EVENT #7 THE RUCKHAUS TOUR
It was like the “atomic flush,” only with clock radios.
Just before 6 AM in 143 hotel rooms: “WCBS news time 5:58. Traffic and weather together on the eights…” Not much traffic just yet but it would be miserable in an hour. The weather sounded good: Mid 60s now, heading up to the low 80s. A nice day. Some laid in bed and listened to the news before heading to the shower, getting dressed and heading down to the hotel lobby where transportation would be waiting.
They’d gotten used to going to sleep in one place, getting miraculously transported and waking up, sometimes thousands of miles away, in another. And many knew that WCBS was one of the two news stations in New York City (WINS, also owned by CBS being the other). OK, so it was Hawaii yesterday and somewhere in New York today. There was lots of great golf in the area–Baltusrol, Shinnecock, Bethpage, Ridgewood, Westchester, Upper Montclair and one other notable place which was almost penal, especially when it was trumped up for the occasional US Open–Winged Foot.
Only when the buses pulled past the sign noting “Winged Foot” and “Private” did many realize that’s where this week’s event would be played. Few were happy.
The Chairman was waiting.
“I hope you enjoyed your week in Hawaii. Many of you got to air out your games a bit–swing from the heels and all of that. Not this week.
“While I enjoyed the week in paradise myself,” The Chairman continued, “my goal was to give the best golfers to have ever played the game the toughest challenges.”
There was a collective groan, especially from the more recent players who enjoyed playing the courses on the PGA Tour which were generally designed for low scoring and to make the players look good. The Chairman cared little.
As if reading minds, The Chairman went on: “If you were expecting the PGA Tour, you’re in the wrong place. Many of the courses you’ve visited and will be visiting have hosted major championships. And you know those courses are usually made more difficult than the weekly stops if only to be a true test of golf where mistakes aren’t tolerated. If it’ll make you feel any better, I have instructed the course superintendent to cut the rough down to what you fellows refer to as ‘PGA rough.’ We’ll be back here later in the season. At that time, the rough will be what you’d find at the US Open.”
There were some snide comments at about the volume of a stage whisper because nobody wanted to speak up and upset The Chairman, lest he send next week’s event to Devil’s Island. Hey, if The Chairman could move 400 golfers halfway around the world at a moment’s notice, certainly he could find a way to send those guys to a fictional course which was almost impossible to play.
“There are 143 of you,” noted The Chairman. “I played this course before you got here and decided which holes you’d be playing. I selected five. If more are needed, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. You’ll all be headed out to the eighth hole. 492 yards, par four. Many of you won’t be able to hit driver off the tee because of the dogleg and the trees and placement in the narrow fairways is more important than distance. That’ll leave many of you about 230-240 yards in, with many hitting either a long iron or a fairway wood–likely the same club you hit off the tee. The green is long and narrow with sand on either side and the pin is way in the back, which means many of you will have to run the ball up. Par will be an impressive score. But it probably won’t be enough as, with the collective talent here, the odds are that at least one of you will make birdie. So, be aggressive and, of course, good luck.”
As the players were carted out to the eighth hole, many realized that they’d know they would be finished for the week about one second after they took their tee shots. It could be over THAT quickly.
143 teed off. For a bunch, those who pushed their shots into the trees and a few more into the rough but with a shot in, their week was over. Gamely, they played out the hole, hoping that, by some miracle, they could hole out their pitch shots or somehow get close enough where they could bang home a long putt or make a bunker shot out of the heavy rough surrounding the green.
Though there were two putts which could be called “miracles,” there was only one other such miracle as Billy Joe Patton chipped in from 43 yards. Glen Day almost joined him. Hitting out of the left bunker, his ball stopped on the lip of the cup and went no further. As it didn’t matter whether Day made four or forty-four, Day was ready to swat his ball all the way to somewhere–the ninth tee, the bunker he hit out of or some other undetermined place–before having second thoughts, being a gentleman and tapping in, reluctantly admitting that he’d have to wait for his chance to move out of the Ruckhaus Tour until next week.
Only 12 players made birdie. Al Espinosa knocked home a 44 foot putt and Billy Andrade topped that by fifteen feet. Others made shorter putts, such as Lucas Glover draining a sixteen-footer and Andrew Magee connecting from twelve. Others, like Mike Morley and Ken Green, landed even closer. In the case of Morley and Green, it was a 2-iron to three feet.
Better still and the winner of the closest to the pin contest was Ian Poulter. Also staring down a 2-iron from over 230 yards, Poulter’s ball ran to the back of the green and, like Day’s bunker shot, stopped on the edge of the cup. Though Poulter would have been very satisfied to have ended this week’s Ruckhaus Tour event in one hole, he has the satisfaction of knowing that, by advancing to the next hole, he’ll be playing on the Staffa Tour next week.
The loser of the closest to the pin contest–the player who hit closest and missed the putt–Alex Campbell, who missed a seven-footer. Dishonorable mention: Ryuji Imada, eight feet, and Ben Curtis, nine.
Twelve will move on to the twelfth hole.
EVENT #7 THE RUCKHAUS TOUR SECOND HOLE
Twelve men had birdied the first hole, the eighth at Winged Foot, and moved on to the seemingly endless par five twelfth. Alphabetically, they are Billy Andrade, Al Espinosa, Lucas Glover, Ken Green, Andrew Magee, Mark McNulty, Mike Morley, Steve Pate, Billy Joe Patton, Ian Poulter, DJ Trahan and Ernie Vossler.
With the pin again in the back of the green, the hole was playing close to 660. And, with maybe a half club of elevation off the tee and another half club on the approach, the distance was more like 670-680. As on the eighth, there was no need to smoke a driver unless you were truly confident of landing it on the short grass as placement was paramount, what with the fairway being only 30 yards wide and rough and trees just ready to swallow up an errant shot. The only good news was that approaches would be made with a short iron. So, the choice for most might be fairway wood, long iron and maybe an eight- or nine-iron approach and hope to, first, hit all shots straight and then hope to get close enough for a good chance at birdie.
Of the twelve, only Espinosa was eliminated. Putting his approach into the front left bunker, he couldn’t get up and down.
Of the remaining eleven, Pate ended up in the back left bunker and almost holed out, his shot stopping just short of the hole. Poulter hit an errant second, which led to a third in the front left bunker and a long sand shot. He made his “sandy” by hitting to within seven feet and making his par putt. Patton went with the driver and won the long driving contest at 304. Trying to get within pitching wedge distance, he put his second shot, a three-wood, into the trees. With not much of a look at the green but with the back right pin position in his sights, he put his approach into the rough between the right traps and got up and down for par. The remainder got on in regulation but were left with long putts and made two-putt pars.
EVENT #7 THE RUCKHAUS TOUR SECOND HOLE
Eleven moved on to the fifteenth hole. 420 yards, par four. Pin on the right middle, meaning that tee shots should be aimed to the left on the dogleg right. But most golfers can’t use the driver or maybe even the 3-wood as the fairway ends at about 290 off the tee with heavy rough and a stream waiting for those who hit it too far. Proper placement off the tee will leave somewhere between a seven- and nine-iron in. But don’t go over the pin as the green slopes from back to front. And don’t go too far right as a large bunker awaits.
It’s all over as only one person made birdie. But first…
All except Ken Green hit somewhere into the fairway or left rough, leaving a reasonably decent approach in. Green went well into the trees on the right but still managed to get his second to just off the front of the green, leaving a good shot at an up and down. But he couldn’t convert and made bogey.
Of those who hit the green in two, all but one two-putted. For Billy Joe Patton, it was a tee shot into the rough and a 2-iron punch to the back of the green. Facing a treacherous putt from over 40 feet, he two-putted. Andrew Magee two-putted from 36 feet and Lucas Glover missed from 15. Ian Poulter and Billy Andrade missed from nine feet.
And then there was Mark McNulty.
He hit his 3-wood down the right side of the fairway. Faced with a difficult approach over the bunker to a tight pin location, he went with a 6-iron and watched as his ball checked up five feet from the hole. Not knowing at the time that par would have been good enough to advance, McNulty calmly drained his putt, earning $180,000 and a full Staffa Tour card.
EVENT # THE STAFFA TOUR WINGED FOOT FIRST ROUND
Most of the 131 players spent their day scratching and clawing around the course with only 41 shooting par or better. And, with only two five pars, and one of them about two miles long, along with narrow fairways and small greens which didn’t hold a damned thing, there wasn’t much chance to go low.
But, in a field such as this, some people did. They always do. But, those same people might not show up tomorrow, replaced by others who might put it together for a round only to get shot down the next day.
That being said, the old Scotsman, Fred McLeod, is all alone at the top of the leaderboard, for today at least.
It must have been the extra caffeine in his coffee, tea, Red Bull or whatever he was drinking as six birdies and a bogey on the front side sent him out in 30. A couple short irons, both inside of six feet, led to birdies on the first two holes. The par three third was a routine two-putt par. Four wasn’t so pretty as an errant second led to a bogey. But that didn’t appear to affect McLeod as he just flew the green on the par five fifth but got up and down for birdie. He followed that with birdies on the short par four sixth, the par three seventh, where he parked an 8-iron to within six feet and the long par four eighth, where he hit a 4-iron approach to three feet. McLeod then holed out a bunker shot for birdie on the par three tenth before cruising home, birdieing fifteen before giving it right back on sixteen, eventually finishing with a 6-under 64.
Two others are one shot back as Tom Lehman and Craig Parry each shot a 65.
Lehman meandered around the course before finishing with a flourish, almost holing out his 8-iron approach on seventeen and landing within three feet with a 7-iron and converting for birdie on eighteen.
Parry, on the other hand, started out quickly. Not as fast as McLeod, mind you, but quick enough with birdies on three and four and an eagle on five, reaching the 530 yard hole in two and banging home a fourteen foot putt. Though the other par five gave away nothing, the fifth hole turned out to be the easiest on the course today with twelve eagles and 44 birdies and one of only three holes playing under par (4.59 with six, at 3.95, and seven, at 2.68 being the other two).
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:
Chad Campbell and Old Tom Morris are tied for fourth at 66. Mike Weir, Tommy Bolt, Stewart Gardner and Bob Toski are in a four-way tie for sixth at 67. And, in a six-way tie for tenth at 68 are Fred Funk, Ray Floyd, Sandy Herd, Seve Ballesteros, Paul Azinger and Camilo Villegas, who started three-over through four before turning it around.
SHOT OF THE DAY:
Campbell, on seven.
He ran off a five-under run starting with an eagle on five. After a birdie on six, Campbell stepped up to the shortest par-three on the course and deposited a 9-iron 155 yards into the cup for an ace.
IT’S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE:
Ian Woosnam, who holed out an 8-iron from 161 yards from the right rough for an opening hole eagle. Woosnam got it to 3-under with a third hole birdie but went 4-over the rest of the way, including doubles on eight and sixteen, to finish with a 1-over 71.
He was in the 131-man field but failed to show up for his tee time three times. Actually, after figuring out who was missing, I replayed the first round. No Metz. Did it again. No Metz. OK, he’ll play separately. Played AI for Metz and, when he got to the fourteenth (twice), I got an error messages (AI Tee – 0 and Error – 9, Subscript out of range.) So Metz decided to pack it in after thirteen it seems, which is what I presumed happened to him in the tournament.
Played Metz manually and, with birdies on one and four and bogeys on five and fourteen, shot an even par 70.
EVENT #7 THE STAFFA TOUR WINGED FOOT SECOND ROUND
It was geezer day at the golf course as a bunch of old names were atop the leaderboard. And, as predicted, the 6-under score at the top didn’t change much, only the names.
Sandy Herd came through with the second best round of the day, a 65, to put him in front at 7-under.
As with Fred McLeod yesterday, Herd did his best work on the front nine. It didn’t look that way at first as he started out of the gate with an errant approach leading to a bogey. But a fourteen-foot putt on two and a twelve-footer on three got the stroke right back and then one. And hitting the green in two on the par five fifth led to another birdie. And the very approachable front left pin placement on the sixth saw Herd drive the green on the 316 short par four then dropping an eight-footer for eagle.
One back is the duo of Old Tom Morris and Tommy Bolt.
Morris got derailed thanks to a poor approach on eight and a rotten tee shot on nine, both leading to bogeys. But he recovered a bit on the back side, first by holing out from the left rough from 163 for eagle on the long par five twelfth. Morris added putts of eleven and fourteen feet for birdies on fifteen and seventeen.
Bolt matched his 67 of yesterday with a nice five-hole run before almost becoming unglued at the end.
A 5-iron from 215 led to a six-footer for birdie on eight. An 8-iron to four feet and a pitching wedge to five led to back to back birdies on ten and eleven. And, on twelve, Bolt dialed long distance, sinking a 54 foot putt to make it three in a row. But, on sixteen, a drive into the trees and a poor approach cost Bolt a double bogey. Rattled, Bolt hit into the rough on seventeen with his second coming up short and in the heavy grass and was unable to get up and down, costing him another stroke. But Bolt left happy after hitting a 3-wood to the corner of the dogleg on eighteen then parking a 9-iron from 161 to within a foot.
As for yesterday’s leader, McLeod, he never could find his rhythm, as four birdies, three bogeys and a double led to a 1-over 71. In the end, the difference for McLeod was his putting, as he had far more two-putt greens and, though he hit one more green in regulation, he had seven more putts on those greens.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:
In a seven-way tie with Bolt for fourth are Jimmy Demaret, Trevor Immelman and Mike Fetchick (all with 66s today). Ray Floyd (67) and Bob Toski (67) are also part of that group as is Ian Woosnam, who had the round of the day.
Woosnam was up and down on the front side with four birdies, three pars and two bogeys. Even still, he was out in 2-under 33. But it was the run he put together starting on nine which defined his round. Nine saw Woosnam hook his drive way left. But, with a small opening, he hit a spectacular 2-iron from over 230 yards away to six feet, making the birdie. That led to a seven-footer for par on the par three tenth and a spot-on pitching wedge to seven feet on the eleventh. Approaches to three feet and two feet on fifteen and seventeen rounded out an impressive 64.
SHOT OF THE DAY:
Old Tom Morris with his 163 yard seven iron for eagle on the never-ending par three twelfth.
+3 with 78 golfers making it. Missing the boat. Chi-Chi (+4), Porky Oliver and KJ Choi (+5) and last week’s Ruckhaus Tour winner, Paul McGinley (+10). Good thing for him he has a full Staffa card.
Played by himself again today. Needing par at the last to limp into the weekend, he did just that, sinking a knee-knocking five-footer to do so. He finished with a 3-over 73 after an even-par 70 yesterday.
EVENT #7 THE STAFFA TOUR WINGED FOOT THIRD ROUND
Tight fairways, small hard greens (wait, am I writing about golf or some twisted sports-related porno story?) AND wind.
Congratulations to George Bayer, as he was the only player to break par today–and that by one with a 69. That won’t put him atop the leaderboard. Matter of fact, he’s tied for sixteenth, four back at 1-over. But it prevented him from backing up as most of the rest of the field did.
Bayer did a nice bit of scrambling to earn his score today.
Missing the green short and right on three, it took him a 23-foot putt to get up and down. He played “army golf” on five, hitting bunkers on his first two shots but making a par five. Eight was a “sandy” and nine was an up and down, as was twelve and sixteen. Interspersed was some good shooting as well: A sand wedge from 128 to three feet for birdie on two, a 6-iron on the par three tenth to seven feet for another birdie and a 32 foot putt on eleven for still another.
As for yesterday’s leader, Sandy Herd, well, though he has company, he still leads.
After putting a 9-iron to within five feet for birdie on the par three seventh, Herd got derailed on the eighth. Tree wood, then tree iron, then more grass than ball, then sand shot over the green, then on and then two putts for a triple bogey seven. Bogeys on ten, fourteen and eighteen more than canceled out his impressive birdie at the 232 yard par three thirteenth. 74 for Herd leaves him at 3-under for the three rounds.
Doing better than Herd, but still on the wrong side of par today were Jimmy Demaret (72) and Old Tom Morris (73).
Three of Demaret’s five bogeys came courtesy of greenside bunkers with the other two not too far away from them. It was pretty much the same thing for Old Tom as sand was involved in three of his four front side bogeys as he went out in 3-over 38.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:
Freddie Haas and Fuzzy Zoeller, both with even-par 70s today, are tied for fourth at 2-under. Christy O’Connor and Jug McSpaeden (both 72) and Ian Woosnam (74) are in a three-way tie for sixth at 1-under. And, in a seven-way tie for ninth at even par are John Ball (70), Jim Colbert (71), James Braid and Jimmy Hines (both 73), Bob Toski and Ray Floyd (both 75) and Tommy Bolt (76).
First round leader Fred McLeod, with six greens in regulation and seven bogeys, ballooned to a 77 and dropped into a tie for 22nd at +2.
SHOT OF THE DAY:
John Mahaffey on the par five fifth. Though playing under par, the hole wasn’t giving away eagles like it had the first two days (twelve in the first round and four yesterday) thanks to the wind, hard greens and the pin in the way back necessitating a player to hit a fairway wood or long iron onto the green and hoping to roll it up. Still, the hole was playing as the easiest on the course, with only that and seven as the two holes playing under par.
Facing 246 to the hole from the right side of the fairway, Mahaffey decided on a 2-iron. Clearing the left side of the front bunker, he rolled his ball to within five feet of the hole, knocking in the putt for an eagle three. Sadly, after a 34 front, Mahaffey finished double, bogey, double, bogey, coming home in 41. But he’s still within striking distance at +2.
After birdies on one and four, Metz joined the minions beaten up by the wind and hard greens and finished with a 4-over 74. That puts him a 7-over for the tourney, tied for 56th.
EVENT #7 THE STAFFA TOUR WINGED FOOT FINAL ROUND
Jimmy Demaret came through with a fine finishing kick. Unfortunately, he couldn’t overtake Old Tom Morris, only tie him, and the two will head to a playoff.
Morris actually led by four in the second to last group as he started the back nine.
Morris’ day didn’t start off well as a mis-aimed approach, a mediocre pitch and three putts led to a double bogey on one. But he recovered with fine approaches on two and four which got those strokes back. A tee shot into the trees led to a sixth hole bogey. But Morris recovered off of that too, by burying a 16-foot putt on the par three seventh for a birdie and a 14-footer on the eighth for another. Out in 34, it was four better than Demaret.
Demaret was actually 1-under for the day through seven before getting into trouble, much of it with his putter, on eight and nine.
A lousy tee shot on eight forced Demaret to get on the green in three, and that from over a hundred yards. Even still, he was within seven feet. But he missed that putt and then rimmed the cup from only a foot away, ending up with a double bogey six. Into the trees again on nine, he hit a solid 2-iron to just short and right of the green. His chip shot was a poor one, ending up more than twenty feet past the hole. Willing to settle for a two-putt bogey, instead he missed another short putt, this time from two feet.
There was a third member of the triumvirate who started the day at 3-under, Sandy Herd. But he was forced to scramble more than in any other round. Though he cashed in on some, some others got away. And with no birdies, he ended up with a 4-over 74 and finished five back at +1.
Onto the back nine.
With a four stroke lead on a difficult course, maybe Morris wanted to put it on cruise control and not make any mistakes. But we won’t know until the post-tournament press conference.
Playing what looked to be conservatively, Morris hit all but two greens on the back nine in regulation. On one he missed, the par three thirteenth, he just missed off the left side and hit a short chip to three feet which he converted. He wasn’t so lucky on seventeen, chipping to eight feet and missing the putt. But all that did was cancel out the birdie on the eleventh, where he hit a 2-iron down the middle of the fairway and a pitching wedge to thirteen feet, making the putt.
That 35 on the back nine forced his nearest challenger to shoot an incredible 31 just to tie.
And that was the man who had gone out in 38.
On ten, Demaret damn near holed out his tee shot, parking an 8-iron on the 181 yard hole to within a foot. After routine pars on eleven and twelve, though he missed a seven-footer for birdie on the latter, he went after the next par three, putting a 5-iron on the 212 yard thirteenth again within seven feet. This time he sank the putt. That carried over to the next hole. Though hitting his drive in the rough, Demaret had a straight shot in, albeit from 240 yards. His 2-iron hit the green and rolled up three feet behind the back pin location. Another birdie. Fifteen was a two-putt from 37 feet for par. On sixteen, Demaret again attacked the hole with a short iron. His drive was over 300 yards to the center of the dogleg and his 7-iron from 181 checked up on the rim of the cup. How it missed falling in is anyone’s guess, but Demaret, after shaking his head and wondering why he couldn’t get that extra inch, calmly tapped in for birdie.
Even up now, Demaret had two holes left to get a birdie.
Seventeen saw a 3-metal to the center of the sweeping dogleg and a 7-iron to eleven feet. But he missed that putt as he pushed the ball past the hole. Eighteen saw another dogleg and another 3-metal. But this one was off the mark, landing in the far corner of the dogleg near the bunker. Faced with a tough lie, even if the rough was ordered cut down by The Chairman, Demaret didn’t want to do anything stupid and went for the center of the green with a 7-iron. Accomplishing that, he two-putted from 19 feet to settle for a regulation tie with Morris.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:
Which means all will be headed to the Gerney Tour for next week…
James Braid (68 today) was two back at -2. John Ball and Bob Toski (both 69) and Fuzzy Zoeller (71), ended up tied for fourth at -1. Mike Weir (67) finished at even par 280. Al Besselink (68) joined Herd at +1. And, in a five-way tie for tenth at +2 were Antonio Cerda (68), Stewart Gardner and Mark O’Meara (71), Ray Floyd (72) and Christy O’Connor (73).
ROUND OF THE DAY:
Camilo Villegas, who passed a bunch of people by shooting a 65 and ending up in a five-way tie for fifteenth at 3-over. That earned him nearly $40,000 extra as even par would have netted Villegas only about $6,800.
Villegas had a horrible back nine yesterday, shooting bogey or worse on seven of the holes and coming in with a 43 and finishing with an 80. Fortunately, tomorrow (today) was another day. Not a single bogey on the scorecard and five birdies to boot. Only one more birdie and he would have been on the Gerney Tour next week.
He played fairly well but never could seem to get a rhythm going and, though he never had a three-putt green, never seemed to be able to make a one-putt which would have gotten his engine started. Matter of fact, had his seventeenth and eighteenth holes been one of the early ones, he might have shot in the mid-60s.
On seventeen, he had the perfect line on a putt from over 30 feet only to watch it stop just short. And, on eighteen, he hit an 8-iron approach to two feet and tapped in for birdie.
Metz’ end result: An even par 70 and 7-over for the tournament, which put him in a tie for 44th.
If you’re a provisional Staffa Tour member and miss the cut, out you go. Off to the Ruckhaus Tour are…
Billy Burke, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Rod Curl, Sam King, Roger Maltbie and Denis Watson.
EVENT # THE STAFFA TOU WINGED FOO PLAYOFF
One and done.
Morris has honors and puts his 3-metal into the center of the fairway leaving nearly 190 yards in. Demaret also found the fairway, but outdrove Morris by about ten yards and is in the corner of the dogleg, but with a straight shot in.
With the pin in the back left, both players don’t get cute and land on the green, albeit a bit to the right of the target. Both are over 20 feet away.
Morris is first to putt from 26 feet and leaves himself a testy four-footer. Demaret also seems to be a little tight and also leaves his 22 footer four feet away.
Demaret is just a bit outside of Morris and is the first to putt for par, burying it. Morris, not on the same line, lines up his putt and rims the cup.
In the post tournament press conference, Morris was asked about Winged Foot, especially how he played the back nine. In his Scottish brogue:
“Aye, lads, this course is tougher that what I played back home. We’ve got all the heavy grass and the wind, but this course is so much tighter–that’s how you put it, right?–and the greens so small and, most of the time they didn’t hold a blessed thing, that this course is certainly more difficult than anything back home.”
About playing conservatively on the back nine:
“Back home, we played and no one knew the scores until we added them up at the end. Though I couldn’t avoid those electronic thingies around the course showing the scores and the pictures of the golfers hitting their shots–fascinating, they are, aren’t they? I remember that some fellow wrote a book about ten years before I died the first time, “Golf in the Year 2000,” I think it was. Fanciful stuff. But reality tops anything that writer could come up with. Watching golf in some public square using large mirrors. How quaint! Anyway, I knew 34 on the front side was pretty good. Then I peeked and saw Jimmy’s score and figured, as long as I didn’t do anything stupid, I could probably win this thing. I’d do the same thing again. Then Demaret–Irish, is he? They play pretty well too (that got a laugh from the press crew, though it was noted that he was an American).–31? And on the final round of a tournament? And on a course like this? My goodness, I think he deserved to win, don’t you?”
EVENT #7 GERNEY TOUR WINGED FOOT FIRST ROUND
It was a windy day not far off Long Island Sound in Mamaroneck in southern Westchester County though the greens were holding–for a change.
And, as the field passes the quarter pole, it’s Jerry Pate in front by a length.
Pate moved in front early, going to 4-under after only seven holes as a birdie on two, thanks to dropping a nearly 20-foot putt got him his first red number of the day. And a long blast on four, though into the final cut of rough just off the fairway, led to a short iron to six feet for his second. The par five next hole, which was giving away some eagles on the Staffa Tour, gave up none today. Pate reached in two but would have had to drop a putt from another area code to make eagle. But he did two-putt for birdie. And, on the par three seventh, his 8-iron stopped within six feet, Pate converting that to go to 4-under.
But a tee shot into the trees on eight led to his first bogey of the day as Pate would play even par (two bogeys, two birdies) the rest of the way, some of it thanks to some good scrambling and/or a sharp putter. For instance, on nine, he missed the green right just past pin high and his chip out of the long grass wasn’t a good one, leaving a 19-foot putt just to make par. He did. And Pate just about closed out his round with two nice scramble pars. On sixteen, he put his tee shot well left. With an opening, at least down the left side, he put his second into large left side bunker and made a “sandy” for four. And, on seventeen, an errant approach into the greenside rough saw Pate chip within four feet of the hole already placed on the short side, at least as far as he was concerned. And he made that putt for par as well.
And so it’s Jerry Pate, with an opening round 66 leading the 120-man field by one.
His nearest competitor is a fellow named Woods, all alone in second with a 67.
Tiger pretty much kept the ball in play. Though he hit only nine of fifteen fairways, he always seemed to leave himself a second shot, hitting fifteen greens in regulation, and kept himself out of trouble, landing in only two greenside bunkers. The eighth hole provided a pretty decent example of Woods’ body of work today. He actually went with the driver off the tee, a bit of a surprise as most players tended to lay back and go for placement with a fairway metal. But, cutting the corner of the sweeping dogleg just right, he left himself 205 in from the middle of the fairway. With the pin in the way back, Woods went with a 5-iron when many before and after him either used a longer iron or fairway metal and watched as his ball stopped seven feet below the hole, that putt turning into a birdie three.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:
Gene Sarazen got it to 4-under twice during his round before dropping back and shooting a 68. Walter Hagen was a master at scrambling today. Facing getting up and down for par seven different times, he converted on all seven. He also shot a 68. Ted Kroll was 3-under before a fourteenth hole bogey and also finished with 68. Also in that group of seven with the same score are Mark Calcavecchia, who ran off four birdies in a row starting at four and was also at 4-under before finishing bogey-bogey, Retief Goosen, Ted Ray and Tom Weiskopf, who avenged his only birdie of the day on sixteen with a 11-foot for par on seventeen.
And, in a seven-way tie for tenth at 1-under 69 are Byron Nelson, Jim Furyk, Greg Norman, Ken Venturi, Arnold Palmer, Lloyd Mangrum and Rik Massengale.
EVENT #7 GERNEY TOUR WINGED FOOT SECOND ROUND
Conditions were as benign as they’ll ever get at Winged Foot. And the Gerney Tour field took advantage, the overall scoring dropping nearly two strokes (from 73.33 to 71.54) from the first round.
Yesterday’s top two golfers switched places on the leaderboard, as Jerry Pate’s 68, though impressive, paled by comparison to Tiger Woods’ 65.
For Woods, who shot 67 yesterday, today was almost a repeat performance as he again hit nine fairways and fifteen greens. One fewer putt and one extra sand save and he shaved two putts off his score and leads Pate, Ted Ray and Byron Nelson by two.
Woods stepped it up after three-putting for a sixth hole bogey. He started right away as his 8-iron tee shot on the par three seventh led to a four-footer for birdie. And, yesterday’s driver on the dogleg eighth was a 3-metal today. Though 15 yards further back, he chose the same approach club, a 5-iron, and stopped his ball within three feet of the back left pin placement. Nine was a scramble in which Woods had to save par with a ten-foot putt. Ten was tee shot to the deep right side bunker on the par three, a shot out that didn’t check up fast enough and ended in the rough on the other side of the green and a chip-in from there for par. Woods dropped a sixteen foot par putt for birdie on eleven. A sand save on the par five twelfth led to a par there and a fifteen-foot putt on the par three thirteenth saw Woods ring up another birdie. After a routine par on fourteen, Woods cashed in with his putter on fifteen. Leaving his approach short, Woods connected from 23 feet for his final birdie of the day.
5-under on the nine hole stretch starting at seven, 32 on the back nine and Woods vaulted to the top of the leaderboard with a 65.
As for Pate, he was a bit more up and down.
Errant approach shots led to bogeys on two and three. But Pate got those strokes back and then one with an eagle on five, thanks to getting close in two and nailing a ten-foot putt, and nearly driving the green on the short sixth hole. Putts of eleven and twenty feet netted birdies on ten and twelve. Then Pate’s game went to sleep as he missed the green on thirteen and couldn’t get up and down, a tee shot sprayed way right on fourteen was worth another bogey and a trip through the trees on sixteen was good (?) for still one more. But Pate recovered in time to leave Winged Foot with a good taste in his mouth, hitting spot-on approaches on seventeen and eighteen and birdieing both.
Ted Ray ran off five birdies in his first twelve holes and getting it to 7-under before coming unglued with bogeys on fourteen and sixteen and, like Pate recovered with a late birdie on seventeen before getting up and down for par on eighteen and finishing with a 66.
Byron Nelson bettered that by one thanks to an impressive 6-under run in a six-hole stretch to close out the front nine.
Nelson got his streak rolling with a 22-foot putt for birdie on three and two-putting from long distance on four. He drove the fifth and two-putted for birdie there and hit an 8-iron to within seven feet at the back pin placement on the par-three seventh. A fourteen-foot putt for birdie on eight and another from four feet further on nine closed out an impressive 31 front nine. The back nine was a little more mundane for Nelson as he had two birdies and a bogey.
ROUNDING THE TOP TEN:
Walter Hagen (67) is all alone in fifth at 5-under. And, in a five-way tie for sixth at 4-under are Jack Nicklaus (with a bogey to start, another to finish and 7-under in between), Arnold Palmer and Jim Furyk (both with 67s), Tom Weiskopf (68) and, with the round of the day, Jacky Cupit.
ROUND OF THE DAY:
Cupit, with a 64.
Honestly, it was nothing spectacular, just the lowest score posted by anyone. As was the case yesterday, Cupit started his day with a first hole birdie by dropping a short range putt. Generally, the birdies were thanks to fine approaches as none of those putts was from any longer than fourteen feet. Only the seventh hole, when he chipped in from about fifteen feet and just off the back of the green could be considered as “spectacular.” And, given a chance to gain a stroke or two on the two par fives, Cupit merely parred them.
+4, with 76 golfers sticking around for the weekend. Not making any money this week include Colin Montgomerie (+5), whose triple bogey seven on the ninth was indicative of the 75 he shot today, last week’s winner Doug Sanders, who needed par on eighteen to cash a check but hit his tee shot well into the trees instead, Vic Ghezzi, who shot 69 today but needed better than the 77 he shot in the opener, Andrew Strath, who shot 67 today but who couldn’t overcome yesterday’s back nine 41 and opening round 79 and Q-School winner Scott Verplank, who went his 36 holes without a birdie and stunk up the joint with a pair of 78s.
EVENT #7 GERNEY TOUR WINGED FOOT THIRD ROUND
Three rounds, three leaders, as Ted Ray took over the top spot with a 4-under 66. Not to worry, however, as the first and second round leaders, Jerry Pate and Tiger Woods, are still lurking in the top four.
After scramble pars in two of his first four holes, Ray’s eagle on the par-five fifth got his engine started. After a 339 yard blast, it took only 191 yards to reach the back pin placement. And he did that with a 7-iron. Seven events into his second life as a pro golfer and Ray still hasn’t gotten quite used to the results achieved with today’s equipment as he acknowledged the gallery with a bit of a coquettish smile after his approach.
After two routine pars and another scramble, Ray birdied the over 500-yard ninth with another 330-plus yard drive and another 7-iron. He followed that with a ten foot putt for par on the par three tenth before hitting the doldrums.
Twelve was an errant tee shot and some sloppy play around the green which led to a double bogey. After two-putting from long distance on the par three thirteenth, fourteen saw Ray pull his approach, ending up well into the rough to the left of the green and making a bogey five. But sinking putts of thirteen and twenty feet on the final two holes left Ray not only with a brighter mood but also as the leader after three rounds.
Jumping over fellow competitors into second place was Lloyd Mangrum, who posted the best round of the day with a 64.
Mangrum started his day with two short one putts for birdie. He strung two together just like it on six and seven. Though nine was a rough go, ending up behind a tree, having no shot and being forced to take a drop, leading to a double bogey, Mangrum, undaunted, ran off three birdies in a row on putts of thirteen, six and eleven feet. His approaches almost always spot on, Mangrum’s thirteen-footer on ten was his longest birdie putt of the day. After a fourteenth hole bogey in which he ended up in the greenside bunker in two, Mangrum closed out his round with birdie putts of two and six feet. A note: If Mangrum stays close, eighteen could be the place where he wins it as he’s birdied it each day, all on fairly short putts.
As for Mr. Woods, he’s all alone in third at 8-under. The outward trip was painful, as he sprayed a number of shots, resulting in four bogeys. Fortunately, he birdied the par five fifth after reaching in two and almost drove the green on six, getting up and down for another birdie. That sent him to the snack bar in 37. But three birdies on the back nine, none on putts shorter than 11 feet, to go along with a sixteenth hole bogey and Woods came back in 33, finishing at even par 70.
The same held true for first round leader Jerry Pate, though his nines were reversed. Out in 33, thanks in part to a three consecutive hole run of birdies starting at the fourth, Pate came home in 37, bogeying sixteen (errant tee shot) and seventeen (flying the green and a bad chip) in the process.
Joining Pate in fourth at 6-under are Clayton Heafner (66) and Walter Hagen (69). And, in a four-way tie for seventh at 5-under are Greg, Norman, Ben Hogan, Johnny Palmer and Gene Littler (all with 67s). After making a run yesterday, Byron Nelson shot a 2-over 72 and is in a six-way tie for eleventh at 4-under.
EVENT #7 GERNEY TOUR WINGED FOOT FINAL ROUND
After two blissfully benign days, the wind was up for the final round. And it turned out to be Ted Ray’s to lose. And he just about did.
Before I get to the action, it should be noted that only two players, both out of contention, broke par today (Mark Calcavecchia, 68 and finished in 21st, and Sam Snead, 69 and finished in 17th). So, the scores at the top end of the leaderboard, while they were earned by grinding it out, we’re pretty.
It was, unquestionably, Ray’s to win as 1-over through fifteen was actually good enough as his nearest competitors, Lloyd Mangrum, Tiger Woods and Jerry Pate were backing up at a slightly faster rate. Looking back, all Ray had to do was to play the final three holes in 2-over and he’d earn more money for four days of work than he and all his contemporaries combined while in their first careers earned in their entire lives.
And he couldn’t do it.
On sixteen, the 480 yard dogleg left par four, Ray outdrove the fairway to the corner of the dogleg. Though he had a look at the green, it wasn’t much and he left his 6-iron in the heavy grass between the green and the left side bunker. It took him three to get up and down.
On seventeen, Ray went with he thought was a safer fairway metal. But on the sweeping dogleg right, he still missed the fairway. With a decent look at the green nonetheless, the clubface on his 5-iron opened just a bit and he ended up in the deep bunker to the right of the green. Unfortunately he got more ball than sand on his third shot and flew the green to the other side. In the deep grass, he chili-dipped his chip and came up short of the green, stopping on the fringe. Even still, he had only seven feet for bogey and missed that, dropping two more strokes. His game now losing oil at an alarming rate, Ray put it together for one final push. Hitting off the eighteenth tee with a 3-metal, he finally found the fairway. With 170 in, his 8-iron checked up five feet from the cup. And he missed the putt!
74 for Ray today and 6-under for the tournament.
Lloyd Mangrum, one back starting today’s play, couldn’t get his engine started, as bogeys on two, three and four sent him in a downhill spiral from which he couldn’t recover.
Hitting the fairway bunker on two cost Mangrum a stroke, as did landing in the greenside bunker on the par three third. He just missed the fairway bunker on four and, left with a terrible lie, made yet another bogey, having to hit a spectacular second from under the trees to do so. Mangrum’s coup de grace was on eighteen. Having birdied the hole the first three days, he couldn’t repeat his performance, finding yet another fairway bunker and making a bogey five. 75 today for Mangrum and 4-under for the tourney.
Tiger Woods got hammered almost from the opening bell but managed to remain standing for the full eighteen.
Two was a three-putt bogey. Four was a tee shot which just missed the fairway. Woods took a flyer out of the rough and flew the green with plenty of room to spare. He chipped on and two-putted for another bogey. Hoping to make up some ground on the par five next, Woods’ drive again found the rough and, again, not missing the short grass by much. He pulled a 2-iron well into the trees to the left of the green and, unable to find enough people to lift the tree out of the ground and move it, was only able to advance the ball a few feet before chipping on and two-putting for bogey.
After two routine pars, Woods scrambled on eight and nine to make par and go out in 3-over 38.
The back nine was better for Woods, managing to play it a stroke under par, scrambling a bunch to do so.
It started with a missed opportunity as a seven-footer for birdie on ten skidded wide before dropping a twenty-footer for birdie on eleven. Twelve and sixteen were “sandies,” while thirteen, fifteen and eighteen were two-putts from long distance. Fourteen was a scramble par and seventeen was a forty-footer which wasn’t hit hard enough and didn’t make it to the ridge on the green which would have eventually fed his ball at least close to the hole. Faced with a nineteen foot downhill putt for par, Woods nailed it. 2-over 72 for Woods today and 6-under for the tourney.
Jerry Pate needed to shave one stroke off his round somewhere. It could have been on seventeen, where his greenside bunker shot stopped on the lip of the cup. Or, it could have been on eighteen, where a fourteen-footer for birdie again stopped on the lip of the cup. Or it could have been on sixteen, where a rotten tee shot and a second which could only be advanced to within a hundred yards of the green where he hit a horrible approach, two-putting for bogey from over 30 feet. It could have been any one of those three. 1-over 71 for Pate today finishing one back at 5-under.
Clayton Heafner, four back starting play today, was up and down today.
A poor tee shot on four led to a bogey. But he bounced back with an up and down for birdie at the par five fifth.
And it was the same story on eight and nine and ten and eleven.
After a fine tee shot on eight, Heafner pushed his approach into the right side bunker and couldn’t get up and down. But, though he missed the green just right on nine, he dropped his short chip shot in for birdie. Landing in the deep left side bunker on the par three tenth, he couldn’t get up and down, making bogey there. But he birdied eleven for the third day in a row and, once again, on a pinpoint approach (putts of 8, 8 and 7 feet over the three rounds). With Ray still out in front, Heafner figured his round would be good for a decent-sized check and that would be that.
So, his bogey on sixteen, when he couldn’t get up and down out of the sand, was only a minor disappointment for Heafner, playing two groups ahead of Ray and Mangrum. But, as Ray backed up, that bogey turned out to be the difference between winning and a playoff as his even-par 70 saw him finish at 6-under as well.
And, as players backed up at different rates today with one holding his ground, three men, Ray, Woods and Heafner, are headed to eighteen for the playoff.
EVENT #7 GERNEY TOUR WINGED FOOT PLAYOFF
Due to a clerical error (me), the playoff started at 15 (I thought I entered 18 as the first hole with 15, 16, 17 & 18 if necessary).
Ray was first to tee it off and hooked a 3-metal well into the trees on the left. Woods, trying to become the first repeat winner on either tour, saw that and went back to his bag for a 2-iron, his intent to just keep the ball in play. But, as in regulation, he had trouble finding the fairway, pulling his ball into the rough and, with trees in his way, leaving no shot into the green. Heafner went with a 3-metal and couldn’t have placed it any better–266, center fairway and at the corner of the gentle dogleg left.
Though well into the woods, Ray had a shot over the trees to the green and hit a spectacular 4-iron safely on, leaving a bit over 20 feet to the hole. Woods tried to advance the ball as far as he could, but pulled his 7-iron under the trees about 60 yards from the green. With a perfect lie and the green staring him in the face 177 yards away, Heafner yanked an 8-iron. Fortunately, it stayed on the front left of the green. Unfortunately, he’s be looking at a 55 foot putt.
Woods, with a difficult lie and a lousy angle to the green pushed his pitch shot off to the right of the green and would need a miraculous chip-in to have any hope of remaining in the playoff.
The three words you don’t want to hear on the golf course: “Still your turn.” Woods’ fourth was chipped on but with still ten feet to go. Realistically, he was cooked. So, for the sake of this write-up Woods two-putted for a double bogey.
Heafner was first to putt and lagged one to within three feet. Ray went for it and missed just wide.
Both men with pars, Heafner and Ray moved on to the sixteenth.
Ray placed a 3-metal perfectly – left side of the fairway and with 167 in. Heafner tried to do likewise but didn’t correctly factor the wind into the equation, his ball rolling just into the left rough.
Heafner was first to play and pushed a 6-iron into the right greenside bunker while Ray hit an 8-iron safely on and only eleven feet away.
Heafner hit a poor bunker shot but landed on the putting surface but still outside of Ray’s ball. “Still your turn,” as Heafner missed with his fifteen-footer then dejectedly tapping in for bogey.
Needing two putts from not too far away, Ray almost screwed up, running his ball five feet past the hole. After the collective gasp from the gallery, Ray sized up his uphill putt then knocked it in.
That makes Ted Ray the seventh different winner in as many events on the Gerney Tour and $1,800,000 richer.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:
Jerry Pate finished fourth at -5. Lloyd Mangrum was a stroke behind in fifth. Jack Nicklaus, Walter Hagen and Ted Kroll finished in sixth at -3. And, tied for ninth were Greg Norman, Tom Weiskopf, Vijay Singh and JH Taylor, all at -2.
Harold Hilton, Dave Hill, Andrew Strath, George Duncan, Mark Hayes, Jay Hebert, Brad Faxon, Allan Robertson, Toney Penna, Tom Purtzer and Robert Allenby.