What was even par worth on the PGA Tour in the 2019-20 regular season for player and caddie?

Imagine an entire season on the PGA Tour with a player making nothing but pars. Financially, what would that mean for player and caddie? Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Par often wasn’t worth anything during the interrupted and abbreviated 2019-20 PGA Tour schedule. When the Old Man made it to the weekend, though, he was often worth a lot.

That was great news for our longtime pals Johnny Par and Sven Even.

They traveled along again this season, Johnny making swings and Sven making suggestions. Each round ended in even par. Johnny is the ultimate grinder. Sven is the most loyal looper. Together, they form a team. Not the best or worst. Somewhere right down the middle.

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During the Tour’s three-month hiatus due to COVID-19, Johnny lost 30 pounds. Then he gained it back. Practiced with persimmon and hickory. Rolled smiling balatas across grainy, bumpy greens. Studied the Farmer’s Almanac, hoping a windstorm or drought might bring a tournament field back to his level.

Sven spent days, if not weeks on Google Earth, studying the fat part of each green. He measured virtually the distance to the middle of each fairway. He slept eight hours each night – two on each side, two on his stomach and two on his back. Enjoyed the same breakfast each morning: a four-egg omelet, two strips of bacon and a quarter of an orange.

Each evening in quarantine, they met up online and watched, from start-to-finish, the Holy Grail, their Mona Lisa, a sight more divine than any Green Jacket: Nick Faldo’s final round in The 1987 Open Championship. They studied how he plodded through the Muirfield mist, ignored birdies, aimed conservatively, lagged putts, tapped in beautifully and completed their favorite four hours in golf with an 18th consecutive par.

After the round, if the spirit so moved him, Johnny sang a line from that old number, “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” Sven studied his charts, again, trying to learn more from Faldo’s perfect round. On occasion, they wept in unison, separated by pixels, a thousand miles apart.

There were more tears when they learned the U.S. Open would not be part of the 2019-20 schedule. It’s the ultimate event for brothers betrothed to par. Of course qualifying can be a challenge with such a conservative approach. But each year Johnny and Sven point toward the national championship as their best chance to put par in the headlines again.

While they did not have a crack at Winged Foot in June, the boys benefitted from the benevolence of two legends, Arnie and Jack in 2019-20. Both men believed par should mean something. Palmer passed away four years ago but asked those who run his tournament to reward and defend par. He gave Johnny and Sven a sponsor’s exemption, and our gents took advantage, thriving in the cold, windy Florida spring to tie for fifth and earn more than $330,000, their biggest check in years.

Jack, never one to be outdone by Arnie, noticed Par’s excellent performance and invited him to compete at Memorial, assuring he’d also have value there.

Jack was right, to no one’s surprise.

With a course renovation beginning as the leaders finished, conditions at Muirfield Village stretched to the brink of ridiculous. Johnny and Sven couldn’t have been happier. Pars were golden on the treacherous, firm, fast greens. The wind wreaked more havoc on the field. They played, with patience and precision, in honor of Sir Nick, who applauded their effort from his virtual booth. Their reward was yet another top 10.

Johnny may have smiled. Sven took two handfuls of bunker sand as a memento.

Could the FedEx Cup Playoffs be a reality? After finishing 167th and 180th in the standings the two previous years, the boys started looking into accommodations around Boston, site of the first playoff event.

In reality, it was the lone highlight in a summer of sadness.

The calm, hot conditions of June, July and August are to Johnny and Sven like a bucket of water to the Wicked Witch of the West. Par becomes meaningless, an afterthought. So-called fantasy golf experts use foolish phrases like “birdie bonanza” and “only aggressive golf will be rewarded this week.” The par 5s are defenseless, yielding subpar scores, three to a group. Rough? There’s no rough. Greens are softer than Air Supply’s greatest hits. It’s disgusting, really.

As the temperatures rose and the birdies flew, the boys sank deeper into despair. Altogether, they missed eight of nine cuts after the restart. They sent Jack a thank-you letter.

Dear Mr. Nicklaus:

Thanks for the invite and the milkshakes. We wish the USGA would have listened to you 30 years ago and rolled back the golf ball. Par doesn’t mean much in most tournaments on the Tour but your (basically) dead greens and typical wild Ohio weather really brought it back to life for one glorious week. On behalf of my accountant, caddie and wife, Jane, we are forever grateful for the exemption and look forward to playing the renovated course next year.

Sincerely,
Johnny Par

P.S. Please consider stretching the course to 8,400 yards for next year’s tournament.

So, what was the final tally? Johnny and Sven played 27 tournaments, making seven cuts and earning $752,365. He finished 135th in the FedEx Cup standings, the calm between two storms, Matt Wallace and Sergio Garcia.

Johnny paid Sven $1,600 a week as his salary and eight percent of his earnings, across the board. (He may be vanilla, but he ain’t tight). Sven earned $103,389 and immediately donated $3,389 to his favorite charities.

It was a good year for our duo. Par can survive on the PGA Tour. Patience is required before it comes to fruition but nobody possesses Even.

TOURNAMENT RESULT EARNINGS FEDEXCUP POINTS
Military Tribute at Greenbrier MC by 4
Sanderson Farms Championship MC by 3
Safeway Open MC by 2
Shriners Hospital for Children Open MC by 5
Houston Open T-59 $16,950.00 5
The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges T-60 $18,915.00 5
Bermuda Championship MC by 2
Mayakoba Classic MC by 1
The RSM Classic MC by 3
Sony Open in Hawaii T-53 $15,609.00 6
The American Express MC by 3
Farmers Insurance Open MC by 1
Waste Management Phoenix Open MC by 1
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am MC by 4
The Genesis Invitational T-43 $32,085.00 12
Puerto Rico Open MC by 2
The Honda Classic T-17 $103,250.00 48
Arnold Palmer Invitational T-5 $330,731.00 96
Charles Schwab Challenge MC by 3
RBC Heritage MC by 3
Travelers Championship MC by 4
Rocket Mortgage Classic MC by 5
Workday Charity Open MC by 2
Memorial T-10 $234,825.00 70
3M Open MC by 2
Barracuda Championship MC by 6 pts.
Wyndham Championship MC by 4
TOTALS 7/27 cuts $752,365.00 242

 

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