Gore a Different Player This Time Around

By Mercer BaggsAugust 24, 2005, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)He looks the same as he did in 2001, when he first received his PGA Tour card. The same as he did in 2003, when he got it back for a second time.
At 61 and listed as a generous 235 pounds, he was impossible to miss then, just as he is now.
Jason Gore
Jason Gore hopes to continue his winning ways on the PGA Tour.
This looks like the same Jason Gore of four and two years ago, smiling from ear to ear, personable as can be. But nowadays people are taking notice of the 31-year-old Californian. Theyre wishing him well, wanting to take their picture with him, asking him for an autograph.
This, in fact, is not the Jason Gore of four and two years ago. And its not just the outside world thats changed around him.
Gore is starting his third stint on the PGA Tour, having won three Nationwide Tour events in successive starts to earn his promotion. He is making his 2005 debut as a card-carrying member at this weeks Buick Championship in Hartford, Conn.
Its very exciting to be back, he said in a Tuesday press conference. Still trying to level things off in life, but look forward to this week, most definitely.
It could be said that Gore got to where he is now because of events that took place in mid-June in Pinehurst. But the trace marks on this Then-to-Now map actually originate in Sunland, Calif.
Thats where Gore made it through local qualifying for the U.S. Open, thus creating the establishing point for his professional transformation.
These roots stretched to Atlanta, Ga., where he made it through sectional qualifying, and extended on to the tiny golfing town in central North Carolina.
I had to go through both stages of qualifying to get to the Open, Gore said. Kind of felt like something good was happening.
It sure didnt feel that way when thieves vandalized his car, stealing his stereo, his computer, his wifes clothing, and even his underwear. That was the inauspicious start to his U.S. Open week; one that would end by shooting the highest score of the final round.
But what happened in between was almost magical.
Gore shot 71-67-72 for an even-par total and a spot in the final twosome after 54 holes. He closed in 84 to tie for 49th. But the sins of that Sunday number were quickly forgiven and forgotten, washed away in a sea of applause and appreciation.
I didnt play well on Sunday, but I learned something about myself, he said. You know, I didnt walk off the golf course and storm off and break something. I took it for what it was, and I think the crowd at Pinehurst kind of really helped me realize that; that it really wasnt that important.
Michael Campbell won the U.S. Open by two, but Gore won over the public by a landslide.
Upon leaving Pinehurst, Gore approached a fork in the road. He could go left and stay on the PGA Tour path, using his new fame to barter for sponsors exemptions. Or he could go right ' right back to the Nationwide Tour.
For a family man looking long term, it really wasnt that difficult a decision to make.
My goal was to stay on the Nationwide Tour and get my (PGA) Tour card through that way, and it happened, knock on wood, extremely fast, he said.
I wasnt expecting to be in this chair (in the media room) in Hartford, but it happened extremely quick. I guess I made the right choice.
Gore was hoping his U.S. Open success would fuel a run up the Nationwide money list. He returned ranked 67th in earnings, needing to break into the top 20 by seasons end to earn PGA Tour status.
The heavyweight was prepared, in boxing terms, to go the distance over the remainder of the year, try to slug-out a win or two, and somehow, someway earn a judges decision.
It turned out to be an early KO.
Gore became the first Nationwide player to win three straight starts, the third player in tour history to shoot 59, and, most importantly, the seventh player to earn a battlefield promotion ' all in just four starts, all just six months after nearly hanging up his spikes.
Gore started this year with conditional status on the secondary circuit, as well as serious doubts as to whether or not this was the type of nomadic ' and monetarily sporadic ' life a new husband/father should be leading.
Hes now a renewed PGA Tour member with renewed confidence ' and a pretty high Q-rating, to boot.
He has the remainder of the season and all of next to once again prove that he belongs on golfs grandest stage. To show that this is, in fact, a new Jason Gore.
Hopefully, Ive become a more matured player and its just trying to learn something new every day, he said. I know what a boring clich that it, but thats basically the truth.
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