Andrew Loupe said he’s trying not to think about money lists and Fed Ex Cup points and where he’ll find himself in terms of PGA Tour status at the end of this season.
The mental math can be exhausting. And certainly distracting.
“I’m thinking ball in the fairway,” Loupe said. “I’m thinking ball on the green.”
There’s no escaping, though, the fact this is a huge week for the former LSU and Episcopal golfer.
Loupe, 26, has conditional status on the PGA Tour, meaning he can get into only 10-12 events this season without going through Monday qualifying, where four spots are awarded each week.
“It’s not the easiest thing,” Loupe said. “A lot of these tournaments, I have to try to play my way into. Once the summer gets rolling, it’ll get a little easier and I’ll be able to get into more tournaments.
“I’ve had a few chances, a few starts. I’ve been playing well in some of them.”
Of course, a Monday qualifying slot is no guarantee.
Loupe played his way into the field in Phoenix in February, then came down with a case of food poisoning. He shot 76-71 and missed the cut.
“That was a bad deal,” Loupe said.
Loupe didn’t have to go the Monday route this week. He received a sponsor’s exemption into the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a rare golden ticket that the Baton Rouge native is unlikely to receive when he plays farther away from home.
“They’re difficult to get,” he said.
Playing on the PGA Tour is like a real-life version of Catch-22 for many up-and-coming pros like Loupe.
It’s hard to get to play in tournaments, sometimes impossible, if you don’t have the exempt status of a past tournament winner or someone in the previous season’s Top 125 money list or FedEx Cup points list. And it’s hard to reach any of those career milestones if you don’t play.
“It’s a step-by-step thing,” Loupe said. “There’s no Q-school anymore on the PGA Tour. It’s not easy to get status on the Web.com Tour. There are so many good players with no status. It’s just a tough deal. It’s like any sport. It’s not easy to make it to the NBA or the NFL. And once you’re there, it’s not easy to stay. Once you’re there, you’re playing against the best golfers in the world.”
Loupe is putting his chips on making it on the PGA Tour — his only Web.com Tour start so far this season was a missed cut last week in Mexico.
In 2014-15, Loupe has played in six PGA Tour events, making the cut in three. His best finish was during the fall part of the schedule, a tie for 41st in the McGladrey Classic in Georgia back in October. His last start was nearly a month ago, when he missed the cut in the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
A year earlier, Loupe played exceptionally well in the Texas Open, taking the first-round lead with a 5-under par 67 and staying in contention the rest of the way. He played in the final group Sunday, winding up in a tie for fourth that earned him a windfall of $272,800.
To date, that’s nearly half of Loupe’s career total of $605,573 in earnings. He’s made $42,452 this season and stands 210th on the FedEx Cup points list.
But one week, one big week, can mean everything.
He hopes it can be this week, at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, where family and friends will be rooting him on as they did last year there when he tied for 52nd at 3-under 285.
“The support I received last year was great,” said Loupe, who’s scheduled to play in Wednesday’s Zurich Pro-Am at the University Club. “A lot of friends and family. Just a great experience. I made the cut last year, and I’m looking to build off that.”
Ball. Fairway. Green. For Loupe, it’s that simple, and it’s how much he has to stay focused, no matter what the stakes for his career may be.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.