But after a week in the rain, even the enthusiasts had to take cover! The River Region runneth over with water, and not drama, as we had expected at the Buy.Com Tour Championship. Now, I'm about as positive a person as there is, but even I must admit that the glass wasn't half full or half empty, it was overflowing with moisture! And my excitement about what just happened has washed away.
Patrick Moore won the rain-shortened 54-hole event and thus earned the top spot on the money list and an instant promotion to the PGA Tour because the victory was his third. Moore, who will now tee it up this week at the PGA Tour's Southern Farm Bureau Classic, is a great story. He's a man who began the year with limited status on the Buy.Com Tour and 'Monday qualified' his way to the first of three wins. Moore was a relative unknown who flew in under the radar this season and stole this tour's biggest prize. Too bad the tour's biggest prize played out under the green, yellow and sometimes red glare of a doppler radar.
Todd Barranger began the week 15th on the money list. Ironically, it was the same position he held going into the Tour Championship a year ago. He opened with a stellar 65, which just happened to be 20 strokes lower than the score he signed for in Round 1 last year. Barranger played the PGA Tour back in the mid '90s, but lost his status and nearly his life due to testicular cancer. He survived, and fought his way back to challenge once again for a position on golf's grandest stage.
When fourth round play was called on Sunday Barranger was a survivor of a different kind. He finished 15th on the final money list.
'I was spilling major oil,' Barranger said of his nerve-tested late play, which, good news for him, ulimately never counted. And we'll never know if he'd have finished in the same fashion as he started the week. Mother Nature took that drama away from us.
Jay Delsing is a 42-year-old professional who's spent 15 full years on the PGA Tour, and because of a second round 63 was in position for a return trip. Nunber 19 on the money list coming into the week, Delsing was excited about the chance to crash the Buy.Com Tour's top-15 victory party. But after Delsing went low, the rain levels crept higher and higher. Delsing moved up just one spot to 18th when the 54 hole scores were tallied. Who knows, it could have been different.
Walking the soggy Senator Course, I still have visions of 21-year-old Aaron Baddeley standing in disbelief in the 15th fairway in Round 4 on Sunday when the horn blew for what was to be the final time. 'It's just rain!,' he said.
And how about Jeff Klauk? The son of a course superintendent, Klauk began the week 42nd, but had the lead at one point on Sunday. Dad and son have no doubt spent plenty of time together making courses 'playable' in bad weather, but this time they had no control. Klauk left Prattville without the big move and the big prize because Round 4 never made it into the books.
Truth be told, Buy.Com Tour officials did what they could to make it work on Sunday. After play was halted, the scrambling began to get the course 'playable.' But with daylight an issue and a required number of players NOT done with their rounds to make the round 'official,' the decision was made. Ultimately, according to officials, the tour's 'regulations' would not allow a round to continue a round that they knew could not be completed.
Rain, you see, just wasn't going to give in. 'We may need to look into the regulations a bit. ' said Buy.Com Tour Chief Operating Officer Bill Calfee.
Don't get me wrong. We did see some good golf. And some great shots. But this tournament is supposed to be about drama that plays out over 72 holes at least. I don't make the regulations, or the weather forecasts, but I feel robbed. I'm not alone. And something tells me that while my rain gear is drying this week, I won't be able to just ring out the disappointment.
In the end, the always-talked-about, hyped-since-the-beginning-of-the-season, 'top 15' didn't have a single new member. Just guessing, but somehow that 'reward' for all the shots and putts during a season of dreams must feel a little bit tainted, even to the fortunate ones.
Fifty-four players showed up to contest the Buy.Com Tour Championship in Prattville, with all intentions of making it a week to remember. The 28th week on the Buy.Com Tour schedule is supposed to be the best of the year. Unfortunately, I think all we'll remember is the weather. And that's a darn shame for the hard-working folks who put the tournament together and the hard-working players who had worked so hard to show off in front of them.