‘Sage would want me to be here’: Pro secures PGA Tour card one month after daughter’s death

Hadyen Springer celebrates with his wife, Emma, and daughter Annie after earning his PGA Tour card

Hadyen Springer celebrates with his wife, Emma, and daughter Annie after earning his PGA Tour card.

Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

For newly-minted PGA Tour card holder Hayden Springer, the joy of securing his professional dream on Monday at Q-School was muted by an unimaginable recent tragedy.

Springer’s three-year-old daughter Sage passed away on November 13 after a difficult battle with a developmental disorder. According to PGATour.com, Sage “was prenatally diagnosed with Trisomy 18 – a severe developmental disorder – and she wasn’t expected to make it out of the hospital.”

The life-changing tragedy came at a time when Springer was preparing to compete in the Final Stage of PGA Tour Q-School, a start he earned by finishing first in PGA Tour Canada’s season-long points race. But he didn’t consider skipping the tournament. After Monday’s round, Springer shared that Sage’s memory inspired him to tee it up and try to achieve his dreams.

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“I think I was ready to come to this event and to get out and to play some golf. I think at the end of the day, Sage would want me to be here and to be trying to advance my career and all of that, as well,” Springer said on Monday night. “We just kind of looked at it that way, as we’re where we’re supposed to be. I think it would make a difference if Emma and Annie weren’t able to be here. That would make it a little bit more difficult. But they were here, and we got to all be together this week. That definitely helped.”

Emma, Springer’s wife, and Annie, the couple’s one-year-old daughter, were by his side in Florida throughout the Final Stage last weekend. Springer put himself in a solid position heading into the final round, which was pushed to Monday after storms blanketed the area. The family spent the unexpected free time together with a trip to a local park.

On Monday, Springer made four birdies against three bogeys to shoot a one-under 69, finishing T4 to earn his PGA Tour card for 2024 but just a single shot.

Following his triumphant accomplishment, Springer shared that he had thought of Sage “a handful of times” over the course of his final round.

“It’s an interesting kind of thing mentally thinking about her when you’re trying to play and there’s pressure and all of that because it is emotional. But it’s happy thoughts,” Springer said. “It’s kind of one of those things that I think about her, and I just think about her smile. Like that’s the thing that I can just close my eyes and think about her smiling, and it’s kind of a grounding, kind of gets you back to neutral. Not thinking about golf, not thinking about the last shot, the next shot, just thinking about her and her smile.”

When asked if Sage’s memory helped him when he was battling down the stretch on Monday, Springer said that the experience had given him the “right perspective” he needed to compete under pressure.

“This is an unbelievable accomplishment and something that I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time, but it’s not everything to me,” Springer shared. “My identity is in Jesus, and she has shined a light on that and definitely pushed my faith forward. I feel like that’s more of when she’s with me, it’s in that way. Kind of just keeping me grounded and understanding that this is awesome and this is all great, but there are other important things.”

With his full PGA Tour status secured for next season, golf fans will be seeing a lot more of Springer, Emma and Annie in 2024.

Kevin Cunningham

Kevin Cunningham

Golf.com Editor

As managing producer for GOLF.com, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes stories on GOLF.com, and manages the brand’s e-newsletters, which reach more than 1.4 million subscribers each month. A former two-time intern, he also helps keep GOLF.com humming outside the news-breaking stories and service content provided by our reporters and writers, and works with the tech team in the development of new products and innovative ways to deliver an engaging site to our audience.