Professional golfers know it well, and are often reminded: Every shot counts, and not just because you have to count every shot.
Scott Stallings, the 2011 Greenbrier Classic champion, has had his share of reminders in what could still be a breakout season. Take a recent week in Memphis, Tenn.
The 28-year-old from Knoxville, Tenn., flew from the Memorial Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, to Memphis, where he prefers to qualify for the U.S. Open.
That particular Monday is called "golf's longest day," a sunup-to-sundown ordeal of 36 holes. In the Memphis qualifier, 112 players battled for just nine spots in the Open field.
In all those holes, Stallings finished 4-under par, just good enough to join a 3-for-2 playoff. As it turned out, he lost. (He later made the Open as the top alternate.)
Later in the week, he woke up on Sunday three shots off the lead at the FedEx St. Jude Open and wiped that out with four birdies on the front nine. He parred the next five holes, but gave it away by chunking a wedge into a creek on the 15th, taking a double bogey.
Yes, he lost by those two strokes to Harris English.
"It's tough to win out here," Stallings said after his final-round 67 at the Memorial. "Everybody that finishes in the top 10 is a stroke or two from winning. It's one of those things where you feel fortunate every time that you have to be out here, every single day, and you never take anything for granted."
At the Memorial, he shot a wind-buffeted 75 in the third round to seemingly knock himself out of contention, but reeled off five birdies in six holes the next day to slice Matt Kuchar's lead to a stroke.
Kuchar eventually slammed the door on the rest of the field, but that came after Stallings knocked himself out - again with one shot, a 4-foot miss on the par-3 16th.
There were other punishing bad shots. Stallings had a third-round lead of five shots at the Humana Challenge in California, but lost that on a day in which players were posting 62s and 63s. Still, he had a chance to join a multi-player playoff, until he found the hazard and took a bogey on the 18th.
He has missed five cuts this year by a single stroke, and another one by two. Finally, at the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial, his patience was rewarded with a fourth-place finish. He followed that with a fourth at the Memorial, that runner-up finish at Memphis and he made the cut at the U.S. Open.
For all those critical missed strokes, Stallings fared well in that stretch, earning $1.06 million. He also rose from 139th to 76th in the world rankings and from 99th to 25th in the FedExCup standings.