Gore Suddenly Living the Good Life

By Alison PierceSeptember 23, 2005, 4:00 pm
Nationwide TourJason Gore began this year ranked as the 818th best golfer in the world. This week, as the latest PGA Tour winner, he is ranked 88th. Now Americas favorite everyman relishes his arrival, smothered in the warm light of distinction and the confusing aura of celebrity.
Its almost embarrassing kind of, says Gore, that familiar-by-now smile abashed by the media attention. To tell you the truth, nothings really changed.
Jason Gore
With his win at the 84 Lumber Classic, Jason Gore has seen his ranking climb from 818th at the start of the year all the way up to 88th.
Except, of course, that exactly three months and four days ago all the belongings were stolen out of his car in North Carolina, and he was worried about money. Real worried.
Then, last Sunday at the 84 Lumber Classic, they handed him a check for $792,000.
Its all happened so fast, its overwhelming. But its not going to change me as a person, Gore insists.
And the proof is right here this week, back on the Nationwide Tour at the Albertsons Boise Open. Gore is the first PGA Tour winner to return to the second-best tour the week after winning on the PGA Tour.
Why is he here? Because he said he would be.
This weeks tournament director Jeff Sanders expected nothing less. Once he committed, no matter what, he was coming, says Sanders. Because we know him from the past we have a special relationship. Hes got a fan base here.
To say the least.ticket sales have increased by over 100 percent since tournament officials announced Gore was returning. His distinct figure even graces billboards around town announcing -Jason Gore is coming to Boise!
The Boise Open holds certain significance for Gore as well. In 1997, not too long after graduating from Pepperdine University, Albertsons offered Gore an invitation to play. He considered it an enormous opportunity. But as he was heading out the door that September morning to fly to Idaho, Gore found his father face down on the floor.
Basically he died of a heart attack the day I turned pro, said Jason, emotions welling. Needless to say, he didnt make it to the tournament that day.
Gore did however make it back to Boise in 2002 to take the trophy and he hasnt forgotten the faith that people here had in him back then. Im here to help the tournament any way I could.
I think its indicative of the kind of person he is, says Albertsons CEO Larry Johnston. He knows where he came from, he has tremendous humility and at the same time is a tenacious competitor. We really like him a lot.
Wednesday after playing his pro-am round, Gore wanders by the Hillcrest clubhouse in the flat afternoon sun. He looks happy, he looks unhurried, he looks wiped out. He hardly gets a few paces before a well-wisher approaches.
This time its Jason Enloe, ranked 135th on the Nationwide Tour money list. Enloe extends his hand and a truly genuine smile, Congratulations man, he beams, Good for you. Great to see you.
Golf Channel host Brian Anderson, who travels every week with the Nationwide Tour, knows how well loved Gore is among the players.
With Gores win, [at the 84 Lumber] he validated what these guys are doing out here on the Nationwide Tour, says Anderson.
I hope they realize that this could happen to any one of them. I hope they can use it as an inspiration, says Gore, who partly feels guilty for being here this week because he doesnt want to take away earnings that might help another player earn a PGA Tour card.
But on the other hand, I want to bring some exposure to this [Nationwide] tour that really needs and deserves it, says Gore. This isnt the second-best tour. Its just that there isnt enough room for all the players that deserve to play on the PGA Tour.
So how did Gore do it? Golf analysts are convinced that his fairytale success has come from a total mental makeover and the work of a mysterious figure known as Dr. Preston Waddington, his sports psychologist.
Gore just laughs at this, Hes not really a normal sports psychologist really. Basically all he did was get inside me, how I work, and how I was raised. He let me free up and realize that it just wasnt so important. The last putt on Sunday and the first drive on Thursday are equally important.
Overall, Jason says he is relaxed. He is having more fun playing. It is just a game he is lucky to play for a living. hit it, chase it and find it, and hit it again. Its simple.
Its hard for Jason to set goals now, says Anderson. He keeps knocking them off so fast and he has to re-up.
But Jason has goals.
It would be really cool to play at Augusta, he says quietly almost as if he cant believe he said it.
Hes calculated that the easiest route to The Masters is to move from his position at 88th to inside the top 50 in the world ranking. This late in the year it would be tough to do it through the money list, he says. Unlesshe won again. Hmmm.
Its amazing where a little perseverance and grit and maybe a little ignorance can take you, says Gore in a press conference. Anything is possible with desire and ambition, and for Gods sake, I even graduated college!(laughter)
At this moment Gores future looks secure, and perhaps hell even lay low for a while. But dont count on it, his latest goals are just beginning to percolate.
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