Tacoma’s Troy Kelly knows he is in a tough spot.
Still on a major injury exemption on the PGA Tour, the Central Kitsap High School and University of Washington product has 10 tournaments remaining to earn either $563,133 or 353 FedEx Cup points to maintain full-time playing privileges.
He will play at least three tournaments on the West Coast swing, starting this week at the Humana Challenge at La Quinta, California, where he lived until last year. He is also in the field at the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks from now — and hopes to get into the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“I wanted to get playing again and see if I could get up on the money list early,” Kelly said. “I am going to look at my schedule later in the year based on how this stretch goes.”
Kelly missed much of the 2013 season with a serious knee injury. After surgery, he returned last season but never felt fully healthy and played in only The Greenbrier Classic and John Deere Classic. He missed the cut in both tournaments. He also played in nine Web.com Tour events.
And last fall, Kelly entered the Frys.com Open and Shriners Hospital for Children Open in the early wraparound part of the 2014-15 season. He missed both cuts.
Kelly has taken the road back to full-time playing very slowly, admitting he was hurting more at the start of the 2014 season coming back from the knee injury that he thought he would.
In the past few months, he has played a lot with Olympia’s Andres Gonzales and the Putnam brothers — Michael and Andrew University Place — at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club. His local PGA Tour counterparts have raved about how he has been striking the ball.
“This is the best I’ve played in my whole life,” Kelly said. “I’ve got my swing ... tightened up.”
Unfortunately for Kelly, the injury bug has hit again. This time he is battling a slightly torn labrum in his right hip.
“The doctor has said it will be like walking around with a rock in your shoe — it is going to hurt,” Kelly said. “I am just praying I can stay healthy.”