”

Unable to hone his game without supporting himself, he stumbled into a scholarship program that sent him to Wallace State Community College, where he was teammates with Brett Wetterich, and then on to Auburn.

The highlight was tailgating.

“I didn’t know what that meant,” he said. “My friend said they park and have a good time. You drink and eat. I was on a small budget, didn’t have a lot of money for food or beer, so I thought, `Yeah, why not?’ I had a girlfriend back then and I told her, `I’ll see you in about an hour-and-an-half. I’m going to tailgate.’

“It wasn’t anything I was expecting,” he said. “There were a bunch of 50-year-old men in orange trousers, women with orange earnings and whatever else. I thought, `Well, I’m not going to enjoy this.’ About five hours later … I got what it was about.”

It was while tailgating that he met a couple from Birmingham who offered him a place to stay while he chased his dream.

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