Ryan Gerard’s life was much different just 10 days ago.
Last Tuesday, the 23-year-old, who has only conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour, prevailed in a 5-for-3 playoff to Monday qualify for the Honda Classic — his first non-major PGA Tour start.
Gerard didn’t stop there, though. He finished T-4 at PGA National and secured a spot in this week's Puerto Rico Open.
"I feel like I learned a lot about myself as a player, how to mentally handle myself in front of big crowds, and just kind of getting that feel of competition at the next level," Gerard said after his Honda Classic final round. "I feel like those are all positives I can take away from the week."
Now, five days since his breakthrough in Palm Beach Gardens, the former UNC Tar Heel has extended the good vibes. Gerard sits T-4 at 8 under in Puerto Rico, six shots off rookie Carson Young's 36-hole lead.
"The last week and a half has been just a rollercoaster," Gerard said following his second-round 5-under 67. "I mean, just not really knowing what I'm getting into, playing well, quick turnaround, flying, it's been really cool. So I think I'm just — I know I'm just lucky to be here and I know I'm playing well. I think I just take those two things in stride and just go have fun with it this weekend. I mean, if I keep playing well, I'll be just fine."
Playing with house money essentially, Gerard’s loose mentality has been pivotal to his recent success.
"When you really care about something, you sometimes make it harder on yourself than it needs to be," he said. "Sometimes I just have to take a step back and kind of try and see a bigger picture, try and really enjoy the little things about it. I mean, I'm playing in a PGA Tour event this week, I'm staying in a hotel on the beach … like there are a few things that are just really, really cool and the golf is just a bonus. It doesn't define me. I want to be a great player, but the golf doesn't define me as a person."
Before the Honda Classic, the North Carolina native collected roughly $110,000 in 13 combined Korn Ferry and PGA Tour Canada starts (he won the 2022 Quebec Open). With his top-5 at PGA National, however, Gerard pocketed $411,600.
He'd love to add to that total with the winner’s check in Puerto Rico, but another top-10 finish would be life-changing for Gerard. He needs a three-way tie for ninth or better to notch special temporary membership on Tour for the rest of this season.
"We're in a good spot," Gerard said, "just got to keep chugging along and we'll be good to go this weekend."