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Careers

One Golfer's Bid for the Big Show

In seven years as a pro, Jeff Klauk has come tantalizingly close to scoring a PGA Tour card. This year, he's off to a great start, but managing finances, family and four irons isn't easy. <b>As told to Robert Frick</b>

How much do you earn?
Last year, I made $169,000 and finished 34th on the Nationwide Tour money list. But it costs $50,000 to $70,000 a year just to play on the tour. I have endorsements from Nike and Titleist that covered my expenses last year.

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The top 150 PGA players averaged $1.6 million last year. What will it take for you to get there?
I hit a lot of greens in regulation. I just have to keep working on my short game and the mental side of the game.

How close have you come?
My first year on the Nationwide Tour, in 2002, I needed to win the Tour Championship to get on the PGA Tour. I ended up tied for second.

Ouch. Does it get discouraging?
If I have the type of year I had last year, and I'm having so far this year, I'll keep going. I tied for second in the first tournament of 2008 and earned more than $50,000. That definitely got me off to the start I'm looking for and gives me confidence to continue winning.

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What if this doesn't work out?
Golf is pretty much all that I know. But I've made a lot of contacts over the years. So if, God forbid, I have to do something dif-ferent, I'll be okay.

And if you get a tour card? It'll definitely be a dream come true, but then the work is just beginning. At least the purses are bigger.

Are you saving now?
I contribute to the PGA's supplemental retirement plan, which lets me put away $15,500 this year. Plus I own a home in St. Augustine. Spending can get out of control when you're on the road, so you have to be smart with your money. For one thing, private housing arranged by the tournament director saves a hotel bill.

Is your investment style like your golf style? I'm a conservative/aggressive golfer. I make sure I get it in the fairway, and from there I attack the flag. I consider myself an aggressive investor. I'm in a bunch of American funds right now, including Growth Fund of America and funds in European and Pacific stocks.

What's life like during golf season?
My wife, Shanna, and our 2-year-old boy, Jackson, did travel with me for six weeks last summer. It's definitely work being away half the year. You have to enjoy it; otherwise, you're going to drive yourself crazy.