Sloan ready for a return to the PGA Tour
Roger Sloan took 5,404 swings on the Korn Ferry Tour last season. None of them were more important than the 5,404th.
His final stroke on the 72nd hole in the last event of the season, the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, was an eight-foot putt that found the centre of the cup. It assured him of finishing 29th on the circuit’s points list, which sent him back to the PGA Tour for the 2024 season.
Sloan has had more than a month to reflect on that moment and is still drinking in all the good that came from it.
“I think the best feeling that I had in that whole experience was just knowing that when I needed to make a putt I could make that putt,” he said. “It's really cool to go back to the PGA Tour. I've been there before. I'm excited to go back and hang out with my friends. But just the self-satisfaction of knowing that, when I needed it most, I was able to dig deep and do it.”
The Merritt, B.C., product will rejoin the PGA Tour after a one-year absence. It will mark his sixth season on the top tour in golf including a four-year stint from 2019 through 2022. That last year he was there was one to forget. He made just nine cuts in 29 starts, with his best finish being a tie for 14th. He ended up 178th in the FedEx Cup standings, which sent him back to the Korn Ferry Tour.
Some might see that has a major disappointment, but Sloan prefers to take the positive side in just about every part of life. He viewed it as a chance to take a step back, assess his game, and rebuild it.
“I had such a terrible 2022 on the PGA Tour,” he admitted. “I just kind of just kind of lost my identity a little bit and my game fell apart. And so this year was kind of a rebuilding year and bounce back year.”
At the start, that meant sitting down with his team, which includes swing instructor Jeff Barton, Paul Dewland, a Canadian mental performance coach who resides in Orlando, and caddie Todd Clarkson from Calgary. What they determined was that Sloan had become fixated on what his scorecard said at the end of every round and less on the overall performance. He was chasing a number and got caught up on the hamster wheel of quick fixes.
Instead of a preoccupation on results, last year’s focus was on cementing the process and returning to the core habits that had previously taken him to the PGA Tour. The scores would flow from there. It took time. It took trust. It was all about long-term growth.
The first few months on the Korn Ferry Tour produced good rounds but not necessarily good tournaments. It was enticing for Sloan to hit the panic button and give up on his game plan. A younger, more inexperienced player might have done that but the Canadian stayed the course.
“There's so much temptation to abandon what you're working on, and you really need to figure out, ‘What is the intention of what I'm working on?’” Sloan said. “Is it for a short-term fix or is it for a long-term gain? Because in golf, it's so easy to get a swing thought or to get a little adjustment here or a little feel here, and it's just a quick Band-Aid and then two weeks later, you're searching for something else, something that works for that short period of time.”
In early June, he received a sponsor exemption to play in the RBC Canadian Open and posted a respectable tie for 34th. Sloan said he felt as comfortable as he had in some time at the tournament. It provided the groundwork for his finishing kick to the season back on the Korn Ferry Tour.
At the end of July he played four rounds totalling 16 under par at the NV5 Invitational in Glenview, Ill., for a tie for 21st. The next week, all the work came together as he won the Utah Championship with rounds of 66-65-63-66.
Several more good finishes over the next few weeks brought him to the season finale where that putt on the 72nd hole moved him up the ladder to the PGA Tour for next season.
While playing the PGA Tour won’t be new for Sloan, having a few months off until he starts is. In past seasons, the series of events in the fall were great opportunities to get the game on track, but this time, he finished the Korn Ferry Tour and won’t play again until the new year.
He has two goals for his time away from golf. The first and most important is being a husband and dad for his young family that includes his wife, Casey, and their three children in their Houston home. After spending so much time on the road over the years, he is more than happy to do the chores around the house and handle the drop-offs and pick-ups of kids.
After that, it’s getting his game ready once again for the new season.
“The second goal of the off-season is to definitely continue to work on the foundation of who I am as a golfer,” he stated. “I’m not necessarily tinkering or planning on results but just really buckling down and getting lots of reps on what makes me a better player.”
He isn’t setting any goals yet, although that could change based on his play in the early season. He’d like to play more than one major championship – his major experience so far is two U.S. Opens, including last year – and while he knows it would be a long shot, he won’t rule out making a run for the Presidents Cup team.
For now, he plans to enjoy the down time. His wife and kids will head back to Vernon, B.C., for a Christmas ski trip at SilverStar Mountain Resort and a reunion of the Sloan clan. Not long after that, he will start the 2024 PGA Tour season.
“I'm just I'm really excited to get the season going,” stated Sloan. “We're in a good spot right now and I'm really excited for it.”