RENO, Nev. -- Bob Heintz's economics degree from Yale no doubt helped make him a better businessman. But he's not an investor, accountant or developer. He's a 40-year-old professional golfer who has spent the past decade trying to make it on the PGA Tour.
He's never finished better than fifth but was tied for fourth, trailing co-leaders Robert Garrigus and Matt Bettencourt by only three strokes heading into Saturday's third round of the Reno-Tahoe Open.
"It's a business. I'm trying to make money this week," said Heintz, who has finished no better than fifth in his six full seasons on tour. "I would equate golf to being a salesmen. I mean, I travel around the country to different cities.
"If I play well, I make money. If I don't, they send me home."
He shot a 68 Friday to make the cut at 7-under 137 at Montreux Golf & Country Club on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.
"This week I've at least made the sale, now I just have to make it as big a commission as possible," he said.
Heintz, who turned pro in 1992, admits he recently considered giving up the game. His career earnings on tour total $1.9 million.
"You do your job well, your income potential is limitless. That's what I love about this job," he said. "To go somewhere else and work for a salary -- in some ways I'd welcome it because you know what you're getting every couple weeks and you can budget. But in this, I mean, what if I play great? Half a million sounds pretty good."
The $540,000 is the winner's share of the $3 million purse at Reno. It's about half of the $1.2 million top prize at the British Open with its purse of $8.6 million.
But for many of the journeymen at Reno this weekend, the first-class flights and private jets that many of the PGA's elite take for granted are as far away as St. Andrews.
"It's not as glamorous as everybody thinks it is," said Bill Lunde of Las Vegas, who spent much of the past decade on the Nationwide Tour before earning $825,691 with five top 25 finishes on the PGA tour last year.
"They just see TV and us walking on the fairways on these great golf courses," said Lunde, who has an economics degree from UNLV. "They don't see the lines at hotels and restaurants and airports."
When Will MacKenzie won in Reno in 2006, he told of his lean years living out of his van in Montana, being a beach bum in Costa Rica and selling hammocks in North Carolina before returning to the game he loves.
"I surfed for three months and I met some dude who made a fortune off of selling hammocks and I was like, all right, I'm in," MacKenzie said. "I went door to door selling them, but it didn't work. I was in debt huge."
John Rollins, the defending champ, said there's no let up in the competition.
"Guys are really fighting for their jobs," Rollins said. "It's an opportunity for a rookie or a second or third-year guy who hasn't won yet, where his status is kind of year to year."
Heintz sat in the clubhouse answering questions about how his season has gone so far.
"Terrible. Thinking about quitting," he said. "I used to be one of the best putters on this tour, and this year I'm literally anxious about 3-footers right now. So it's been a bad year."
"I wasn't expecting to be here this week, so I've been trying to see it as a real opportunity and play freely, which is what I haven't been doing."
Heintz has only made two cuts on the Nationwide Tour this season so was excited when he got the call last week that he was eligible to try to qualify as an alternate for that tour's Chiquita Classic outside Cincinnati.
He flew there last weekend from his home in Clearwater, Fla., and was on the course at TPC River's Bend when he was informed he could stop playing because a number of withdrawals had already put him in the field.
Heintz grabbed a new driver and practiced Monday before he was interrupted by another call -- this one from a PGA official with word so many people had dropped out in Reno that he'd made it into that field.
"So I flew here Tuesday morning," he said. "It's nice to be sitting in this room right now. I don't care if somebody passes me. I'm making money today and it's in Reno and it's more money than I'll make in Cincinnati."
And if in the end, if this golf business doesn't work out and he does quit the game, what might he end up doing?
"Hmmm, I don't know," Heintz said. "I have a Yale degree, so I'm not totally without some kind of credential."