Seamus Power is on a roll, and the former East Tennessee State golfer is poised to play in every major event in professional golf himself.
Power’s third-place finish at the PGA Tour’s Sony Open in Hawaii on Sunday lifted him to 49th in the world golf rankings. This is a significant milestone as the golfers in the top 50 the week before the Masters are on the course. This would be Power’s first major championship appearance.
“It’s definitely a special moment,” Power said. “It’s a big step, but the plan is for it to be just a stepping stone for now.”
Power shot 65 on Sunday to reach 19 under par. He finished behind Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Henley. Matsuyama beat Henley in the playoffs with an eagle.
Power, 34, has built up to this point after several top finishes over the past few years. His victory at the Barbasol Championship in the fall validated his work and he continued to soar.
The $442,500 he earned on Sunday pushed him to $1,231,442 in earnings this season, placing him 16th on the earning list. He is 14th in the FedEx Cup standings and his career earnings are $5,340,974.
Seventeen tournaments ago, Power was ranked 437th in the world and was basically playing to keep his PGA Tour card.
“It would have been impossible to imagine myself going down this path a few years ago because my biggest obstacle was my lack of opportunities to play,” he said.
Power has no such problems these days. Winning the Barbasol Championship gave him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and he is taking full advantage of it. In his last seven appearances, Power has made six cuts and finished no worse than 21st in any of those tournaments where he made the cut.
Last January, he went 39 under in eight rounds, notably tying his career-low round with a 63 in the Tournament of Champions.
“I think I’ll probably have my playoff spot locked after this week,” he said immediately after the Sony Open. “She’s a beauty. It’s by far the first time I’ve had her locked up, so it’s kind of new territory for me.
“The goal is to be in East Lake at the end of the year for the Tour championship, FedExCup playoffs,” Power added. “That goal doesn’t change after this week. It only adds a few points to my total, but there’s still a long way to go.
Power, an Irishman who lives in Las Vegas, is already exempt from this year’s PGA Championship. As well as aiming for a place at the Masters, he could also be in line for the US Open and the British Open, both of which have world rankings as part of their qualification process. He will also be in the Players Championship.
The next stop on the PGA Tour is in California for The American Express, in which Power finished 11th and 21st.
“I really like playing there,” he said. “Anyone who’s been to Palm Springs in the winter, it’s beautiful. The grass is greener. Normally, these are perfect conditions. I mean, La Quinta Country Club is for me the best conditioned course I think I’ve seen. It’s incredible.
“I really enjoy putting it in. I haven’t played for a few years, so hopefully I can start again once I get back there.
Power won five tournaments at ETSU, including the 2007 and 2010 Atlantic Sun Conference championships. He graduated magna cum laude in economics in 2010.