No 1 A Season Unlike Any Other

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 1, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 Stories of the Year - #1Editor's note: is counting down the top 10 stories from the 2005 golf season. This is Story No. 1.
It wasnt supposed to be this way.
That statement alone pretty much lays a blanket over Jason Gores 2005 season. His entire career, in fact.
Gore was a struggling professional. It wasnt supposed to be that way. He was an accomplished amateur who appeared to have all the tools necessary to be a successful pro.
Jason Gore
Jason Gore was a member of Pepperdine's NCAA Championship team and the victorious Walker Cup team in 1997.
When he finally made it to the PGA Tour, he flamed out and lost his card. That certainly wasnt supposed to happen. He was supposed to take advantage of his opportunity, not squander it ' twice.
He contemplated quitting the game in order to better provide for his wife and newborn son. It wasnt supposed to be like this. Being a golfer ' a player ' is what he was supposed to be.
It just wasnt supposed to be this hard for Jason Gore. But it had been this way ever since the day he turned professional ' the day his father died suddenly of a heart attack.
By the time this year's U.S. Open rolled around, he was a has-been, a never-was, a 31-year-old who had started the year playing something called the A.G. Spanos Tour in his native California and had to take a $12,000 loan just to keep his dream alive.
When youre not seeing what you think you should be seeing and nothing is really paying off, maybe you can stop and look in the mirror and say, This just isnt for me, Gore said. I think the low point was probably five or six weeks before the Open and thinking, This probably isnt going to work out. I was struggling. I was whining and complaining and just not doing what I had to do.
Its hard to sit there and face up to yourself and say, Hey, listen, nobody owes you anything. You have to go out and make your own destiny.
He eventually did that. But not before life got in one more sucker punch.
On his way to Pinehurst, vandals broke into his SUV. They stole just about everything they could get their criminal hands on, except his golf clubs, which were with his caddie, and his perspective.
Nobody was hurt. I still had my wife and family, and thats what it comes down to. It was just a car, he said.
Thats really kind of what it was, and thats the way I started looking at golf. Its just golf; its just a game.
What transpired that week in the quaint North Carolina golfing destination, however, was more than just golf, more than just a game. It was a life-changing experience.
After two rounds, Gore was tied atop the leaderboard at 2 under. He hung in with a 2-over 72 on Saturday to keep him within three strokes of the lead entering the final round. He made birdie on the final hole to secure a spot in the final twosome alongside defending champion Retief Goosen.
When I made that putt I kind of pointed at it, a la Tiger, Gore recalled. I looked at my caddie afterward and said, Did I just point the ball into the hole? And he said, Yeah, you did. And I said, What a cheese ball.
Yeah, but the public ate up that cheese ball. They loved the big man. The 61, 235-pound teddy bear with the collar buttoned to the top and the huge, omnipresent smile.
And when he shot 84 on Sunday to finish tied for 49th, they gave him a standing ovation. He had not only entertained them, but impressed them ' and endeared himself to them.
Jason Gore
Gore won four of his next eight starts after the U.S. Open.
This was supposed to be it. This was supposed to be the curtain call.
This was not expected: three straight wins almost immediately upon his return to the Nationwide Tour; a round of 59; a promotion back to the PGA Tour; a victory in the 84 Lumber Classic; his picture on magazine covers; guest spots on national talk shows; over $1 million in just three months.
He could now pay back his loan ' with interest, buy a new truck, even get his son a sweet swing set for his first birthday.
And he could do what he wanted to do most of all: play golf for a living, and enjoy doing so.
I think Im happy with everything thats happened, but Im not satisfied. Its one of those things you have to keep working hard to try and get better. Thats what Im trying to do, said the man who sports a wristband that reads: Never Give Up.
Its actually made me a lot hungrier.
Complacency will not hinder Gore, and he doesnt have to dig that far back in his memory bank to find every reason why.
Around May I was going to the store and was wondering if I was going to be able to get formula for my child, wondering if I was going to be able to afford it and wondering if I was going to make a house payment, he said after winning his first PGA Tour event. And now look.
To know that just five, six months ago I was thinking about hanging it up It's amazing where a little perseverance and grit and maybe a little ignorance can take you.
Now this is the way its supposed to be.
Related Links:
  • Jason Gore's Bio
  • A (Fairy)Tale of Two Seasons
  • U.S. Open Coverage
  • 84 Lumber Classic Coverage
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.