In a year where most people are finding themselves struggling to survive, Chad Collins is having the best year of his life.
For the professional golfer, 2009 has been a year of great success and lucrative earnings.
"This is the best year I have had on the tour," Collins said.
The pro has captured three second place finishes this year and on Sunday claimed his second tournament championship when he stroked a 30-foot putt to win the Miccosukee Championship in Miami by two strokes - all but securing his PGA card for next year.
"I didn't think I was going to get a win this year," Collins said about Sunday. "I was having an average performance from the tee to the green, but it was my chipping that saved me in some tough situations."
Collins' tournament win boosted his status in the money leaders rankings from eighth to second, with his yearly earnings peaking at $386,014 in the 24 events he has played in.
"I have had a lot of high finishes this year -- it has just been a solid year for me," Collins said. "And the only thing that I can pinpoint my success on is that I have more veteran experience this year.
"I think each year you learn something new from experiences whether it be good or bad, you gain knowledge and get a better handle on things," Collins added. "You get more familiar with the surroundings and your confidence gets higher."
Collins said that even during his amateur years he always improved the next season.
"It seems like that in my past professional and amateur years playing golf, I have always gotten better each year," Collins said. "I either made more money or my scoring average was better each year. A lot of the guys on this tour have roller coaster years where they are up one year and down the next."
Since his debut in 2005, Collins has increased his earning by an average of $25,000 each year. His biggest increase was from last year to this year -- a $46,000 increase. In 2008, Collins played on the PGA tour, where he made over $339,000 and this year he made over $386,000 and still has the tour championship to compete in.
"This has been my best year golf wise and it has been a blessing for me," Collins said
There are some who aren't surprised by Collins' success-like his old golf coach Tim Leedy.
"You could always tell that he had the drive in him, even at a young age, to be a great golfer," Leedy said. "The thing that made me realize how good of a player he was that he had an amazing short game. His chipping out of sand traps and areas of rough was just amazing.
"The other thing that he possessed was a strong mental toughness. He always focuses on what he is doing and never let his emotions get in the way," Leedy added
Collins' mom Linda Collins said that she isn't surprised at the success that her son has had and that this has always been a dream of his.
"He's been playing golf since he could walk and always said that he was going to play professionally," Linda said. "There are not too many kids that say in grade school that they are going to play on the PGA tour and stick with it.
"I'm just tickled to death that he is doing something that he has always dreamed of," Linda said. "He actually got his dream and not too many of us can say that."
One person who has been following Collins closely this year is Al Tucker, the man who helped finance Collins' career early on said that he has enjoyed every minute of it.
"Me and my wife have been all over the world following Chad and it has been a joy ride for both of us," Tucker said. "I'm not really surprised at his success after following him through his collegiate career. His college coach even said that he is one of the best golfers he ever had and that Chad could make it in the pros if he wanted to.
"And I think that he is more prepared to move up to the PGA tour this time than he was last time," Tucker said. "He has done nothing but improved each year."
Today, Collins is going to try to do something that he has eluded him every year since he joined the Nationwide Tour -- win the tour championship.
"I got a ton of confidence going into this week and I hope I'm good enough to win because that would be awesome," Collins said.
Collins will be going up against the top 60 players on the Nationwide Tour today with 35 of them trying to get in the top 25 and earn their PGA card.
When asked if there were any favorites to win he said yes -- anyone in the top 15.
"There are no cuts in this tournament," Collins said. "Everybody plays all four days and the guys on the bottom are trying to knock someone out of the top 25 to earn their cards and the ones in the top 25 are just trying to stay there.
Collins also mentioned that he doesn't have high expectations for this weekend; he is just going out to play and whatever happens happens.
"My goal this year was to finish in the top 10 on the money list and I have already surpassed that goal, so everything else is peaches and cream," Collins said.
Collins' best finish in the tour championship was 10th during his rookie year in 2005.