Heintz goes from Q-School regular to Penn golf coach

By John FeinsteinNovember 7, 2012, 7:58 pm

Bob Heintz signed his scorecard, walked out of the scoring area at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club in Flordia and shook his head.

“Time to go scoreboard watch again,” he said with a wry smile. “I feel a little bit ghoulish standing there, hoping guys go backwards but I don’t have much choice.”

This was seven years ago at second stage of the 2005 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. Heintz had played the PGA Tour that year, but lost his card. He wasn’t alone. Among those playing second stage that year were Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Steve Pate, Guy Boros and Mike Hulbert.

As it turned out, several players in the late groups went backwards on the back nine and Heintz survived on the number.           

“When you see those big numbers go up you have mixed emotions,” he said. “You know it’s good for you but a lot of the time it’s someone you know and you feel bad for him. But in the end, if you’re being honest with yourself, you’d rather feel bad for someone who isn’t you.”

Three weeks later, at Q-School finals, Heintz felt bad for himself. He walked off the course after the sixth and final round and headed back to the scoreboard. This time there weren’t quite enough high numbers in the late afternoon and Heintz knew he was headed back to what was then the Nationwide Tour.

“In a sense, those two weeks were a microcosm of my career,” he said earlier this week. “I spent a lot of time staring at Q-School scoreboards. I always made my share of birdies, so what it came down to was that I always made just enough mistakes that, instead of walking to my car and saying, ‘OK, let’s go get ready to play on Tour,’ I was standing around hoping. Just think how much of that time I could have spent practicing.”

Heintz is now 42 and his days of staring at scoreboards are over. He was hired in September as the golf coach at the University of Pennsylvania, a return to his Ivy League roots. He was a three-time Ivy League champion at Yale, which was pretty good for someone who thought his best sport in high school was baseball. That’s not surprising, considering that his younger brother, Chris, was good enough to play for the Minnesota Twins.

However, three years after graduating from Yale, in 1992, he honestly didn’t think he was good enough to play on the PGA Tour.

“The first time I played (Q-School) finals, I felt completely overwhelmed, like I didn’t belong,” he said. “I played a practice round with Jesper Parnevik, who was moving from the European Tour to the PGA Tour. He had won, I think, the Scottish Open that year. He was so good. I felt completely intimidated before I’d hit a shot.

“I struggled on the Nike Tour in ’94 and didn’t even make it back to finals that year. My wife and I were getting ready to have our first child. There was also that question in my mind about is this what I should be doing with a Yale degree.”

He decided to put the economics degree to use in 1996 by going to work for Edward Jones, the investment firm. He did fine as a money manager but wasn’t especially happy doing it. He put on weight and began to look unhealthy to some of his friends. Finally, the week before Christmas in 1997, Dave Paterson, who had been his coach at Yale, showed up on his doorstep.

“He was in town (Tampa) doing something and we invited him to the house to dinner,” Heintz remembered. “I opened the door and his first words were, ‘Bob, you look like s----. Why aren’t you playing golf anymore?’”

Heintz explained that he had a newborn daughter and that he had run out of money trying to play golf for a living.

“Do you remember where you went to college?” Paterson asked him. “I can raise sponsorship money for you. Just give me the word.”   

With help from Paterson and his father-in-law, Heintz headed off to Hooters Tour Q-School a couple of months later with a $40,000 head start.

“I wasn’t sure I could make it through their Q-School and then I ended up very high on their money list,” Heintz said. “That really helped my confidence. I learned how to play four-round tournaments week in and week out. I’d only been partially exempt on the Nike (Tour) in ’94 so I didn’t get to play that much. That was a big step for me.”

Heintz made it back to PGA Tour Q-School finals in 1998 and was fully exempt on the Nike Tour a year later. He won twice in ’99, including at the Nike Tour Championship, jumping him from 16th on the money list to sixth. In those days, only the top 15 automatically moved on to the PGA Tour.

“I went into that last tournament thinking I had two great chances to make the (PGA) Tour,” he said. “Even if I didn’t make the top 15, I was exempt into the finals (of Q-School) and I really believed I would make it. By then I knew I was good enough.”

Of course, good enough to make the Tour is different than good enough to stay on the Tour. Heintz was an exempt player on PGA Tour on five different occasions – once in 2000 and then four more times after surviving his Q-School scoreboard stare-downs. “Every time I made it, I made it close,” he said, laughing. “I never breezed.”

The last time he made it through the finals was in 2006. He played the last day with a very young and confident Anthony Kim and an older and very nervous Michael Bradley. “I’ll never forget the feeling being with those two guys that day,” he said. “Anthony hit driver every hole, just hit it and started walking to some place way past Michael and me. Michael wanted to make it back to the Tour so much I think he hit two drivers all day. I had to walk away from him a couple times because I could feel the tension dripping off him. Somehow, we all made it.”

Heintz came closest to winning on the primary circuit in 2010, when he got into the Reno-Tahoe Open as an alternate and had a 3 12-foot putt on 18 on Sunday to put himself into a playoff with Matt Bettencourt. “I tried to make sure I didn’t just wish the putt at the hole,” he said. “I got a little over-excited and pulled it.'

He admits that when he sees Bettencourt pop onto his TV screen nowadays, he still thinks back to what might have been. “He certainly made the most out of the win and good for him,” he said. “But every once in a while when I see him out there I think to myself, ‘Are you kidding me?’ But at least it gave me a teaching tool I can use with the kids I’m coaching now.”

Heintz began to look for his next chapter towards the end of 2011. He could feel himself running out of steam on the now Web.com Tour. With four kids at home, grinding it out, hoping to find something again, began to feel like too big a hill to climb. Then came the opportunity at Penn.

“It’s all new right now but so far I love it,” he said. “I’m learning as I go. In the fall tournaments this year I let my guys make mistakes on the golf course a few times because that’s how you learn. After they made a decision that went wrong I said, ‘Let’s talk about what went into that decision.’ It’s taken me a while to figure out how to best use my education. What I think I know now is the area where I have the most expertise is golf. So why not use that knowledge and be on a job that I really think I’m going to enjoy?”    

There’s one added benefit to his new life: He doesn’t need to drag himself over to watch scoreboards any more.

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.