Dahmen, who lost his mother to cancer when he was a junior in high school, beat testicular cancer after being diagnosed in 2011. He finished among the top 25 on Sunday at the Portland Open to earn his PGA Tour card.
Joel Dahmen didn’t want to watch, but he couldn’t help himself.
Who could blame the former University of Washington golfer? His dream was in reach, yet he was powerless to do anything to help it come true.
That was the position Dahmen found himself in Sunday during the final round of the Web.com Tour’s Portland Open, the regular-season finale. At end of the round, the top 25 players on the money list would receive PGA Tour cards.
Joel Dahmen file
Residence: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Schools: Clarkston High School, University of Washington.
Highlights: Two-time state champion at Clarkston in 2003 and 2006. ... Won twice on PGA Tour Canada in 2014 and was the tour’s money leader. ... Had nine top-25 finishes in 20 Web.Com Tour events this year.
Did you know: He also lettered in basketball at Clarkston. ... Former roommate of Nick Taylor, a UW star now on the PGA Tour.
Reach him:@Joel_Dahmen on Twitter.
Dahmen, 28, began the week in 22nd place, but when he missed the cut after two rounds there was a good chance that four others could pass him. One minute during Sunday’s final round, he would look at the projections and he was out of the top 25. A few minutes later he would check, and he was back in the top 25.
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His future was being determined by others, and the Clarkston native did not like it.
“It was the hardest thing I have gone through in my golf life, not having any control of what was going to happen,” he said. “It was frustrating, because I had control (before he missed the cut) and I didn’t take care of my business like I should have.
“When I was watching, I was trying to do the numbers in my head, but they were moving around so much. I tried not to watch, but I couldn’t not watch.”
As it turned out, Dahmen got the 25th card, with $975 more in season earnings than the No. 26 player, Xander Schauffele, who finished Sunday’s round in Portland with a bogey on the par-4 17th and a par on the par-5 18th.
Had Schauffele finished the final two holes in even par, Dahmen would have finished 26th. It was that close.
Dahmen had consoled himself that if he finished outside the top 25, he still would be in the four-tournament Web.com Finals, with the top 25 in that also getting PGA Tour cards. But now he is in, even though he still needs to perform well in the Web.Com Finals to push him up the PGA Tour’s priority list and ensure that he can get into most events next season.
“This is so much better, miles better,” he said.
If anyone deserved a bit of good fortune, it was Dahmen.
He lost his mother to cancer when he was a junior in high school. He partied himself out of his scholarship at Washington after one golf season, and then when things finally were starting to go well, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011.
Dahmen beat the cancer, but after being eliminated in the second round of PGA Tour qualifying school in 2013, he went into a funk and rarely left the couch. Girlfriend Lona Skutt finally gave him an ultimatum: Get back on the golf course, or get a real job.
Dahmen got back on the course. He was the leading money winner on the PGA Canada Tour in 2014, earning a card on the Web.com Tour, and now he is a member of the PGA Tour.
“She’s been with me at my lowest and my highest,” Dahmen said of Skutt. “She is a big reason I am where I am, always supporting me, but also kicking my butt when I need it.”
When he was going through chemotherapy, Dahmen said, it was hard to imagine ever getting on the PGA Tour.
“At that time, it looked like an insurmountable mountain that I could never climb,” he said. “Maybe I can help other people going through the same thing where the mountain seems too high — it’s not always too high.”
Cancer changed Dahmen’s perspective.
“I always had the God-given talent, but I didn’t work as hard as I should have,” he said. “At some point, the talent runs out. I changed my attitude. I didn’t want to be that 40-year-old guy at the bar telling everyone how good he could have been or how good he was. I wanted to do it.”
Mission accomplished. He has the PGA Tour card to prove it.