Dicky Pride is the quintessential journeyman for whom the journey has been long and meandering, destination usually unknown, as it was again until he unexpectedly landed atop a PGA Tour Champions leader board on Sunday.
Pride, 51, who had no status on the tour and Monday qualified, won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic by three strokes with a final-round five-under par 67 at the TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga., outside Atlanta.
Heretofore playing senior events only via Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions, Pride now has an exemption through the 2022 season, job security that he had not enjoyed since 2016.
“It’s huge,” Pride said. “Now I’ve won on all three tours, which is something I always wanted to do and always wanted to say. I put in a lot of hard work. So many helped me. It’s a huge deal.”
The journey began when he left the University of Alabama and joined the PGA Tour in 1994. He won the Federal Express St. Jude Classic that year, in his 18th professional start, and never won again in 459 ensuing starts.
He also made 186 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour with only a single victory, in the WinCo Foods Portland Open in 2015.
The only suggestion that better days were on the horizon were his nine senior starts in the 2020-2021 season, in which he had finished in the top 25 in eight of them, including finishing 13th in the Regions Tradition a week earlier.
Pride began the final round at the TPC Sugarloaf trailing leader Paul Goydos by two. Goydos’ bid stalled on the front nine and Pride and Doug Barron were tied for the lead until the former at made consecutive birdies at 13 and 14 and the latter made a double bogey at 15. Pride suddenly found himself with a four-stroke lead of which he was unaware.
“No, I did not know,” he said. “I actually saw the leader board right before my bunker shot on 16 and saw I [then] had a three-shot lead and it got a little easier.”
He parred in, maintaining his three-stroke margin. He played 54 holes in 11-under par 205. Goydos, Stephen Ames and tied for second.
Pride was only the four open qualifier to win a senior event since 2000.