His professional golf had gotten to the point, Conway’s Bryce Molder says, that the downside was overshadowing the upside on the PGA Tour.
Upon induction into the Arkansas Golf Hall of Fame on Thursday night, Molder, a four-time, first-team All-American at Georgia Tech who had won almost $12 in 16 years as professional with 29 top-10 finishes, announced his retirement.
"I’m known for years I wouldn’t play forever," said the 38-year-old Molder during a break Friday before heading to his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. "I’d been on the PGA Tour for 11 years and eight or nine good years. If you doing something you love and it’s still fulfilling, more power to you. But I had gotten to the point that it was just not fulfilling anymore."
Molder, who won the Frys.com Open in 2011 (his only tour victory) , and finished second in the St. Jude Classic in 2009, finished 26th in the Travelers Championship in late June .then missed three consecutive cuts, then finished 62nd at the RBC Canadian Open.
"I had put every bit of myself, physically, mentally and emotionally into this game but I wasn’t getting the results," he said. "I began to look at the journey. How long could I continue to be a world-class golfer? I felt I had peaked as far as what I could do on a world stage, that there was more a downside than an upside. It was just time to go a different direction."
Family played a big part in the decision by Molder, who finished 190th in the FedEx standings this season and would have had to have gone on the Web.com Tour to try to regain his PGA Tour card. He did not qualify for the FedEx championship playoffs
"I got to see my daughter (Jules) celebrate her third birthday this year (Sept. 18) , the first time I’ve been home for her birthday since she was born," said Molder, an Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee in 2016. "After the last tournament I played in (the Canadian Open), I had been home for about five weeks and she came up to me and said, ‘Daddy, go bye-bye? I said, ‘No, I’m not going off to work. I’ll be here all day.
"It’s a different type of feeling. That’s what I mean by the journey and was it worth it anymore."
Molder said there were about 10 different moments this past season that he felt it was time to call it quits professionally. He was plagued with back problems.
"My swing was out of sync," he said. "In time, I could have played on maybe two, three or four more years. But when I got to the point I felt I was developing a more efficient swing and got to a good place, I still was feeling pain. It makes you start thinking about how much longer you can be a quality player.
"But it was never one single factor, just a combination of things, including family. And there are so many good, young golfers now who are athletic and have added physicality that is changing the game for the better, I think. There is always room for chipping and putting (his specialty), but you start thinking about the physical demands nowadays …
"And golf in different. In about every other sport, the team sports, you can be a good player on a bad team, or a bad player on a good team and feel like you’ve done your best and even if you don’t, the team can be successful. Golf is an individual sport and unless you win every week, you always feel you could have done better or left something out there. You might beat 145 of 150 golfers and in most sports that would be great but in golf, you often feel unfulfilled because you could have done this or that to do better.
"Finishing fifth in a tournament ought to feel great, but you don’t feel great. It’s tough to win out there and it beats on you."
Molder, who moved to Conway from Harrison at an early age and whose family still lives in Conway, said he is exploring different options for the next phase of his career. He has a business degree from Georgia Tech.
"I’m talking to different people who have been successful in different areas and just see what its the best fit for me," he said. "I’m going to take my time and see what develops. And during that time, I’m going to spend more time with my family."
He will not be abandoning his love of golf entirely.
"I can enjoy it, not worrying about where I finish or making a cut," he said. "It should be like it was 20 years ago when it was really, really fun."