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The Tour – Fourth Round Sawgrass

FOURTH EVENT SAWGRASS RUCKHAUS TOUR

Though it was bizarre and still a bit unnerving, the golfers were getting more used to going to bed in one place and waking in another.

So, after hitting the sack on the Monterey Peninsula, they woke up in northeast Florida and, miraculously, without jet lag. OK, no jets were involved, but the three-hour time difference didn’t seem to affect anybody. The really old-timers–all the very old Scotsmen–still had trouble grasping the effect of time zones as, when they played, it might have been noon in London but ten minutes to twelve in St. Andrews. Or maybe it was the other way around.

Looking refreshed, as always, was The Chairman.

The first crew up would be the 251 golfers comprising the Ruckhaus Tour this week and he addressed them:

“Welcome to Sawgrass. For those who are unfamiliar, this course was designed by Pete Dye.” Many of the old timers looked quizzically at The Chairman. He could have said the course was designed by Mickey Mouse and it would have had the same meaning. For those who knew the difference, it still had the same meaning. “For those who don’t know,” continued The Chairman, “Mr. Dye has the reputation of designing what might be called ‘tricked up’ courses including railroad ties and other obstacles.”

Though it looked to be one of the older guys shouting out, The Chairman couldn’t ascertain who: “Railroad ties belong on a railroad, don’t they?”

“You’d think that,” said The Chairman, “but golf course design has changed quite a bit over the years. Some of you fellows might remember doglegs as having right angle turns, but there are few of those left as even many of the older courses which had them have been redesigned.

“Anyway, getting back to this course, it was a member of the Gerney Tour who once said about the greens that he had never had much luck stopping a 5-iron on the hood of a car. Fortunately, the greens here were softened up a bit not long after that was said and, though the course is still tricked up, the greens are far more approachable.

“With that in mind, for you gentlemen, this week’s event will start on the famed seventeenth hole. For those unfamiliar with the layout, I will say no more.”

Unlike in previous weeks, where the Ruckhaus Tour drew few people, the crowd surrounding the seventeenth hole was massive. After all, though this was the weakest of the three tours, there were still some pretty good golfers here and the crowd wanted to see both the look of surprise on the faces of those golfers unfamiliar with the hole as well as seeing how many of the 251 would end up in the water.

Though seeing the surprise on the faces of guys like Tommy Armour, the “Wee Scot” Bobby Cruickshank and Francis Ouimet were, alone, worth the price of admission, the number 51 also played a part.

51. That was the number of golfers whose first shot ended with a water landing. It also was the number of golfers who walked off the island green with birdie.

[Ed. note:] I keep all the scores on Excel. And, with some of the golfers, I wrote little notes–distance from the pin, a long putt made or even the third shot from the drop area also going into the water. But, when I sorted it out by score, the notes didn’t follow. But I hit “save” before I realized that and so I don’t remember who made the longest putt or exactly who put two balls into the water, though I remember Chi Chi being one of them. I can tell you that no one put three in and only one (and darned if I remember who) made it safely over with his tee shot–barely, landing in the little bit of rough–only to skull his chip into the water.

CAME THE CLOSEST TO WINNING THE CAR BUT HAD TO SETTLE FOR A SLEEVE OF BALLS, 10% OFF IN THE CLUBHOUSE SHOP AND THE PRIZE OF A NEW PUTTER (WHY?) AT THE BUFFET DINNER AFTERWARD:

Mike Morley, whose tee shot stopped exactly one inch from the hole.

OTHER STATS:

20 golfers landed within five feet of the pin. All made birdie.
Longest putt made: 44 feet. Who? Don’t remember.
Counting the 44 footer, six birdie putts were made from 20 feet or more.

THE NEXT HOLE FOR THE 51 SURVIVORS:

11. 558, par five.

Do you go for the green in two and risk the water and waste sand on the approach while shooting at a long narrow green with the pin up front and two nasty bunkers just in front and beyond the hole to the left? Or, do you lay up and hope to get up and down as a par score will likely end the golfer’s tournament for this week?

FOURTH EVENT SAWGRASS RUCKHAUS TOUR SECOND HOLE

The old golf axiom is “drive for show and putt for dough.” But, on a par five, you’d better drive long, especially if even something as good as a birdie may mean the end of your tournament.

With that in mind, the player who hit the longest drive had the most success on the eleventh hole, the second on the Ruckhaus Tour this week, as Peter Jacobsen’s 324 yard blast off the tee led to the only eagle among the 51 surviving golfers.

Following his long drive on the 555 yard hole, Jacobsen went at the pin with a 3-iron, stopping the ball twelve feet away, the only golfer to hold the green, and calmly drained the putt.

Three others had a serious go at the green after a long drive. Duffy Waldorf followed his 303 yard drive by landing his second in the further of the two deep bunkers on the left side. He settled for par. Larry Rinker’s 320 yard drive also turned into a par as he hit second shot a bit fat, landing in the waste bunker in front of the green. Sergio Garcia followed his 300 yard drive by pushing his second shot into the water. Taking a drop, he got up and down for par.

Mike Morley, who missed an ace on seventeen by an inch on the first hole of this tournament, had to lay up short with his second and couldn’t get up and down, settling for par.

Overall, besides Jacobson’s eagle, the distribution was 16 birdies, 28 pars, three bogeys and three doubles.

Jacobson earned $180,000 and a full Staffa Tour card for his efforts. As for the other 50 players who made it to the second hole and are splitting the lion’s share of the remainder of the one million dollar purse (or $15,572 for each), The Chairman will determine their fate based on how the Staffa Tour turns out this week. As of this moment, The Chairman is pondering an idea which he has yet to use on The Tour–an idea which would treat the 50 golfers equitably. The good news for 31 of the birdie shooters on the first hole: Guaranteed more than a minimum wage check this week (which happened to be a paltry $207), they won’t have to worry about being eliminated from the tour after week five, which is what will happen to all those golfers who have been eliminated on the first hole for the first five tournaments.

FOURTH EVENT SAWGRASS STAFFA TOUR – FIRST ROUND

When it opened in 1980, the superlatives flowed from members of the PGA Tour:

“It’s Star Wars golf, designed by Darth Vader.” -Ben Crenshaw
“I’ve never been very good at stopping a 5-iron on the hood of a car.” -Jack Nicklaus
“90 percent horse manure and 10 percent luck.” -JC Snead.

The 143 golfers comprising this week’s Staffa Tour got their first shot at Sawgrass. For many, including first round co-leaders Allan Robertson and Bob Hamilton, it was also their first look. Asked what he thought of the course after walking off eighteen with an 8-under 64, all Robertson said was “Not too bad, laddie.”

Robertson was one of the early risers, played among the first few groups out and was the first to post the 64. Starting off birdie-birdie, a 25 foot putt on five and a chip in on the par three eighth sent him out in 31. Back-to-back birdies on eleven and twelve, including getting up and down from 50 yards on the par-five eleventh, sent him to 7-under. Getting his first look at the island green on seventeen, at first his eyes opened wide in amazement, then he calmly stepped up and parked a 9-iron to within eleven feet, making the putt.

Hamilton got out in the afternoon and started out even faster than Robertson, with an eagle on two and birdies on three and four, making two long putts in the process (31 ft. on two and 32 ft. on four), sending him out in 30. Birdies on the inward par fives brought him home in 34. Seventeen brought the same reaction as Robertson: Wide-eyed amazement at the hole and the immense crowd surrounding it followed by a short iron (in Hamilton’s case, a pitching wedge) and a safe landing. For Hamilton, it was followed by two putts and an easy par.

Behind those two is Hale Irwin, who would have been atop the leaderboard had it not been for bogeys at one and fourteen. Even still, he’s all alone in third with an impressive opening round 65.

Rounding out the early leaders are Ralph Guldahl, who came home in 30 thanks to birdies on the final four holes and shot 66 with a pair of front nine bogeys, and Herman Keiser, Fred Hawkins, Henrik Stenson, Tom Kite and Lionel Hebert, all at 67. Eight more are tied at 4-under 68, including Lionel’s older brother, Jay. Also in the 4-under group is Harold Hilton, who should have quit after fourteen as he finished bogey-birdie-bogey-bogey, the bogey on seventeen coming even after he had a safe landing but missing the green–and there’s not much to miss–and hitting a rotten chip shot.

Also with a rotten finish and someone who should have quit earlier than Hilton was David Duval. From thirteen on: Bogey-birdie-bogey-bogey-par-bogey. Even still, he came in at 69. Counting a bogey on four, that 69 came with five bogeys. Without them, he’d be up there with Robertson and Hamilton. If…

MOST MUNDANE ROUND:

Jonathan Kaye. Fourteen straight pars to start, then a total brain fart around the fifteenth green which netted him a double bogey. Undeterred, he smacked a 314 yard drive on sixteen, flirted with the water as he short-sided a 6-iron, then made the 15 footer for eagle. Then two more pars and a level par 72.

SHOT OF THE DAY:

Billy Burke on fifteen.

Burke couldn’t seem to get his engine started today, with a seventh hole bogey sending him out in 37. A bogey on ten was canceled out by a birdie on eleven. But a double and a bogey on thirteen and fourteen sent him to 4-over. At fifteen, he put his tee shot 300 down the middle. Facing 136 yards in, he put a 9-iron over the flag, located in the front left, and watched the ball back in. He followed that with a two-putt birdie on sixteen and he’d better do better than the 73 he had today if he wants to stick around for the weekend.

NOT ALL REVIEWS WERE GLOWING:

Ed Fiori, who with Maurice Bembridge, trailed the field with an 80.

Fiori went out in 40, thanks in part to bogeys on the final three holes of the front side. His mood brightened a bit with back-to-back birdies on eleven and twelve. But, approaches into the sand on fourteen and fifteen were worth bogeys, a flyer on sixteen ended up in the water in back of the green and that cost him another stroke. He’d seen seventeen before and still hated it. This time, he under-clubbed and made an offering to the water gods. That cost him two more strokes. The final insult came on eighteen. After a well-placed 3-wood off the tee, he hit a fat 6-iron and couldn’t get up and down from 35 yards.

After chucking his ball into the water upon finishing eighteen, Fiori was heard to say, “I hate this fucking course. Pete Dye should be shot.”

FOURTH EVENT SAWGRASS STAFFA TOUR – SECOND ROUND

The wind was up and so were the scores.

Surprisingly, the man who thought by many to be the most suited couldn’t handle it as Allan Robertson, yesterday’s co-leader and the first man to break 80 at St. Andrews (in 1858), almost came very close to that using much better equipment.

He started with a bogey on one as he missed the green and then a six-footer for par. An eagle on two got that stroke back and one more. But bogeys on three, five and a double on nine more than canceled out his fourth hole birdie and he went out in 39. Robertson’s back nine started out well enough even after hitting his tee shot short and into the waste sand as a 2-iron approach stopped four feet from the pin. A bogey on fifteen was canceled out by a birdie on sixteen. But it was eighteen which left a bad taste in his mouth as he pulled his 3-metal off the tee and into the water, eventually making a double and finishing with 75, eleven strokes worse than yesterday, falling into a tie for tenth.

The other co-leader after yesterday’s play, Bob Hamilton, started out birdie-birdie-birdie and ran his score to 11-under and, at one time four shots clear of the field.

Then he came down to earth as a tee shot into the water on five led to a double bogey while a tee shot way left on seven, landing on the wrong side of the water hazard, led to another double. Bogeys on three of the final five (though he did birdie seventeen) and Hamilton joined Robertson at 75 and in tenth place.

As for who benefited today, Anthony Kim shot up the leaderboard with a 7-under 65 and is three shots clear of the field at 10-under. A bogey on one appeared to be a bad omen. But Kim ran off consecutive birdies on four, five and six and went out in 34.

Kim saved his best work for the back nine, running off six birdies in seven holes.

On the par-five eleventh, he got up and down from 80 yards for birdie. On twelve, his approach stopped three feet from the cup. On the par-three thirteenth, he dropped a 17-foot putt for yet another birdie. A crisp 8-iron approach and a 10-foot putt on fourteen made it four birdies in a row. Getting up and down with a long bunker shot on fifteen salvaged par. But Kim got back to making birdies as he reached in two and two-putted the par-five sixteenth and got the crowd roaring by hitting a flawless pitching wedge on seventeen to within a foot of a hole-in-one. Sadly, Kim’s poor tee shot on eighteen saw him finish with a bogey.

Also coming in with a 65 was the man who finished second at Pinehurst two weeks ago, Dow Finsterwald. He’s tied for second at 7-under with David Duval (68).

As with Kim, Finsterwald saved his best work for the back nine, running off four straight birdies between fourteen and seventeen. Finsterwald had the putter working in that stretch, canning a 16-footer on fourteen and a 14-footer on seventeen after just managing to clear the water. As with Kim, a poor tee shot on eighteen with the wind in his face saw Finsterwald take three shots to reach the par four then two-putting for bogey.

Duval, with a 69 yesterday despite a generally poor final six holes, played a superb back nine, a 5-under 31 and coming in with a 68. Like Kim and Finsterwald, he had trouble off the eighteenth tee, spraying a 3-metal short and in the rough. But a 4-iron hit low into the wind stopped 10 feet from the hole and he made the putt for birdie.

Rounding out the top ten: Bob Ferguson (69 today and with one of the shots of the day), Jay Haas, Skee Riegel (with the other shot of the day) and Dan Forsman (all with 70), Ralph Guldahl (72) and Hale Irwin (73) are all tied at 6-under. There’s a four-way tie for tenth, including Robertson and Hamilton with Curtis Strange (69) and Lionel Hebert (72) completing the foursome. Lionel’s brother, Jay, also in the top ten yesterday, shot an even-par 72 and is in fourteenth at 4-under.

SHOTS OF THE DAY:

Bob Ferguson on three. 176 yards with an 8-iron…Wind at his back…Pin center-right…And the ball rolls in!

Skee Riegel on the island green at seventeen. 131…Pin on the front left with a hard wind right to left…A pitching wedge over the pin…And it’s backing up…And the ball rolls in!
CUT LINE:

+2, with 73 golfers making it to the weekend.

Barely making it: Paul Runyan, who followed his 68 yesterday with a 78 today. Good thing he ran out of holes as he pulled a 9-iron into the water on seventeen–the wind didn’t help him much either–and couldn’t get up and down from 35 yards on eighteen, walking off with bogey.

Not making it: Dave Hill, who followed his 68 yesterday with an 80 today. His tee shot on four led to a triple bogey and he finished with a double on eighteen as he put his approach into the water.

And what about Ed Fiori, who was cursing after shooting an 80 yesterday? Well, he did better today, as five bogeys and a birdie netted him a 76. He still missed the cut by ten.

And then there was Franklin Langham. Poor guy, as the par threes bit him in the ass.

On three, he hit into the bunker and just hacked away after that, three-putting from 16 feet and taking a six. On eight, he pulled a 3-iron way left under the trees, managed to actually get close to the green with his second and two-putted from just off the green for a four. Thirteen wasn’t lucky for Langham as he pulled a 7-iron into the water, ending up with a double. And then there was seventeen. Into the water with his tee shot, he also came up short hitting from the drop area. Five made the green but nowhere close to the hole and he three-putted from 37 feet for a snowman. Not quite finished yet, he put his approach on eighteen into the water as well. 48 on the back nine! 89 overall and dead last, five shots clear of his nearest competition (Lucas Glover, 78-81).

FOURTH EVENT SAWGRASS STAFFA TOUR – THIRD ROUND

Journeyman pro Mark Hayes came from out of nowhere to vault to the top of the leaderboard. Of course, in this crowd, you can be sure he has company.

Hayes was killing the ball today, hitting twelve of fourteen fairways while driving at a 320 yard clip. That led to his hitting fifteen greens in regulation.

He got out of the gate quickly with birdies on the first three holes. He overshot the green on one but dropped a 32 foot putt from just off the back for a three. On the par five next hole, he flirted with danger, taking his second shot over the water and trees but landing in the rough about 25 yards short then getting up and down for a four. A 25-foot putt on the par three third and he quickly moved to 6-under for the tournament. Going out in 30, another three birdie run on eight, nine and ten got him to 10-under. A birdie on the par three thirteenth and another on the par five sixteenth and Hayes was the first of a threesome in at 12-under.

One of the others was yesterday’s leader, Anthony Kim. Starting the day at 10-under, Kim was all over the place today but managed to have more birdies (five) than bogeys in shooting a 70.

Kim’s scrambling game was sporadic. On four, he got up and down for par. But on five, he couldn’t, two-putting from ten feet. He got up and down from off the back of the green on the par three eighth but couldn’t do so on ten, again two-putting from ten feet. Just off the green on thirteen, he three-putted from 37 feet but rebounded to get up and down for birdie on sixteen.

The other member of the triumvirate at 12-under is Hale Irwin.

Starting the day at 6-under, Irwin birdied one, thanks to an approach which stopped two feet from the cup, and two, getting on in two on the par five and two-putting. He added another birdie on five before depositing his tee shot in the water on six and taking a two-bagger. Then he played the next nine holes in 6-under, including dropping a 30-footer on eleven for birdie but two-putting from ten feet on sixteen, getting a birdie nonetheless. Irwin would have been the leader going into the final round if not for a disappointing bogey on seventeen. Hitting short but still dry, Irwin had to chip but couldn’t get up and down, missing an 11-footer for par.

Also with an impressive move up the leaderboard was John Huston, with an 8-under 64. He’s tied with Ralph Guldahl (67) at 11-under, one behind the leaders.

Huston had a run of four birdies in five holes on the front side thanks to spot-on approaches. Two-putting from fifteen feet for birdie on the par five second, his tee shot on the par three third landed four feet away. His approach on four to a tough back right pin location stopped ten feet away and he bested that with and sand wedge to within two feet on six. Out in 32, he was equally as good on the back nine, finishing with a 5-iron approach on eighteen to within a foot of an eagle.

Rounding out the top thirteen (thanks to a six-way tie for eighth): Bob Ferguson (68 today) and Dow Finsterwald (69) tied for sixth at -10, and first round leader Allan Robertson (68) along with Lionel Hebert (68), Jay Hebert (67) Willie Anderson (66), Harold Hilton (67) and David Duval (70).

FOURTH EVENT SAWGRASS STAFFA TOUR – FINAL ROUND

Three players started the final round tied for the lead at 12-under. The two in the final group were on witness protection by the back nine. Not to worry, as a couple others were quick to take their place.

Just for fun, let’s have the CBS crew call the action. Why? Because NBC sucks and Kelly Tilghman is a no-talent dike. Besides, those Golf Channel people will put you to sleep. The cast of characters: Jim Nantz (JN), Nick Faldo (NF), Peter Oosterhuis (PO) is working 17, Gary McCord (GM) is on 16, Ian Baker-Finch (IBF) on 15 and David Feherty (DF) and Peter Kostis (PK) are wandering the course. There might be stuff you won’t hear on TV.

JN: Let’s go out to thirteen. Anthony Kim, putting for birdie to go to 17-under.
(After an 8-iron to 12 feet, Kim made the putt.)
JN: Just finishing up on eighteen, Ben Hogan. Bogey on one then eight birdies since. Facing nearly 60 feet for birdie. That’ll get him to 14-under. Needs some people to back up past him but he should be back on the Gerney Tour next week.
NF: Be nice to play against him.
GM: How’d you do last week?
NF: Screwed up the last round. Finished in 41st. Picked up about thirty grand. How did you do?
GM: If I get a hold of that Gerney guy, I’ll tell him a thing or two. Might even introduce him to my 5-iron.
DF: Didn’t play again?
GM: Dreck like Mac O’Grady is on the damn tour. Where am I? Watching golfers hit into sixteen.
PK: That’s OK. Probably make more money broadcasting than playing anyway.
GM: Why don’t you go and blow Tiger Woods again.
(Hogan two-putted eighteen, finishing with 65 and is the leader in the clubhouse at 13-under.)
JN: Now, now, boys. Out to seventeen.
PO: David Duval on the tee. 13-under. Birdied the last two. What’s he got there David?
DF: Sand wedge.
PO: 136. Is that enough club?
DF: We’ll find out in a minute.
(Duval hit his tee shot fat and into the water)
DF: Guess it wasn’t enough. That’ll cost him one, maybe two.
JN: Back to fourteen.
IBF: John Huston. Started at 11-under. Ran off four birdies in a row on the front side before bogeying twelve. 15-under now. 193 with a 6-iron.
(Huston flew over the pin and watched his ball back up to within five feet.)
IBF: What a shot! He could close to within one of Kim.
JN: Let’s go back to fourteen tee. Anthony Kim, fresh off a birdie on thirteen to send him into the lead at 17-under.
DF: Oh, goodness, did he get a hold of it. Might have even out-drove the fairway. What do they call a shot like that…a Princess Di? Shouldn’t used the driver.
NF: Damn Irish guys. No respect for royalty.
(Kim, pounding the ball 341, did indeed out-drive the fairway)
JN: Out to sixteen.
IBF: Willie Anderson. Started the day at 9-under. Now at 14-under. Going for it in two. 4-iron from 221.
(Anderson darned near flew the green but stayed up on the very back.)
IBF: Looked like he ate his Wheaties. Wonder if they had Wheaties back when he played. Hey Peter, you’re old enough. Did they have Wheaties back in Anderson’s day?
PK: You know what? I think I’m going to get a hold of that Swing Vision and analyze my swing right against your skull.
(Anderson two-putted from 35 feet to move to 15-under, two behind Kim.)
JN: Back to fourteen.
NF: Speaking of eating his Wheaties, Kim pounded his driver 340 then unloaded on a pitching wedge, flying the green. Not the best chip in the world and he’s staring down a 15-footer just to make par.
(Kim missed and dropped a stroke.)
JN: The lead is only one. Out to fifteen.
IBF: Huston, just a moment ago…172 with an 8-iron. Nice shot. Not much left. Back to live action. Only nine feet left to pull even…
(Huston made the putt.)

JOHN HUSTON -16 15

ANTHONY KIM -16 14
WILLIE ANDERSON -14 16
BEN HOGAN -13 F

JN: Out to seventeen. Bob Ferguson’s been on a run.
PO: But he’ll likely run out of holes. Started the day at 10-under. Dropped to seven after a double on nine. But he’s run off four birdies in a row to get it back to 11-under. Pitching wedge.
(Ferguson darned near hit the stick, his ball stopping two feet away.)
PO: What a shot! That’ll get him to 12-under. Hogan’s already in at 13. So he’ll have to birdie eighteen to have any chance at all.
(Ferguson made the putt.)
IBF: On sixteen. Huston hit his driver to here (right rough, 226 out). Tough angle to go at it. What’s he got there, Peter?
PK: 4-iron.
IBF: Going for it?
PK: Don’t think so but is looking to get a good angle to get up and down.
(Huston pulled his ball left, landing in the trap about 60 yards out.)
IBF: Not a good one. He’ll likely walk out with a five, but par just won’t help him.
JN: Willie Anderson on eighteen. One behind the leaders and obviously needs birdie here.
NF: Obviously. Left himself good position. 198. What’s he got there, David?
DF: 7-iron.
NF: I know the new equipment has done him a world of good over those hickory-shafted things they called clubs back then. But that’s not going to be enough club. And with the water on the left–he might jump all over this and yank it in there.
(Anderson hit straight, but short, landing on the green but leaving 55 feet for birdie.)
DF: You were right, Nick.
NF: Told you, David, have some respect for royalty.
DF: Siiiiirrrrr Nick Faldo.
NF: How did you do this week, knave?
DF: Finished up just before we went on the air. Picking up two checks today. One from The Chairman and another from Les Moonves–the other Chairman.
NF: Wait until he finds out you’re double-dipping.
(Anderson two-putted to finish at 15-under, now the leader in the clubhouse.)
JN: Ferguson on the eighteenth tee.
DF: Very conservative. Didn’t come close to me.
JN: Only hit a 3-iron.
DF: That explains it. He’ll have over 250 to get in.
JN: Back to sixteen
IBF: Huston, a couple minutes ago…
(Huston hit out of the sand, getting on the green in three on the par five.)
IBF: Huston hit his putt to here and is now cleaning up.
(Huston made the three-footer to remain at 16-under.)
IBF: Back to the tee. Here’s Kim.
(Kim smashed a 310 yard drive down the middle.)
PO: Huston on the tee at seventeen. What’s he hitting, Peter?
PK: Pitching wedge.
PO: Uh, oh. Watch out.
(Huston got a little extra on his shot, his ball managing to just miss rolling off the back and into the water.)
PO: He won’t have much of a stance to chip back on.
NF: Beats the alternative, I suppose. Back to sixteen.
IBF: Kim from 198. 6-iron. I’d guess he’s not going to do anything fancy here and just aim for the center, two-putt and pick up a stroke. He heard something coming from seventeen but has no idea what Huston just did. All he knows is that they’re tied at 16-under.
(Kim went for the center and left himself 27 feet for eagle.)
IBF: There are other people playing here too. Ralph Guldahl is paired with Kim. Rough day for him. 7-over. He put his second in the water. This is his fourth.
(Guldahl hit a 9-iron from 156 to 13 feet and subsequently made the putt, saving par.)
PO: Here’s Huston on seventeen. Not an easy shot. Oh, my, what an effort!
(Huston chipped to within six feet.)
PO: Finsterwald is next. 11-under. Started the day at 10-under and been a bit of a forgotten man playing alongside Huston. Just managed to clear the lone bunker with his tee shot.
(Finsterwald chipped on and dropped a six-footer for par.)
PO: Huston surveying. About the same distance as Finsterwald. The rule of thumb is that putts break toward the water. But what happens when there’s water all around you?
DF: Pray.
(A groan from the crowd as Huston rims the cup and drops a shot.)
PO: Kim’s staring down an eagle on sixteen and is almost certain to get a birdie. We’re looking at a two-shot swing. Back to sixteen.
IBF: Kim’s not going to do anything fancy here. Just get it close and two putt. They haven’t posted Huston’s score here yet. Wait. Now they have.
(Kim picks up the buzzing through the crowd and backs off his shot.)
IBF: Kim ready now.
(Raucous cheering as Kim hits the bottom of the cup for an eagle and a three shot advantage with two to play.)

ANTHONY KIM -18 16
JOHN HUSTON -15 17
WILLIE ANDERSON -15 F
BEN HOGAN -13 F
BOB FERGUSON -12 17

JN: Back here on eighteen. Ferguson came into here with five straight birdies. After a short tee shot in the rough, he hit a 2-iron over 250 to here.
(Ferguson drained a 15-footer to finish with six consecutive birdies, tying Hogan for fourth.)
JN: Great finish by Ferguson.
NF: Guess I’ll be seeing him next week too.
JN: Any idea where you guys are playing next week?
NF: That Chairman guy is a slippery fellow. I mean, to be playing on this tour is an honor, but he keeps you in the dark until almost the first tee. Very unnerving. But the money’s good, so you take the good with the bad.
JN: You’ve picked up three nice checks so far this young season, Sir Nick. Over $600,000.
NF: Like I said…
JN: Kim on seventeen.
PO: What’s he got there, David?
DF: Pitching wedge.
PO: Heading in the same direction as Huston. Uh, oh, this could be trouble.
(Kim’s ball takes one hop off the bulkhead and into the water.)
DF: Good thing he had that eagle on the last hole. But there’s no margin for error from here out.
JN: Huston on the eighteenth tee. Technically still three back. But it might only be one. Fairway metal.
(Huston puts a 3-metal 270 down the middle.)
PO: Here’s Guldahl’s tee shot. It’s a beauty.
(Guldahl hit a pitching wedge to within nine feet.)
NF: Finsterwald first to go on eighteen. He hasn’t played badly. Will finish in the top ten, which means he’s heading up to the Gerney Tour next week. With Kim and Huston and Hogan and Ferguson, he’s just sort of been forgotten about today. Safely on.
(Finsterwald’s 6-iron lands on the green, but he has 50 feet left.)
PO: Kim from the drop area. Oh, boy. Not good.
(Kim’s chip is safely on–barely. He still has 50 feet for bogey.)
PO: Back to eighteen.
JN: Huston now.
DF: He knows he’s only one back–or will know in a minute.
JN: What’s he got there?
DF: 7-iron from 203.
NF: Seems like a conservative play. Either he’s willing to accept second place, is betting on Kim to choke again on eighteen or is really pumped up and thinks he can get here with a 7-iron.
DF: I think it’s choice “B.” We’ve all stood on the tee after botching the previous hole. You don’t think pretty thoughts.
NF: You try to compartmentalize–say that hole is done and this is a new one. Doesn’t always work out that way.
(In the meantime, Huston’s 7-iron lands safely on the green, but he’ll have 65 feet to two-putt for par.)
NF: Maybe a bit too conservative.
DF: Might have hit it a bit fat, too.
JN: Back to seventeen.
PO: Kim has 50 feet just to make bogey… Good effort
(Kim putts to within three feet and makes that for an untimely double bogey. Guldahl made birdie.)

KIM -16 17
HUSTON -15 17

JN: Huston, a long way for birdie.
NF: He’s just trying to get close. He doesn’t want to get stupid–get too aggressive and three putt. If he makes four here, it forces Kim to stay dry off the tee, a tall order here and especially after a water landing on the last hole.
(Huston putts to within two feet and makes his par putt.)
JN: Nice piece of putting by Huston. Back to the tee.
DF: Guldahl first to go. Just playing safe and hoping to get out of here quickly.
(Guldahl hit a 3-iron to the right side of the fairway. He has about 230 left to go.)
DF: Kim’s next.
NF: Looks like an iron in his hand.
DF: Yep. 3-iron. Just wants to stay dry. If he does that, a bogey and a playoff is worst case scenario.
(Kim hits a solid shot down the right side of the fairway about 255. He’ll have about 220 in.)
JN: Nice shot by Kim.
DF: Guldahl will be first to play. 5-iron from 237.
(Guldahl mis-hits it and comes up short, leaving a testy shot from the front bunker.)
NF: That wasn’t good.
DF: So much for getting out of here quickly.
JN: Kim’s next.
DF: 6-iron from 222.
NF: He could probably use another club. Looks like he just wants to hit the green.
JN: He’s going to have some work left.
PK: You know they have people with lasers all over the place here and can tell you how far a shot is hit or how much is left in just a second. Takes all the guesswork out. Kim has 53 feet.
DF: He’s not making it easy on himself, is he?
NF: The good news is that he stayed dry.
JN: Here’s Guldahl. Long bunker shot.
(Guldahl lands 14 feet away.)
JN: Nice effort in a tough spot. Kim looking at his putt.
PK: Kind of like Huston. Nothing fancy. Just get close.
(Kim comes up four feet short.)
JN: He’s not done yet.
NF: Really easy to get the ‘yips’ on a putt like this. At this point, a playoff isn’t an option because, if he misses here, he goes in bogey-bogey.
(Kim takes a couple different looks at his putt then sets up.)
JN: For the win.
(Crowd cheering as Kim’s putt is dead center.)
JN: Kim hanging on for an impressive victory over a late charging John Huston and Willie Anderson. It’s a full-time Gerney card for the youngster.

The top ten move on to the Gerney Tour for next week. In order: Kim, who was a provisional Staffa member and one cut away from the Black Hole of Calcutta (-16), gets the full Monty, season-long membership on the Gerney Tour. Then it’s Huston and Anderson (both -15), Hogan and Ferguson (both -13), Duval, Robertson, Finsterwald and Jay Hebert (all -11) and, in a three-way tie for tenth, Hayes, who was one of yesterday’s leaders, Burke and Hilton (all -10). Hale Irwin, the third of the crew who led at -12 after yesterday’s play, shot 76 and finished tied with Loren Roberts (the winner of the French Stewart lookalike contest) for thirteenth at 8-under.

FOURTH EVENT SAWGRASS GERNEY TOUR – FIRST ROUND

It was a shooting gallery on day one for the 115 players on the Gerney Tour this week as 79 broke par.

It was Scott Hoch who got out of the gate fastest of all, birdieing the first four holes. But he couldn’t sustain that, rather, only maintaining it, and he finished at 4-under.

68 isn’t bad, but there are 24 players in front of Hoch and eleven others he’s tied with.

Alone at the top is Justin Rose, with a 9-under 63. Rose did his best work on the back nine, with four birdies and an eagle in the space of six holes.

Coming into twelve at 3-under, Rose hit his pitching wedge approach over the flag and left himself a ten-footer which made. On the par-three thirteenth, he hit a 7-iron to within two feet and another birdie. After a routine two-putt par on fourteen, Rose hit under the hole on fifteen and drained a 19-foot putt. He hit a ballsy approach on the par-five sixteenth. With the pin on the right front and 215 yards of mostly carry, he aimed a 3-iron right at the pin, stopping within three feet and making that for an eagle. Not done yet, he hit safely on the island green at seventeen and made an 11-footer for birdie. Eighteen was a two-putt par as he came home in an impressive 30.

Lee Trevino, Lloyd Mangrum and Mike Souchak are right behind Rose, each shooting 64s. As with Rose, each ramped it up on the back nine.

For Trevino, it was a 5-under run from fourteen through seventeen. As with Rose, he eagled sixteen, but he really flirted with danger as his 4-iron approach almost went into the water, just managing to stop on the limited amount of short grass between the green and a penalty stroke. From 23 feet, Trevino elected to putt and it landed right in the center of the cup (the result was a “1,” so I took a bit of poetic license).

Mangrum also had a 5-under run, but it took him six holes, no thanks to a bogey on thirteen. He also eagled sixteen. Playing safely toward the center of the green, his 36-footer was a no-doubter (also a “1”).

Souchak, with pars on thirteen and fifteen, had a 6-under run in a seven-hole stretch. As with the other three, he, too, eagled sixteen. After blasting a 313-yard drive, he was left with only a 6-iron and took dead aim at the pin, his ball stopping just two feet away for a “gimmie” three.

As for the rest of the top ten (eleven, actually, counting the tie for tenth), it’s a regular rogue’s gallery at 7-under, Phil Mickelson, Arnold Palmer, Art Wall, Sam Snead and Johnny Miller all tied with Chip Beck and Lawson Little tied at 6-under.

NOT A HAPPY MAN: The only golfer not to break 80 under today’s benign conditions was Jerry Kelly.

He started off well enough, birdieing the par five second. After that, he went 4-over through the next four including bludgeoning his next tee shot on the par three third, Mickey Mantle-ing (a dead yank) the ball into the creek and 40 yards short to boot, making double bogey for his efforts. Onto the back nine and, where lots of people were making at least birdie on sixteen (16 eagles, 56 birdies), Kelly put his second into the water and suffered through a double bogey. After a par on seventeen, Kelly put both his tee shot as well as his next shot (his third) into the juice finishing with a triple bogey seven and a 41 on the back side with seven pars. That’s horrible.

FOURTH EVENT SAWGRASS GERNEY TOUR – SECOND ROUND

Only serious golfers need apply as The Chairman witnessed the first under-par cut on The Tour. He ruminated: “Maybe this course is too easy” as it took 3-under to stick around for the weekend.

One player who disagreed with The Chairman was yesterday’s leader, Justin Rose. The only thing in his favor was that he shot an incredible 63 yesterday as even something as impressive as a 67 would have sent him packing.

Rose just couldn’t seem to find the handle today and went down faster than a five-dollar hooker. Yesterday, it was eight birdies and an eagle. Today it was one birdie, four bogeys and a bunch of pars. There wasn’t any one hole where he really fell off the rails. A pushed 7-iron on the par three fourth was worth a bogey as was hitting short on ten and chunking one in the rough. Water landings on sixteen and eighteen were worth an extra stroke each. 75, six-under so far and first to 37th in 24 hours.

As far as the top end of the leaderboard, Phil Mickelson was a modicum of consistency, shooting his second straight 65, his 14-under leading Johnny Miller, Old Tom Morris and Lee Trevino by one.

Mickelson started out his day with three birdies, mostly due to spot-on approaches leading to short putts. His five birdies on the front came on putts of five, eight, seven, three and five feet. Two more birdies on the back came from putts of six and five feet. Nothing spectacular for Pudge (or Figjam, as he’s known derisively among some of his contemporaries), just solid golf.

Miller started his day with a bogey then went 7-under over the next ten (all birdies) for his 66.

Old Tom was remarkably consistent. He birdied two, three, ten, fourteen, sixteen and seventeen yesterday. Today? Same thing, with extra birdies at seven and eleven. And he corrected yesterday’s bogey on the par three thirteenth, when he couldn’t get up and down, with a two-putt par from twelve feet today.

Trevino, with an impressive 64 yesterday, was a bit more subdued today before finishing with a flourish. Nine straight pars started the day before getting birdies on ten and thirteen. He then two-putted from 55 feet for birdie on sixteen, drained a 13-footer for birdie on the island green and put a 4-iron on eighteen to six feet, making that for a birdie as well.

Among the spectacular, Lanny Wadkins and Gary Player each shot the lowest score of the day: 63.

For Player, it was a quick start, with an eagle and five birdies and a 29 front side. The eagle was especially impressive as Player nailed a 2-iron from 242 to within nine feet. Player was Rose in reverse as he started with 74 yesterday and is tied for 24th at 7-under.

After a bogey on five, Wadkins went 10-under the rest of the way while shooting 29 on the back nine. His 3-iron from 231 stopped three feet from the cup on sixteen with Wadkins converting that for eagle. That started an eagle-birdie-birdie finish as he parked a pitching wedge to within three feet on seventeen with a 2-iron approach from 233 leading to an eleven-foot putt for birdie on the last. With a 69 yesterday, Wadkins is all alone in fifth at 12-under, two back of Mickelson.

SHOTS OF THE DAY:

No holes in one or people dialing long distance. The par fives were handing out eagles today, most notably two (fifteen) and sixteen (eighteen). Nine and eleven weren’t giving away today–only one each.

Gene Sarazen was the only man to cash in on nine, as he holed out from 81 yards. That helped him on his way to a 66 today and 6-under for the tournament. He’ll be around for the weekend.

Vijay Singh, in much better shape at 9-under, holed out from 56 yards on the eleventh. He also shot 66 today and is tied with three others for twelfth place.

ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN: Arnold Palmer (68 today), Mike Souchak (69) and Bruce Devlin (65, and who ran off six consecutive birdies after starting his round with a bogey) are tied for sixth at 11-under. Phil Rodgers (66), Dick Mayer and Tom Lehman (both 67) are in a three-way tie for ninth.

MISSED BY THAT MUCH:

Scott Hoch needed par to make cut. But he bogeyed eighteen after missing the green then hitting a poor chip. Then again, Hoch should take a closer look at the eleventh hole. After hitting his tee shot into the trees, he pitched out then put his third into the water. Five went into the front greenside bunker and it took him two to get out (time to use the hand wedge), eventually finishing with a nine.

Jacky Cupit landed just safely on 17 then chunked his next, hitting off the side of his club and sideways into the water. He took a six and missed the cut by one.

Lawson Little. Put two in the water on 18 and took a seven. He missed the cut by one.

Skip Alexander. Shot 67 after a 75 yesterday and needed to one-putt from twenty feet on eighteen to stick around for the weekend. He two-putted.

NEEDING A CUT MAN (R=Relegated and not all the cuts, but all the relegations)

Miller Barber, Jesper Parnevik, David Toms, Bob Goalby (R), Frank Beard (R), Walter Hagen, Andrew Strath (R), Willie Park, Sr., Mark O’Meara (R), Ken Venturi, Jerry Heard (R), Zach Johnson, Ernie Els, Tony Lema, Jack White (R), Sam Byrd (R), George Bayer (R).

And finally, Jerry Kelly picked up where he left off yesterday. The only man to be on the wrong side of 80, he finished yesterday with a triple bogey and 41 on the back nine. Today, he went out in 40. He recovered nicely with a 33 on the back nine. But 80-73 missed the boat by twelve.

FOURTH EVENT SAWGRASS GERNEY TOUR – THIRD ROUND

The wind was up today and so were the scores–by about 2 ½ strokes. Some, like Leo Diegel and Gene Littler improved, both the tune of four strokes over yesterday, which marked the largest improvement of any of the 76 golfers still playing. Both are tied for seventeenth at 9-under. Others, including everyone at the top of the leaderboard backed up a bit from yesterday though all shot par or better.

Phil Mickelson, who led yesterday, led after today’s play too, though Johnny Miller came up to join him.

For Mickelson, after a pair of 65s, it was a more mundane 69. After birdies on one and two, Mickelson sort of meandered around the course, with three bogeys and a birdie until he stepped up to the sixteenth tee. Then he seemed to get his game back in gear as he got up and down for birdie at the par five, put a nine iron within five feet at the way back pin placement on the island green, then followed that by landing on the short grass with his second just to the right of the eighteenth green and slam dunking a putt from 21 feet for another birdie (A result of “1” is a slam dunk. So says me.).

Miller seemed to meander about too, but one stroke better than Mickelson as a birdie on one was immediately canceled by a bogey on two. Same thing for five and six. Then a birdie on seven, thanks to a nice 9-iron approach and a ten-foot putt started a 3-under through the next eight run before a bad tee shot behind a palm tree led to a fifteenth hole bogey. But sixteen was nice, as a 300 yard tee shot and a 6-iron to a very approachable pin led to a five-footer for eagle. Seventeen and eighteen were both “go for the center of the green and make par,” which he did.

In real life, it would make a heck of a final pairing: The pompous and arrogant Miller going up against the conceited Mickelson. Yes, they both can play some golf.

ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:

Bruce Devlin (68 today) is all alone in third at 15-under. Lee Trevino’s 71 saw him drop two shots to the leaders. He’s tied with Phil Rodgers (68) in fourth at 14-under. Old Tom Morris’ 72 saw him drop three strokes. He’s tied with Tom Lehman (69) in sixth at 13-under. And, in a four-way tie for eighth, Harry Vardon and Gary Player (each with 68), each picked up a stroke on the leaders while Marc Calcavecchia (69) stayed even and Mike Souchak (72) dropped three with all four at 11-under. Arnold Palmer’s 73 saw him drop four strokes. He’s in a five-way tie at 10-under.

SHOTS OF THE DAY:

Both came on the eighth hole, a par three playing at 223.

Colin Montgomerie. With the wind at his back Monty chose a 4-iron. With the pin in the back right and a trap in front just waiting for a wayward shot, Montgomerie carried that, watched his ball hit the green–and there’s not much to work with over there–and roll in! Alas, Montgomerie shot five over for the final five, including putting two into the water at seventeen and, after starting the day at 7-under and maybe edging into contention with a score in the upper 60s, he finished with a 76.

Two hours later (about a minute or so in Chairman time), Souchak arrived on eight. His choice was a 5-iron. Same result as Montgomerie. But, as mentioned earlier, the ace helped Souchak as he’s still in the top ten–barely–as a routine par would have knocked him back into a tie for seventeenth at eight back and he’d likely have no chance in the final round.

And, as for our first round leader, Justin Rose… He dropped like a rock yesterday, going from 63 to 75. Today, he fell further over the precipice as a birdie, six bogeys and a double added to a 79. First after day one, at 1-over for the tournament, there are now only two other people behind him, Bobby Nichols and Dave Marr, both at +5.

FOURTH EVENT SAWGRASS GERNEY TOUR – FINAL ROUND

After a benign first two rounds, the wind was up again and the course played even a bit tougher than yesterday. From Friday to yesterday the scoring went up by nearly 2 ½ strokes (from 69.90 to 72.22). With the same 76 golfers as yesterday, scoring was up about another ¾ of a stroke, to 73.04. And, in a match between Phil Mickelson and Johnny Miller, it was Miller who blinked, to the tune of five strokes and about a million three.

Miller would occasionally show flashes of brilliance but seemed to have more periods of darkness. Hell, the last two holes alone cost him sole possession of second place and $600,000.

The par three third saw Miller three putt from six feet. He recovered, sort of, to par four, landing on the wrong side of the green and two-putting from 45 feet. Well, maybe he didn’t recover as five was a disaster starting with a tee shot in the water. Three out of the rough came up short and in the sand and it took him three to get up and down. Add ‘em all up and it was a double bogey. But he bounced back with an approach to three feet on six that was worth birdie before his approach on seven betrayed him and he made bogey. But then a 31 foot putt on the par three eighth sort of turned things around for Miller for a bit.

Onto the back nine, and Miller played 3-under for the first seven, including an eagle on sixteen. Then came the final two. Though he was 1-under for the round, he was sort of out of it, as it would have taken birdies on the final two just to pull even with Mickelson. And, since he was all over the road today, that might have been a tall order, the eagle on sixteen notwithstanding.

Seventeen sealed his fate as he put a 9-iron over the green and into the water, eventually making a double bogey five. Unlike more than a few folks, he actually kept his ball dry on eighteen. But he put his second shot about 20 yards right of the green and took three to get up and down. If Miller parred the final two, he would have been all alone in second, a difference of $600,000.

As for Mickelson, who led for the final three rounds, he started slow, with bogeys on one and three and birdies on two and four. But then the inconsistency took a hike for the rest of the day and he played 4-under up until the last. Mickelson showed a bit of everything, starting with a birdie on six. On that one, he overshot the green and chipped in. He went for the green on the par five eleventh, landing in the waste bunker in front of the green. But he put a long bunker shot within three feet and walked away with birdie. A 12 foot putt was worth another birdie on fifteen and he two-putted for birdie on the par five sixteenth.

Up four coming into the last, Mickelson played eighteen very conservatively, with a 2-iron into the right side of the fairway, a 4-iron short and right and a wedge and two putts.

For Mickelson, it’s his first win of the young season and, with $1.8 million today, his third check over $100,000.

Back to Miller… His 74 saw him back up past two people and finish fourth, those two people being Lee Trevino and Bruce Devlin, who finished tied for second, four shots back.

Trevino started out miserably, putting his tee shot in the water on one and making double before recovering to birdie the next three holes on his way to a 2-under 70 and 16-under for the tournament. Devlin played three over in a four-hole stretch between eight and eleven before recovering and playing four under for the next six, finishing that run by putting his tee shot on seventeen within five feet of the very tenuous Sunday pin placement on seventeen. Devlin shot a one-under 71 today.

ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:

Gene Littler came through with a 67 (tied with three others for the lowest round of the day) to finish all alone in fifth at -14. Littler did his best work in the windy conditions as he shot 3-under in the benign conditions of the first two days, barely making the cut, before going 11-under the rest of the way. If only he didn’t bogey fifteen and sixteen he might have finished tied for second. Art Wall (67), Jack Nicklaus (68) and Harry Vardon and Mark Calcavecchia (both 70) finished in a four-way tie for sixth at 13-under. And, in a three-way tie for tenth at 12-under were Leo Diegel and Tom Weiskopf (both 69) and Phil Rodgers, who dropped a bit with a 74 today.

BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT TODAY:

Greg Norman, who easily bested his 75 yesterday with one of those 67s. He eagled two, the third time he did that in this tourney, playing that hole in 7-under for the tourney, and added birdies on ten, twelve and thirteen and otherwise played bogey free, one of a very few to do that today. That helped Norman move into a tie for 25th and pick up a $78,000 check.

By |2017-02-13T11:23:09+00:00November 24th, 2011|The Tour Archives|Comments Off on The Tour – Fourth Round Sawgrass

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