GREENVILLE — It will barely even occur to Ben Martin until he stands on the first tee Thursday that he’s chasing another big paycheck while trying to stay among the Web.com Tour money leaders.
The Greenwood/Clemson product recently purchased a house 5 minutes from the Chanticleer Course at Greenville Country Club, one of three layouts in rotation for the annual BMW Charity Pro-Am. The other two venues — Thornblade and The Reserve at Lake Keowee — also are familiar landscapes.
“It is weird to be playing a tournament and staying at your own house,” Martin said. “Every week you’re going to a hotel or staying with a host family in a different, and now I’m home this week playing courses I always play.
“It almost doesn’t hit you that it’s a tournament until you tee it up Thursday with a scorecard in your hand.”
He wasn’t able to convert any home-course knowledge into gold last season while missing the cut in his first BMW outing. He was in the midst of a slow start and now arrives on the opposite end of things as one of the Tour’s most consistent players the past three events. He posted a pair of ties for 11th before tying for eighth at the tour’s last stop two weeks ago, moving to 23rd on the money list with $57,358.
The Web.com Tour’s site has Martin ranked No. 1 in its weekly power rankings, marking him a favorite to win.
“I definitely have some confidence going into this week based off recent performances,” Martin said. “I keep improving my finishes and I’m trending in the right direction and looking forward to continuing to do that in a hometown event.”
It feels as if the 25-year-old has been around forever after making the final of the 2009 U.S. Amateur that led to a Masters start the following season. He’s already played two U.S. Opens and was a PGA Tour regular in 2011 when he posted a tie for sixth at the Reno-Tahoe Open after making the Tour via a tie for second at Q-School.
It was a bit of culture shock when he made the PGA Tour right after leaving college and for the first time is playing a tour for the second consecutive season. He’s more relaxed and confident than ever in his chosen endeavor and the added maturity has shown in his performances.
He’s already totaled more than $500,000 in career earnings and recently became engaged in addition to buying his first home. He now works regularly with a local trainer and sports psychologist in addition to seeing his swing coach in Charlotte.
“I feel a little like veteran now,” Martin said. “I was never really a standout early in high school or at Clemson so I’m just kind of following that model of getting a little better each year and now in my third year as a pro I’ve continued to progress.”