EVENT #9 TPC SCOTTSDALE RUCKHAUS TOUR FIRST HOLE
Some of the older guys had trouble breathing. It seemed that, depending on where they came from, they either got used to breathing the damp stuff or, as some came from areas with factories, coal mines and the like–the stuff you could see before you inhaled. The warm, dry desert air just messed them up, at least at first. But they quickly got acclimated to 85 degrees, about fifteen percent humidity and not a cloud in the sky.
Desert golf would be something new for many. Sculpted holes, grass when necessary with tight fairways–tight, as in not the cushy sort of grass you might find in the northeast or Europe–and desert plant and animal life–like scorpions and snakes. But no trees to get in the way and very dry, lots of roll and low scoring.
The Chairman dealt with the 137 members of the Ruckhaus Tour first. Many knew the routine by now.
“I walked the course and played it as well,” the Chairman began. “I thought about starting you on sixteen, which is a most unusual hole. While it’s only a short par three, picture walking into a stadium and being surrounded by 30,000 people who wouldn’t hesitate too boo you for missing the green.” Many of those on the Ruckhaus Tour unfamiliar with this sort of golf made a note to stick around for the other two tour events and watch. The Chairman continued, “But I decided to start you on eleven. 460, par four. Water on the left, so a duck hook off the tee will quickly end your stay here. Desert stuff on the right. And, with a bunker on the left, I made sure that the pin was placed about five paces behind it. A shot to anywhere but the far right side of the fairway will most certainly leave a forced carry over the bunker. It’s an easy par hole as many, in normal play, might go driver or three metal, then medium to long iron to the center of the green, two putt and get out. But for a birdie? Different story. Some will continue on after this hole and many will not. Good luck.”
And, with that, The Chairman vanished. Some swore that there was a cactus near the tee which wasn’t there before. But, if it had the limbs on it, then it had to be at least 75 years old. And this one did, leaving many of the golfers just shaking their heads.
As mentioned, 137 teed off. Ten hooked their tee shots in the water and were immediately eliminated. A dozen more yanked their approach shots into the water and were also eliminated.
LONGEST DRIVE: Craig Wood, 343 yards. Left with a three-quarter wedge, he stuck his ball within two feet, which tied for the closest to the pin contest. He also sank the putt. Honorable mention: John Daly and Mike Turnesa at 334 and Emmett French at 333. Turnesa two-putted while French was one of the twelve who went into the drink on the second. Daly didn’t hit a great approach, leaving 26 feet. But he sank the putt and, as it turned out, it was the longest birdie putt made.
LONGEST PUTT FOR BIRDIE: Daly and Ed Sneed, 26 feet.
CLOSEST TO THE PIN: Wood, Bill Nary and Tim Herron, all two feet. Herron’s came after an 8-iron approach while Nary’s came after a 315 yard drive and a pitching wedge.
CHIP IN: Jumbo Ozaki was the only one. Short siding himself and almost going in the water, Ozaki definitely made the most of a bad situation and lives to play another hole.
SHORTEST MISS: Ernie Vossler, five feet. Honorable mention: Mike Sullivan, who missed a six-footer.
END RESULT: 18 birdies. Advancing (alphabetically): Woody Austin, Deane Beman, Aubrey Boomer, Pete Brown, Bobby Clampett, John Daly, Sergio Garcia, Tim Herron, Don January, Mac McLendon, Bob Murphy, Bill Nary, Jumbo Ozaki, Henry Ransom, JC Snead, Ed Sneed, Frank Stranahan and Craig Wood. All are guaranteed a trip to the Staffa Tour for at least next week’s event.
EVENT #9 TPC SCOTTSDALE RUCKHAUS TOUR SECOND HOLE
With only eighteen golfers remaining, it was a more intimate gathering as The Chairman explained what would happen next.
“This is the tenth hole. 405 yards, par four. Not overly long for any of you and all should be hitting no more than 7-iron into the green. The key is placing your tee shot. With a dogleg right and a large bunker at the inside corner just waiting for an errant shot or a long hitter who might have under-clubbed just a bit, the choice is either to play safe and leave about 140 yards or, if you have confidence in your driving, to take it over the bunker and leave a short pitch from about 90 yards. The second shot is about a half club uphill and the pin is tucked in the back left and only those who manage to flirt with danger on their tee shots and finesse the ball near the bunker won’t have the large bunker on the front left of the green to contend with. For the others, it’s forced carry to a small landing area as playing to the center of the green will leave a long putt. Good luck.”
In regular play, it would be a routine par hole for most and move on as even the heavy hitters might leave the driver in their bags. But, when birdie was the score to shoot for, it’s dial up the aggression and hope.
Six of the eighteen went with the driver. The others went with the 3-metal. Of the heavy hitters, Jumbo Ozaki, at 312 to the left side of the fairway, won the longest drive contest. But Craig Wood, at 309, wasn’t far behind. Renowned slugger John Daly duck hooked his drive into the bunker at the far corner of the dogleg, something which is almost never in play. Sergio Garcia went a little left and outdrove the fairway, as did Bill Nary. Aubrey Boomer pushed his drive right and ended up landing on the grass collar of the bunker. Those who went with the fairway metal all hit safely into the short grass.
Second shots: Some came up short and in the bunker while others overshot the green. None of those who missed the green were able to chip in. Others hit the green in regulation but there were no long birdie putts made. Matter of fact, the longest birdie putt made was a mere five feet.
Ozaki, he of the longest drive, came up a bit short on his pitch and missed a 12-footer. Tim Herron hit a full pitching wedge to eight feet and missed his putt as well. Ed Sneed’s 7-iron approach stopped five feet from the cup and Wood’s three-quarter pitch checked up two feet closer. Sneed and Wood made their putts and what started out at 137 golfers just two holes ago is down to two.
EVENT #9 TPC SCOTTSDALE RUCKHAUS TOUR THIRD HOLE
“Mr. Sneed. Mr. Wood,” began The Chairman. “Welcome to the seventeenth hole. For the long hitters, it’s a drivable par four–313 to the front of the green. At first, it would seem that the advantage would be with Mr. Wood. But that might not be the case. For one, the pin is on the far right side of the green at 335 yards. Miss right and be faced with a short-sided pitch. Accidentally overdraw or hook the ball and there’s water waiting to your left. Land on the green but short and you’ll be staring down a 50-foot putt or more. In other words, anything less than perfection could mean trouble. In other words, this is the ultimate risk/reward. As far as the shorter hitter is concerned, a long iron hit safely in the fairway should leave no more than 100 yards in. Just watch for the small bunker on the right side of the fairway at about 265. Good luck.”
Sneed was the first to tee off and went with a 3-iron. He didn’t hit it well, spraying it right a bit but still managing to land on the right side of the fairway. As he had no choice but to go at the pin with his second, there was no margin for error on the right. It wouldn’t be an easy shot, even with a pitching wedge.
Wood would have been considered negligent if he went with anything other than a driver. In the old days, his shot would have been considered as being hit “on the screws.” But, with today’s equipment, the general consensus of those watching was that he “hit the piss” out of it. It took off like a jet fighter and straight as an arrow. About 310 in the air, landing just short and rolling on, stopping pin high. The records would show that he had a 28-footer left for eagle.
At match play now and with Sneed looking to permanently escape golf’s version of Devil’s Island, he had to stick a pitching wedge as a two-putt par just would not do. Sneed had the distance. Unfortunately, and maybe trying to avoid the short side, he yanked his ball just a bit left landing just inside of Wood’s tee shot. If there was any good news, Sneed could go to school on Wood’s putt.
On the green and Wood wanted to finish it right then and there. No lag putting and hoping Sneed would miss from 26 feet after having a good look at Wood’s line. Besides, even going for it from that distance, how badly could Wood miss? He ran it four feet past, a bit of a knee-knocker.
Sneed, with a good look at Wood’s putt, got the yips and pulled it left, missing by a wide margin. In other words, “still your turn.” From five feet, Sneed sank his par putt.
With the worst that could have happened to Wood being a three-putt par and a trip to the fourth hole (the Chairman intimated it would have been the par five fifteenth with a choice to either lay up or, for the sluggers, a forced carry of 225 with not much margin for error), Wood calmly sank his birdie putt.
Wood gets his one-way ticket out and $180,000 in travel money while Sneed gets an open-jaw ticket to the Staffa Tour. If he misses a cut there before finishing in the top ten, he’ll be on the red eye back.
EVENT #9 TPC SCOTTSDALE STAFFA TOUR FIRST ROUND
Got to (I refuse to use “gotta”) love desert golf. With generally flat courses and benign conditions, it’s just a shooting gallery out there.
With that in mind, the entire 132-man field came in at a half stroke under par. Which means that lots of guys broke par–70, to be exact. Which also means that 2- or 3-under might be the cut line. We’ll see.
The first round leader is a man from down under, Bob Charles.
The New Zealander got out of the gate very quickly, thanks mostly to the first double eagle in the nine events on The Tour. After a 14-foot birdie putt on two, Charles smacked a 318 yard drive on three and followed that with a 4-iron from 223. A bounce in front, a bounce on the green and a roll to the front left pin placement and he had a deuce. Charles celebrated by knocking home a 35-footer for birdie on the par three fourth and an eight-footer for birdie on five after a crisp 9-iron approach. After that, Charles seemed to go on auto-pilot, running off six straight pars before three birdies and two bogeys over the next six, culminating by electing up on the drivable par four seventeen and trusting his short game, parking a pitch to within six feet. A two-putt par on eighteen and Charles came in with 7-under 64.
There’s a foursome one stroke back at 65. Among that group is Franklin Langham who, like Charles, had one of the shots of the day. After a ho-hum birdie on three, Langham stepped up to the fourth tee, decided on a 5-iron on the 192 yard hole and, taking dead aim at the back right pin placement, deposited the ball in the hole for an ace. Like Charles, Langham continued his celebration by birdieing the next two holes to go out in 5-under 30.
Also at 65 are Sam Byrd, Bobby Cruickshank and David Graham, the latter coming through with one of the six eagles (or better, in the case of Charles) on three, Graham parking a 5-iron from 207 within four feet.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:
All at 5-under 66 are Jimmy Hines, who went 4-under through his first five holes but had one of only eight bogeys or worse on seventeen, Flory Van Donck, who was 3-under through three before getting derailed with a bogey on five then settling down to get that stroke back plus two more, Robert Allenby, Dr. Gil Morgan and Gene Kunes.
SHOTS OF THE DAY:
There was a nice little highlight reel in the opening round as, in addition to Charles’ double eagle and Langham’s ace, Rory Sabbatini had a hole in one on twelve. With the pin at its most accessible, in the front center, Sabbatini nailed a 6-iron from 196. And, finally, there was Brent Geiberger. No thanks to a three bogey stretch from nine through eleven, Geiberger stepped to the tee at seventeen at 5-over. With the pin in the front left and the water definitely in play, Geiberger was no hero as he laid up with a 3-metal. The way his day was going, it would have been understandable if his ball would have ended up in the fairway bunker. As luck would have it, someone forgot to turn on the ball magnet (those are the ones which hang from trees and are buried in bunkers and water hazards and which seem to attract my ball) and his tee shot stopped just to the left of the sand. Faced with 59 yards in, Geiberger flushed a half wedge for an eagle two.
And, speaking of “flushed”…
IN THE CRAPPER:
Henrik Stenson, with a snowman on eighteen. Tee shot in the water and two to get out of the greenside bunker and a mediocre 1-over turned into a nightmare of 76. Anything worse than probably a 64 tomorrow and he can kiss this week goodbye. Fortunately, he’s not in danger of relegation.
Mark McNulty, who topped Stenson with a nine on the final hole. Two tee shots in the water for him turned an even-par round into a 76. Like Stenson, he’d better do something really good tomorrow.
Phil Blackmar. Last week’s Ruckhaus Tour winner, which saves his behind from relegation, was the only golfer to double bogey 17. A rotten 3-iron off the tee found the first bunker on the right. Faced with 119 yards out of the litter box, he Mickey Mantled (a dead Yank) that into the water. Making an interesting choice for a drop–the tenth fairway (remember, he has to keep the same line), he elected to take a blind hundred yard shot over the grandstand. Damn near got up and down too, rimming the cup from 25 feet. With 41 on the back, he’s also in at 76.
And, at the very bottom is George Bayer. Probably could have used a bottle of Bayer after a horrible front nine as six bogeys surrounding a flash of brilliance which almost wasn’t as he almost put his second shot on the par five third into the dry stream bed but managed to get up and down for a four sent him out in 40. Bayer then doubled eleven, when it took him four to get on thanks to a visit to the native vegetation off the tee and a trip into the waste sand with his second, with the final insult coming on eighteen, with a three-putt from 13 feet. 8-over 79 for Bayer, who’d like to forget this round. The good news? Like the other three, Bayer is not in danger of relegation. He won’t have to report this week’s (lack of) income to the IRS either.
EVENT #9 TPC SCOTTSDALE STAFFA TOUR SECOND ROUND
Bob Charles wasn’t able to reprise his first round performance. But that’s OK as there’s always someone ready to step up and take the other guy’s place.
Today, that someone was Bob Rosburg.
Funny thing about Rosburg is that he was one messed up hole from being the first round leader. On the par four eleventh yesterday, he put his approach shot in the water. As it was a lateral hazard and he could dropped where the ball last crossed, he probably could have hit four from about 60 yards. But Rosburg went back to his original spot and darn if he didn’t hit his next shot into the water as well. A triple bogey was the only black mark on a round of 67–which could have easily been 64.
He didn’t make the same mistake today. Matter of fact, he didn’t get into any sort of trouble as he got the round he should have had yesterday–and then one, coming in with a 63.
Rosburg got rolling with a spectacular eagle at three. After pulling a 3-metal which barely jumped out of the dry stream bed, Rosburg chipped in to a very difficult short side pin placement for a three. A 7-iron over the stick on four led to a nine-footer for birdie there. And that was it for his front side, going out in 32.
Rosburg saved his best work for last, starting with a crisp approach and a five-footer for birdie on ten. A fourteen-foot putt on the three shot par five fourteenth ran his score to 9-under. The fifteenth is also a three shot par five for all but the long hitter and Rosburg, though after a 312 yard drive elected to lay up and trust his short game, hitting his pitch inside of ten feet and draining the putt. A seventeen-foot putt on the sixteenth got the already boisterous gallery cheering even louder and a sharp 7-iron approach and seven-foot putt on the last ran his score to 12-under, which also happens to be three shots clear of the field.
Tied for second are Bobby Cruickshank and Jim Turnesa at 9-under.
After a 65 yesterday which left him right where he is now–second place–Cruickshank got off to a rough start with bogeys on one and three. Throw in the bogey on eighteen, where his tee shot into the far fairway bunker and the “Wee Scot” played the fourteen holes in between at 6-under.
Turnesa improved on his first round 67 by a stroke. The highlight of his day came on fifteen. After a 330 yard blast off the tee ended up in the rough, which is pretty light on this course–sometimes even easier hitting out of than the fairway, Turnesa went for the green in two with a 2-iron, stopping the ball within seven feet then nailing the putt for an eagle.
As far as Charles, he looked as if he’d be in the thick of things early on as he had a two putt birdie on three, the hole he double-eagled yesterday. But bogeys on eight and twelve negated that, though he bounced back with a fifteen-foot putt for birdie on sixteen. Bogey at eighteen pushed him over par for the day thanks to an approach shot into the deep bunker on the right side of the green then clearing the green while extricating himself but managing to get up and down avoiding a double or worse. 72 puts Charles in a six-way tie for sixteenth at 6-under.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:
Frank Nobilo, whose seven birdies ended with a second into the bunker on eighteen and a final hole bogey, shot a 65 and is tied with Jim Colbert (67 both days) and Sam Byrd (65-69) for fourth at 8-under. And, in a nine-way tie for seventh at 7-under are Tommy Jacobs (65 today), Tony Jacklin, Bob Lunn, Charles Coody and James Braid (all 66), Carl Petterson (67), Rory Sabbatini (68), Jimmy Hines (69) and James Braid (70).
SHOTS OF THE DAY:
Unfortunately, these were for the highlight reel only as neither golfer benefited. Translation: Neither made the cut.
Luke Donald on two. Electing to play safe off the tee, Donald went with a 3-metal which almost wasn’t safe as he just managed to avoid the fairway bunker on the right. Faced with a 170 yard approach shot, Donald pulled out a 7-iron, flew it over the large bunker on the front and right just waiting for wayward shots and backed it in for a deuce. If it weren’t for the birdies on one and two and ten and eleven, Donald would have shot a 79. As it was, 72-75 saw him miss the boat by six.
Brent Geiberger on eleven. 315 off the tee left a 9-iron in. But the approach was over the large bunker on the left while anything long would end up in the small bunker in the back left and anything not too terribly far left would end up in the water. After all that, bullseye! The eagle there got Geiberger just under par with a 70. Unfortunately, the opening day 75 saw Geiberger miss the cut line by four.
WORTH A MENTION:
Dan Forsman played the entire front side without a par, amassing seven birdies and two bogeys and going out in 30. Known as a heavy hitter, Forsman only had two booming drives, going over 300 only on eight and nine and getting close with his second both times leaving short putts for birdie. Even on the lone par five, he hit just under 300 with his second just clearing the dry stream bed and getting up and down for birdie. And even on the par five thirteenth, where most golfers can make hay, Forsman made bogey. First, he landed in the waste sand and plant life that course designers Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish and later Randy Heckenkamper decided should be there, could only hit out with a short iron and missed just left with his third, taking three to get up and down. He’s at 6-under after two rounds.
John Cook started with six straight birdies before missing the green just long on the par three seventh. That seemed to derail him as he made bogey there, playing the final twelve holes in 2-over and finishing with a 67, leaving him a 5-under for the first 36 holes.
THE CUT LINE:
-1, with 72 golfers making it.
Seemingly confounded by desert golf were Bobby Jones (+1), who hasn’t performed anything close to where many thought he would, Jim McGovern, who seemed to be confounded by a lot in his pro career, though he’s now the head pro at White Beeches in northeastern New Jersey, Peter Jacobsen and Ian Woosnam (both at +2), Tommy Bolt (+3), whose golf bag would have been in the water next to the eighteenth green, except that the only water there is on the first shot, and George Bayer, who bounced back off yesterday’s worst round of 79 with a 68 today. He still missed by six.
EVENT # TPC SCOTTSDALE STAFFA TOUR THIRD ROUND
Making allowances for the leader playing in the final twosome, a number of golfers licked at Bob Rosburg’s heels. But no one could catch him and he’ll go into the final round tomorrow up by two.
He played the first five holes in routine fashion, two-putting each for pars. Six was an up and down after an approach shot out of the rough came up short. But it was back to the routine on seven before finally getting close with a 7-iron approach on eight, converting an eight-footer for birdie. Then, four more pars in a row before putting his third shot on the par five thirteenth within nine feet and making his second birdie of the day. Then a couple more two-putt holes before his only bogey of the day and only his second in the tourney. Seemingly having trouble gauging distance on a hole surrounded by grandstand, he overshot the green by a wide margin. It turned out that he wasn’t the only one. But it took him three to get down. Undaunted, Rosburg almost holed out his approach on seventeen. Playing short and safe on the drivable par four, his pitch stopped on the rim of the cup, leaving a tap-in for three. Eighteen was another of those routine holes and Rosburg improved his lot by two today with a 69, leaving him at 14-under, two ahead of Bob Lunn and Jim Colbert.
Colbert has been a modicum of consistency as he shot his third consecutive 67. Taking a closer look, he’s played every round almost the same. Today, for instance, he birdied the opening hole, and with a six-foot putt too, for the second straight day and three for the third time, this time after laying up after going for the green in the previous two rounds. A birdie on the par three twelfth, also for the second straight day, but this time with a 24-foot putt and a birdie on eighteen thanks to a spot-on 3-iron approach from 218 and out of the rough (OK, it’s the first time he’s birdied the last after pars in the first two rounds) and Colbert had his third straight 4-under round.
Lunn started quickly, birdieing four of his first five holes to get to 11-under and have Rosburgh in his sights. Three of those birdies came from putts of 17, 19 and 22, so Lunn’s putter was on fire early.
But, as quickly as Lunn’s putter got hot, it went to sleep. Like Rosburg, he came up short of the green on six and should have gotten up and down thanks to a pitch to eight feet. But he two-putted and dropped a stroke. And, on nine, Lunn elected to putt from the fringe and from over 40 feet. Unable to properly read the break, Lunn left himself with 13 feet for par, which he missed.
Back to single digits, Lunn recovered on the back nine. At ten, a pitching wedge from 119 stopped three feet away, Lunn converting that for birdie. And birdie putts of 17 and 10 feet on fourteen and eighteen, as his putter awoke from its siesta, saw Lunn get to 12-under and a tie for second.
Sam Byrd got it to 13-under before running into trouble on the back nine.
Byrd birdied four in a row starting at two, thanks also to his putter, cashing in from 16 feet on two and from 20 on four. A 7-iron approach to three feet on eight and Byrd could taste the lead. But a three-putt on eleven, missing a chance at a sand save at fourteen and flying the green on sixteen and missing an eight-footer for par and 13-under became 10-under, leaving Byrd in a three-way tie for fourth.
One of those Byrd is tied with is Jimmy Hines.
Starting his day with three straight birdies–the second time he’s done that this week–all thanks to impressive approach shots, Hines got it to 10-under. But bogeys on six and seven saw Hines give two strokes back. In what turned out to be a roller coaster day, Hines bounced right back with three straight birdies, all on crisp approaches and short putts. Another birdie on the par five fourteenth, thanks to a seemingly superhuman 363 yard drive and a medium iron resulting in a two-putt from nine feet, and Hines was back in the hunt at 12-under. But the roller coaster had one more trip downhill left as Hines bogeyed fourteen after hitting his approach wide right and into the waste sand and on fifteen as he duck hooked his tee shot into the water. The roller coaster then leveled off and Hines came to the end of his ride with three straight pars. And, though he might not want to ride the coaster tomorrow, if he can shoot 3-under, like he did today, it’ll be worth the trip.
The third member of the triumvirate at 10-under is Mark Hayes. Among the lot of those at the top of the leaderboard, he shot the round of the day with a 65.
At 4-under starting the day and looking to finish respectably, Hayes went out in 31 with four birdies, three on putts of 12 feet on one, 15 on eight and 14 on nine. After five straight pars, two on scrambles, Hayes finished with a flourish, sort of. Laying up short of the water on the par five fifteenth, Hayes pitched to five feet and made birdie. But, like many, Hayes overshot the green on sixteen and couldn’t get up and down, suffering the gallery’s wrath. But putts of 24 and 15 feet on the final two holes led to birdies and round of 65 which was unmatched today.
ALSO OF NOTE:
Jim Turnesa started his day at 9-under and quickly got it to 11-under thanks to birdies on one and three. But Turnesa never got another birdie while his putter faltered leading to three three-putt bogeys. Tack on another bogey on a missed sand save opportunity on fourteen and Turnesa finished with a 73 and is tied for twelfth.
First round leader Bob Charles improved his lot from yesterday. Posting a 72 yesterday after an opening round 64, Charles righted the ship somewhat with a 70, an 8-iron from 171 to within four feet at the last leaving a good taste in his mouth for the final round. At 7-under, Charles is also tied for twelfth.
Bobby Cruickshank, in second at 9-under starting play today, stayed there thanks to a bogey on two, a birdie on three and sixteen pars. Unfortunately, he was passed by four others and is in a three-way tie for seventh at -9.
THE TOP TEN:
Rosburg, -14, Lunn and Colbert at -12, Byrd, Hines and Hayes at -10, and Jug McSpaden (66 today), Freddie Haas (68) and Frank Nobilo (70) joining Cruickshank at -9.
And finally, from The Chairman, whose smiling face hid his anger. Today’s worst round was 76 and, for three rounds, this course is playing under par. This course is too easy. The next one won’t be.
EVENT #9 TPC SCOTTSDALE STAFFA TOUR FINAL ROUND
After giving a handful in the field a whiff of the lead–and it was only that, as no one could pull even–Bob Rosburg smoked the competition with a final round 63, winning by nine shots. Even more amazing than going that low was that Rosburg also had two bogeys.
Rosburg had six threes on the front side, including an eagle on three thanks to a 3-metal from 265 to within 12 feet. But it’s also where he had his two bogeys–underclubbing at the par three fourth and landing in the front bunker and missing just long on nine and unable to get up and down. Five more threes on the back side, including a 9-iron out of the sand on the dogleg tenth to within two feet, as he tried to cut the corner a bit too tight, and a 39-foot putt on fourteen saw Rosburg come home in 32.
Sam Byrd had the closest thing to a run at Rosburg, going out in 30. He also had six threes on the front side and none of his birdie putts were outside 12 feet. But he couldn’t maintain that torrid pace, parring everything on the back nine, save for seventeen. Spraying a 3-metal way left into the off the tee and into the waste sand, Byrd put his second into the water and eventually made double bogey six. Even had he shot 30 on the back side, Byrd still would have missed by one.
Joining Byrd in the distant tie for second were Mark Hayes (68 today) and Bob Lunn. And, in the rest of the top ten, Tom Kite (66) and Jim Colbert, whose 71 broke his string of 67s, tied for fifth at -12. Freddie Haas’ 69 saw him finish all alone in seventh while Gil Morgan, whose 65 was only second best today, Flory Van Donck (66) and Jimmy Hines (71) finished in a three-way tie for eighth.
Rosburg gets the full Gerney Tour card while the remainder of the top ten gets at least a taste of “The Show” next week.
Finally, DRIVE FOR SHOW AND PUTT FOR DOUGH:
Steve Jones led the field in driving by six yards at 319. He missed the cut. Who led the field in putting? Rosburg.
EVENT #9 TPC SCOTTSDALE GERNEY TOUR FIRST ROUND
Until last week, Arnold Palmer had been consistent but not spectacular, cashing a check in every one of the first seven events.
But all that changed last week when he beat Tom Weiskopf by a foot at Celtic Manor (literally a foot as Weiskopf missed his tying putt on the 72nd hole by that much) to win his first tournament. Palmer had surged to the lead with a second round 63 and held that all the way to the end, barely, zooming up from 68th on the money list to fourth.
Today, Palmer picked up where he left off, this time with a spectacular 62. And had Palmer avoided the front bunker on two and hit his 7-iron straight on the par-three twelfth, that 62 could easily have been a 60.
Palmer had his putter working on most of the front nine, routinely sinking medium range putts. It started with an 18-footer at the opener. After landing in the sand on two and still hitting a difficult shot out of the deep bunker to within six feet, Palmer’s putter failed him and he made bogey five. After reaching in two and two-putting on the par five next, Palmer and his putter went back to work: 13 feet on four, 15 on five and 11 on six. After an up and down on the par three seventh and a two putt par on eight, Palmer birdied nine thanks to a 319 yard blast off the tee and a pitching wedge to four feet. Halfway home in 30.
Then, 16 feet for birdie on 11 to take it to 6-under. But Palmer sprayed his 7-iron short and left at twelve and couldn’t get up and down. But a 3-metal off the tee for placement at the par five thirteenth and that same 3-metal for a 280+ yard blast to the green and his longest made putt of the day, 38 feet, and Arnie had an eagle. Pushing the ball right off the fourteenth tee and almost landing in the waste sand, Palmer smoked a 3-iron from 243 to within seven feet, making birdie. Must be the high desert air. Two pars followed and, on the drivable par four seventeenth, Palmer laid up with a 3-metal then stopped his pitch within six feet, burying that for his final birdie of the day. A two-putt par on 18 saw Palmer finish with a 9-under 62.
But, in this fast company of the Gerney Tour, there are always bound to be players lurking in the shadows and 62 isn’t always as dominant as it sounds. To wit:
Tommy Aaron, also out in 30 and, like Palmer, with a bogey on two, his courtesy of a three putt from 21 feet. But Aaron bounced back from that with a 4-iron approach from 225 on three to within six feet and an eagle. Then, three birdies in a row starting at six, including holing out of the sand on seven, and Aaron was out in 5-under. But all Aaron could muster on the back side were two birdies, though he almost holed out a pitching wedge from 131 for eagle on ten and he scrambled for two other pars and two-putted from over 50 feet on two others, and he finished with 64.
Tiger Woods also shot 64. But, unlike Aaron and Palmer, Woods did his best work on the inward nine. Two birdies and a bogey on the front, the bogey coming on six when it took two shots to get out of the left front bunker, and Woods went to the snack bar in a mundane 34. But Woods connected from twelve feet for birdie on ten, just missed from thirteen for birdie at eleven and bagged a fourteen-footer at twelve. He could have gained a stroke at the par five thirteenth but missed from just six feet. Undaunted, Woods parked his 8-iron approach on fourteen to within three feet and made that then went for the green in two on fifteen and two-putted that. Though he was in the minority who held the green at sixteen, his ball rolled to the back of the green and he two-putted from 65 feet, the raucous crowd dutifully booing the first putt miss. Can’t please them. Woods pulled his ball into the sand on seventeen and hit a less than spectacular approach. But he nailed a fifteen-footer for birdie and birdied the last as well, hitting a 9-iron to seven feet and draining the putt. Woods’ 30 back nine was the best of anyone in the 124-man field.
Combine Woods’ back nine with Frank Beard’s front nine and you’d get a 59. And Beard had a bogey among those 29 strokes.
Beard started with birdies on the first three holes, just missing from holing out for eagle on three when his second shot landed just outside the front greenside bunker. Beard also almost holed out his approach out of the waste sand on five, his 4-iron from 199 stopping within a foot. After another birdie at six, Beard’s tee shot on the par three seventh landed short and in the left front bunker and he was unable to get up and down. The tee shot on eight also went into the waste sand, but Beard made it to the green with his second and two-putted for par. Then came nine and…
THE SHOT OF THE DAY:
Beard sprayed his drive on nine right yet again. Staring down a 215-yard shot, albeit with a clean line to the pin, Beard hit a laser of a 4-iron, the ball bouncing on and rolling in for an eagle two and a 29 front side. Alas, Beard could only run off pars after that and finished with a still impressive 6-under 65.
That puts Beard in a six-way tie for fourth. Joining him are Vic Ghezzi, Doug Sanders, Payne Stewart, Mark O’Meara and Mike Souchak.
The top nine golfers are all Americans. But the rest of the top ten, which happens to be nine more, looks like the United Nations. Four Americans: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Jimmy Demaret and one other guy who will be noted in a moment. Two Scots: Willie Anderson and Willie Park, Sr. An Australian: Greg Norman. A South African: Gary Player. A Korean: KJ Choi. And a Zimbabwean (or Rhodesian, because that’s what it was before John “The Beast” Mugabe took over and chased all the white folk out): Nick Price.
HEY I DESIGNED THIS COURSE:
Tom Weiskopf, who designed TPC Scottsdale, is the other American in the nine-way tie for tenth. Weiskopf, who should know where all the bad bounces are on this course, got out to a quick start with birdies on four of the first six holes. But he couldn’t read his own green on a seventh hole chip and made bogey and kind of went flat after that, birdies on fifteen and eighteen getting home down to 66.
THE OTHER SHOT OF THE DAY:
Actually, it wasn’t so much for the shot as it was for the accomplishment as Ben Hogan was the only golfer to birdie the notorious sixteenth hole. Amid the booing and the catcalls of gallery at the 72 of 124 golfers who couldn’t hold the green with quite a few hitting the green but rolling off the back into the collection area, Hogan was one on the 52 who actually held on. Even still, he was 29 feet out. But he buried the putt and, thus, was the only player to birdie sixteen. At 3.31, it was the most difficult hole on the course today.
EVENT #9 TPC SCOTTSDALE GERNEY TOUR SECOND ROUND
Second verse, same as the first, as Arnold Palmer leads at the half mile pole.
Almost obviously, he couldn’t reprise his opening round 62. But he had the flat blade working today and came through with a 66 and leads by two shots.
The putter portion of Arnie’s day started on five. Into the fairway bunker off the tee, Palmer came up short on his second and his pitch wasn’t a good one. But Palmer made his 17-foot par putt. Then, 34 feet on ten, 27 feet for a scramble par on fourteen, 32 feet for birdie on fifteen and a final “shortie” of 13 feet on seventeen. Only once did his putter fail him, missing from five feet for par on seven. Palmer often had to work for his pars, scrambling successfully in five of eight situations. His best shot of the day came on eight. With just a sand wedge left after a 325 yard drive, Palmer stuck his ball within two feet, tapping in for an easy birdie.
Someone else shot 62 today and vaulted into second place. That would be Lawson Little.
After an opening round 68, Little hit the shot of the day with an 8-iron on the par three fourth. From 175, he almost holed out, leaving just a tap in for birdie. Little did some of his best work on the par threes, birdieing three of them. He almost birdied the fourth, but his 24-footer on twelve just rimmed out. Little ran off nine birdies in a thirteen hole stretch starting at four, including four in a row starting at thirteen, those four thanks to his putter as he holed putts of 24, 13, 11 and 25 feet.
Tommy Aaron, whose opening round 64 put him in second place, finished the day in third thanks to a 4-under 67. Aaron made his day on six. It didn’t look like it off the tee as he sprayed his driver well into the rough. But the rough isn’t that rough at Scottsdale and Aaron had a good look at the hole. But he came up short and fat with an 8-iron–almost 50 yards short. His next shot was half a sand wedge and he flushed it for a birdie three.
Aaron has company at -11 as Willie Anderson and Johnny Miller each shot 65.
After a bogey at two when he missed the green and couldn’t get up and down, Anderson came through with a 2-iron approach at the par five fourth, stopping his ball within seven feet and making the eagle putt. Miller’s highlight came at fifteen. On the par five, Miller elected to lay up short of the water with his second–except that he almost didn’t, his ball rolling to the edge of the hazard. Facing 65 yards in, his pitch left a bit to be desired. But Miller made the 17 foot putt for birdie.
ALSO GOING LOW:
Phil Rodgers, with a 63. That vaulted him into a tie for sixth with Olin Dutra (65) at -10.
Even with two bogeys, Rodgers went out in 32. Though most of his front side birdies came on short putts, Rodgers cashed in from 22 feet at nine.
Rodgers improved on his 32 front side with 31 on the back starting with birdie putts of 27, 15 and 13 feet on ten, eleven and thirteen, respectively. The boo birds were out on sixteen as Rodgers missed the green right. But he chipped in from 75 feet for birdie, changing the boos into cheers. A final birdie on seventeen and Rodgers had a 63.
I SHOT 66 AND MISSED THE CUT?:
KJ Choi, who could do almost no wrong yesterday, found today to be a much different day. The horror started at two, with a tee shot into the fairway bunker and an eventual bogey. It continued on three as Choi three-putted, missing a four-footer for par. Ten was a three-putt from nine feet. Twelve was a missed five-footer. The final insult came on fifteen. Tee shot in the water. Third in the water, too. That eventually netted Choi a triple bogey eight. Today’s 78 saw Choi miss the cut by five.
Greg Norman got closer to the cut line than Choi but also finished on the wrong side of it. A two-putt birdie on three got Norman’s day started off fine. But a bogey at nine, no thanks to a missed seven-foot putt, then a double at fourteen after hitting his tee shot into the desert schmutz and taking a drop and a bogey at sixteen after missing the green and 66-74 was one stroke short of sticking around for the weekend.
I SHOT 65 AND MISSED THE CUT?:
Mark O’Meara, who was tied for fourth after the first round, was ten strokes worse today.
O’Meara’s day started horribly and he never recovered as he birdied five of his first six holes. Lowlights included taking two to get out of the bunker on two and a botched chip on five, where he needed to sink a 41-foot putt just to make par, which he didn’t. 39 on the front was something O’Meara couldn’t bounce back from, though he did manage to shoot even par on the inward nine with a missed four-foot par putt on eleven being canceled out by a fifteenth hole birdie as his 80 yard pitch stopped three feet away.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:
Since the top seven were already mentioned, there’s a six-way tie for eighth at 9-under among Gene Littler (64 today), Antonio Cerda and JH Taylor (both at 65), Ernie Els and Ken Venturi (both at 66) and Frank Beard (68).
Tiger Woods, tied with Aaron for second after the first round, was knocked around today, as three bogeys canceled out three pars as he finished with an even par 71. He’s tied for 21st at -7.
THE CUT LINE:
-3, with 71 golfers getting paid this weekend. Besides Norman, Choi and O’Meara, other notables (yes, they all are) missing are Jim Furyk, Bob Tway and Bruce Devlin at -2, Young Tom Morris, who’s cashed two million dollar-plus checks this season, and Padraig Harrington at -1, Sam Snead and George Archer at even par, David Duval and Hale Irwin at 1-over and Bobby Locke at +3.
Robert Karlsson. 72 yesterday wasn’t great. But 78 today was horrible and he missed the cut (of course). But he was four shots worse than anyone else in the field. A hole he’d like to forget? Eleven. Water landing off the tee. Three into the waste sand and some of the native plant life and he had to take a drop. Five, just out. Six, a chip which went through the green and darned near rolled into the water. Seven on and a two-putt from six feet. Quintuple bogey nine. Sayonara. See you next week.
EVENT #9 TPC SCOTTSDALE GERNEY TOUR THIRD ROUND
It’s still Arnie. But nearly one-third of the field is banging at the gates as four players are within a shot and 21 within five.
Palmer shot 70 today and his two-shot lead starting play today was cut in half. And, with opening rounds of 62 and 66, it appears as if he’s heading in the wrong direction. But he’s still the man to beat.
Palmer birdied one and three today, the third time in the tourney he’s done that. After hitting a 3-metal in round one, Palmer has gone with 2-iron off the tee in the past two rounds. Yesterday, it was a 9-iron second to eight feet; today it was a sand wedge to eight. And, on the par five third, he reached in two again and two-putted. And, the end of the front nine look a bit like yesterday as well. Yesterday, it was a bogey on seven and a birdie on eight as he went driver-sand wedge and two-foot putt on the 455 yard hole (In my dreams). Today, it was birdie on eight (3-metal, 6-iron and ten-foot putt) and bogey on nine as Palmer three-putted from eleven feet.
At that point, yesterday’s and today’s rounds diverged.
Back home in 33 yesterday, Palmer started today’s back nine with five straight pars–all reaching the green in regulation followed by two putts, though three of them were from nearly 30 feet or better. Where Palmer got derailed was on fifteen, as he put his tee shot in the water and made double. After a par on sixteen, Arnie birdied the short par four for the third straight day, playing short and hitting a three-quarter wedge from 95 yards and watching it check up eight feet from the hole. Eighteen was one of those routine pars, though Palmer missed an eight-footer for birdie. The four stroke difference on the back side between yesterday and today was the difference between 66 and 70. But, at 15-under, he still leads by one.
Lawson Little, who shot an eye-popping 62 yesterday and was within two, also had a rough go on the back nine–actually going 4-over for his final eleven holes–and was ten strokes worse today. Fortunately, with Palmer shooting 70, he only lost two strokes, though others passed him by. He’s in a logjam at 11-under, four shots back.
Moving into contention was Arnie’s nemesis in their previous lives. A first name only should suffice here–Jack.
Nicklaus shot a 7-under 64 to close within one. Birdieing one and six for the third consecutive day, Nicklaus finally figured out how to play the ninth. After a bogey in the first round and a double yesterday thanks to coming up short with his approach AND three-putting, today Jack got smart. After hitting driver off the tee the first two days, Nicklaus went with 3-metal. 287 dead down the middle. 8-iron over the lone front trap to fourteen feet and one of the best putters in the business calmly sank it.
The back nine was where Nicklaus made his money today. Birdie on ten with the putter helping him out as he sank a 27-footer. Bogey on eleven, where he missed wide right while probably trying to avoid the water on the left and unable to get up and down–that would prove to be his only black mark. After smoking a drive on thirteen, Nicklaus had only 238 left on the 572-yard hole and placed a 4-iron to within three feet at the difficult back left pin location. That was worth an eagle. Two holes later and another par five… 350 on the driver and a 5-iron to seven feet. Unfortunately, he pushed his putt just wide right and had to settle for birdie. Seventeen was a layup and approach to twelve feet and another birdie while eighteen was a very conservative 3-iron off the tee and a 7-iron from 189 to within seven feet and his last of seven birdies on the day. 31 on the back nine and a third round 64 for Nicklaus. As he was the first of four to post the 14-under score, it should be Jack and Arnie on day last at Scottsdale. Let’s hope that Hanna fellow has that programmed correctly.
Joining Nicklaus at 14-under are Ernie Els (66 today) and Tommy Aaron and Johnny Miller (both with 68s).
Els did his best work in a three-hole stretch starting at thirteen. Playing the hole more conservatively than Nicklaus, Els’ third was a sand wedge from 113 which he almost holed out, just breathing on the ball to make birdie. Fourteen was a sixteen-foot birdie putt and Els elected to go for the green in three on fifteen but still left himself 29 feet for birdie and made that. He finished with a birdie on eighteen for the third consecutive day, this time by sinking a ten-footer.
After running off nine straight pars to start his day, Aaron put together a 3-under run in a four hole stretch as he began the back nine. Two were thanks to spot-on approaches. At ten, he hit a pitching wedge to seven feet and sank the putt while, on the par three twelfth, he deposited a 5-iron on the 211 yard hole to within three feet. Going driver, 3-metal at the long par five thirteenth, Aaron found himself on the fringe at about twenty feet away and two-putted for birdie. Unfortunately, he bogeyed fourteen as he missed wide right and couldn’t get close with his pitch at the short-sided pin and with a large bunker in between. But he canceled that out with aggressive play on eighteen, smacking a driver over 300 yards and coming in with a sand wedge from 120 and leaving only a two-footer.
As for Miller, once again he lit up the front nine as he’s 13-under for the first nine holes so far in the tournament. Miller hit driver-9-iron at the 458 yard fifth with only a six-foot putt needed for birdie. But Miller topped that with 3-metal-6-iron at the 461 yard ninth, needing only a tap-in for birdie. After the round, Miller said he wished he could just play nine over and over as, in the first three rounds, he’s been a total of thirteen feet from the hole. Once again, however, the back nine wasn’t as kind to Miller. As in the first round, he bogeyed ten and sixteen, today coming up just short on ten and being unable to get up and down and, on sixteen, watching his ball roll off the back and into the collection area and also being unable to get up and down. But Miller left a good taste in his mouth for the final round, hitting an 8-iron approach on eighteen to eight feet and sinking the birdie putt.
That takes care of the first five.
Phil Rodgers, after a 63 yesterday, shot a more pedestrian 68 and is all alone in sixth at 13-under.
Cary Middlecoff (66) and Antonio Cerda (68) are tied for seventh at -12.
In a seven-way tie for ninth, at -11, are Old Tom Morris and Ralph Guldahl (both 65), Tiger Woods (67), Horton Smith (68), JH Taylor (69), Willie Anderson (71) and Little, mentioned earlier, at 72.
Also in double digits and with a reasonable chance of winning this thing, assuming they go low, are a six-some at -10: Al Balding (65), Harry Vardon (66), Willie Park (69), Ken Venturi and Gene Littler (both 70) and Olin Dutra (71).
EVENT #9 TPC SCOTTSDALE GERNEY TOUR FINAL ROUND
It was like a heavyweight fight, just this time with 20 guys in the ring all slugging it out.
Even though he was heading in the wrong direction with 62-66-70, it was Arnie’s to lose. He was playing in the final pairing with Jack Nicklaus. And Nicklaus blinked first.
After a birdie at two, thanks to a pitching wedge approach to three feet, Nicklaus went off the rails. On the par five third, an easy birdie hole for most, Nicklaus pushed a 3-iron wide right. He chili dipped his pitch, landing on the hairy bunker collar then couldn’t get up and down, missing an eight-foot par putt. On the par three fourth, he pulled an 8-iron left into the deep greenside bunker. Getting more ball than sand, he played army golf, airmailing his shot into the bunker on the opposite side. At that point he made a “sandy,” converting from four feet. But it was one shot too late. On the par four fifth, Nicklaus was in trouble left off the tee. Forced to lay up in front of the waste sand traversing the hole about 70 yards out, he couldn’t get up and down from 73. After parring six for the fourth consecutive day, Nicklaus had trouble on the other front side par three, again pushing a long iron (this time a 4) right, having better luck chipping on but missing a six-footer for par. After a ninth hole birdie which sent him to the snack bar in 1-over 36, all Nicklaus could muster on the back nine was a birdie on the 220 yard par three twelfth as he sank a 12-foot putt as his putter failed him twice as he missed birdie putts inside of ten feet on fourteen and sixteen. Even par 71 for Nicklaus and he finished at 14-under.
As for Palmer, he also had a rough go on the front nine, going out in 1-over, not being helped along by missing a four foot par putt on seven and three putting from 40 feet on nine. Palmer had slightly better luck than Nicklaus on the inward nine, birdieing both par fives. The drivable par four seventeenth–well not really today as, with the pin in the way back, anything on the green from the tee might have meant a very long eagle putt–saw Palmer make par after birdies in his previous three rounds. And, on eighteen, Palmer two-putted for par to post his second consecutive 70 and finish 16-under.
Ernie Els and Tommy Aaron, like Nicklaus, started the day one back. They were in the penultimate group. Els was a factor. Aaron wasn’t.
Aaron got into trouble early. On the par five third, he had trouble extricating himself from the dry stream bed and all the crap growing around there and turned an easy par five into a double bogey. Out in 37, he started to get it together on the back nine, sinking putts of 24 and 16 feet for birdie on ten and twelve. But fourteen bit him in the ass when he put his tee shot into the waste area and made bogey. Sixteen took another bite out of him when he held the green on the par three but three-putted from 29 feet. 2-over 73 and Aaron finished at -12.
Els, on the other hand, managed to avoid the bogey bug, playing regulation golf around the front side though he saved par on five after a tee shot and a second into the waste sand by a decent chip and an 11-foot putt. And, though he parred nine, he missed a seven-footer for birdie. He birdied eleven thanks to a 7-iron approach to seven feet and he dialed long distance on twelve, dropping a nearly fifty foot putt for birdie on the par three. Though he had a couple fairly routine (for a pro, that is) scramble pars, it was routine golf all the way in and his 69 saw him finish tied with Palmer at 16-under.
Johnny Miller also started the day in the foursome tied for second at 14-under.
Like Els, Miller also picked his sports and picked up strokes at three and six. Three was especially pleasing as Miller elected to lay up short of the dry wash but found the last of three bunkers. Faced with a sand shot from just under a hundred yards, Miller almost holed out, tapping in for four. Six was driver-9-iron to ten feet and a birdie putt. But nine wasn’t too kind as Miller three-putted from 24 feet. Most of the back nine was fairly routine, with Miller making his lone birdie at fifteen, laying up short with his second on the par five but hitting his approach to eleven feet and sinking the putt. Twelve was pretty sweet too, as he sprayed his 4-iron off the tee on the par three left into the waste sand and not all that far from the water. He hit out to ten feet and drained the putt. 69 for Miller put him in the logjam at 16-under.
And there was yet another golfer at 16-under. That would be Gene Littler, who played a bogey-free round.
Littler eagled three, with a laser of a 3-metal to seven feet. His approach on five was right at the pin and stopped four feet away. That was worth a birdie, as was the next hole when his approach went over the pin and just off the green with Littler chipping in for a three. Out in 31, Littler birdied the par five thirteenth with a 259 3-metal safely onto the green and a two-putt from 33 feet. Littler almost broke the 16-under traffic jam with a 6-iron approach on eighteen over the trap and to a very small landing area which stopped on the edge of the hole. 65 for Littler today and he, too, was at 16-under.
Four other golfers joined the party only to finish just short.
Tiger Woods can look back at his round and see what he did on eleven and eighteen. At eleven, he just flew the green with his 7-iron approach. A not-so-great chip left him seven feet. And he missed the putt. At eighteen, it was 3-metal off the tee into the sand, a 4-iron approach which also found sand, this one the greenside bunker, a poor shot out which left him a 17-foot putt, and a par putt which just missed. He finished with his second consecutive 67 and at 15-under.
Vic Ghezzi could look back at two (his 8-iron approach out of the fairway bunker took a flyer and still with a chance to make par, missed a five-footer), five (missed wide right on his approach but still had a lot of green to work with and missed a nine-foot par putt) and eight (flew the green with a 4-iron approach and chipped nicely to five feet but missed). Even with those three bogeys, Ghezzi lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 7-under 64 and finished at 15-under.
Al Balding finished birdie-birdie, the one on seventeen being otherworldly as he put his tee shot into the bunker in the middle of the fairway, missed well short with his approach but sank a 74-foot putt. Balding’s 66 saw him finish at -15.
Horton Smith went around TPC Scottsdale today in a bogey free 67. Had he made birdie on either of the back nine par fives, he would have finished at 16-under too. But he was in the foursome at -15.
But there’s one player still left who, though he appeared on the leaderboard, flew just enough under the radar to avoid getting much of a mention. He shall remain nameless for the moment.
Starting today at 12-under, his day started off with a bang as his pitching wedge approach on the opening hole checked up within a foot. As it was for many, four was an easy birdie. And an 8-iron tee shot on the par five fourth was seven feet past the hole and he sank the putt. Five was an easy scramble par. Six and eight? Not so much as his approach out of the waste sand came up short on six. But a pitch from 30 yards over the bunker to the short-sided pin stopped six feet away and he sank the putt. On eight, he had to extricate himself from the bushes after a tee shot sprayed a bit right and could only advance his ball to within about 100 yards of the green. But he pitched to nine feet and made the par. Nine turned out to be his only blemish of the day with a three-putt from 45 feet. Still he was out in 33.
Ten and eleven were routine pars. Twelve was pretty nice as, with the pin in the way back on the par three, he got his 5-iron to roll to within five feet and he sank the putt. That ran his score to 15-under. He elected to play thirteen as a three-shotter and made par. Fourteen was a routine par four. Given the pin position on seventeen, fifteen–the last of the three par fives–was probably the last really good chance at birdie. 313 off the tee to the left side of the fairway. A 2-iron from 254 flew the water easily but rolled to the back of the green. He two-putted from 50 feet to get to 16-under. He flirted with danger on sixteen, landing and holding on the back left of the green–a ball which could have easily rolled down to the collection area and caused more trouble. Two-putting from 19 feet, he remained at 16-under. His 3-metal off the tee on seventeen managed to elude the bunker in the middle of the fairway. His pitch from 93 yards stopped eleven feet away. With three other pairings behind him, he knew every shot counted and two putts here might make the difference between a playoff and just a nice check. He sank the putt. Taking a look at the scoreboard, he saw that no one, besides himself, of course, had made it to 17-under. So he went with a conservative 3-iron off the tee but still faced nearly 200 yards in with a bunker to carry and that small landing area. Maybe he was too conservative. But he brought his 7-iron in with a high fade and watched as his ball stopped twelve feet away. Then he calmly two-putted for his par and, after signing his scorecard, watched greenside to see if the others could catch him. Nobody did.
And the winner, with a 17-under 267 and thanks to his second consecutive 66 is…
WELCOME ABOARD AND SAYONARA
ADVANCING TO STAFFA TOUR (18):
Wood gets a full card. The rest are provisional: Sneed, Austin, Beman, Clampett, John Daly, Herron, Ozaki, JC Snead, Stranahan, Boomer, Pete Brown, Garcia, January, McLendon, Murphy, Nary, Ransom.
RELEGATED TO RUCKHAUS TOUR (9):
Lucas Glover, Ken Green, Aoki, Espinosa, Funk, Steve Jones, Trahan, Stewart, Nakajima.
ADVANCING TO GERNEY TOUR (10):
Rosburg gets a full card. Provisionals: Byrd, Hayes, Lunn, Colbert, Kite, Fred Haas, Hines, Morgan and Van Donck.
RELEGATED TO STAFFA TOUR (12):
Burke, Gardner, Dave Hill, Hutchinson, O’Meara, Strange, Barnes, O’Connor, Picard, Irwin, Strath and Robertson.