By MARC PRUITT
Ryan Sullivan has one less thing to worry about.
Between booking flights and making hotel arrangements in foreign countries for upcoming tournaments and figuring out where he left his passport from his last trip, Sullivan’s whirlwind season of success that began when he played in the U.S Open at Merion in June was made even sweeter recently when he qualified for the final stage of Q-School on the Web.com Tour.
Sullivan, who lives in Winston-Salem, has been playing on the NEC Latin America Tour since October and won the Puerto Rico Classic in his first start.
He has also picked up an eighth-place finish at the Lexus Peru Open and earned $31,950 in the first four tournaments he played in.
Because of his standing in the Top-10 on the Order of Merit following the event in Bogota, Colombia – where he missed the cut – Sullivan has secured his spot into the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School, which will be played Dec. 12-17 in Palm Springs, Calif.
“I really wanted to play on the Latin America Tour to get some more tournament experience and sharpen my game,” said Sullivan, who missed the cut in both events he played on the Web.com Tour this year. “There are a lot of really good players playing the Latin America Tour, and it’s a pretty good mix of local guys and Americans going down there to hone their games if they don’t have status. Any time you pick up a win is great, and winning there really did a lot for me to move my career forward.”
Not only was the $27,000 he won in Puerto Rico his biggest payday as a professional, it also secured him full membership on the Latin America Tour next season and earned him an exemption into the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open in March.
Sullivan was quick to point out the success of one of the PGA Tour’s breakout stars this season and his ties to the Puerto Rico Open.
“Jordan Spieth had his breakout performance in Puerto Rico this year when he came in second,” Sullivan said of the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year. “Come March of next year, maybe that could be my breakout opportunity? I’m really looking forward to it.”
There are three tournaments remaining on the Latin America Tour schedule, and Sullivan said he will definitely participate in the first two – the Chile Open in Santiago Nov. 18-24 and the Personal Classic in Buenos Aires, Argentina Nov. 25-Dec. 1.
If Sullivan can break into the top five on the Order of Merit – known as “Los Cinco” – he will gain access to the Web.com Tour automatically. He is currently a little less than $30,000 behind the player in fifth position.
“The plan right now is to definitely play those first two, and depending on where I stand on the money list, I’ll play in the third one, which is also in Buenos Aires,” Sullivan said. “I figure I need to win one of the first two to have a realistic chance of getting into the top five, and if I don’t, I’ll skip the third one and come home to rest up and get ready for Q-School.”
Sullivan had never traveled abroad before playing in the Web.com’s Brasil Classic back in April.
Now, he’s a frequent visitor to several South American countries.
“It’s been a great learning experience, and an expensive one,” Sullivan said. “My dad keeps reminding me to use the same airlines whenever possible and book rooms at the same hotels to rack up frequent flier miles and points. I’ve had a lot of fun and met some great people at every event. There are a lot of people who come out to support the events down there. Playing on this tour has given me options going forward and allows me to continue to do what I’ve always wanted to do.”