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Once a Golf Prodigy, Now on the Skids

Christine Cotter/For the New York Times

Outside the scorer’s trailer at PGA West on Monday, Henrik Norlander stood grinning with a piece of paper in his hand while a friend snapped a photograph with his smartphone camera. Norlander was holding the golf equivalent of a diploma, with an opening sentence that read, “Welcome to the PGA Tour.”

As Norlander was accepting congratulations for earning his 2013 tour card during the last stage of qualifying, a six-round Rorschach test, one of his final-day playing partners, Camilo Villegas, walked hurriedly by. Villegas, a three-time PGA Tour winner once stamped for superstardom, was in a rush, he said, to catch a flight after failing to regain his playing privileges.

The beauty and the beastliness of golf was there to behold in the rounds of Norlander and...

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