Gores Triple Highlights Nationwide Season

By Sports NetworkDecember 14, 2005, 5:00 pm
Nationwide TourDuring one Sunday night in mid-June, a bubbly family man from Southern California was robbed on his way to play in the U.S. Open.
 
The thieves took his underwear, his car stereo, and just about everything else in a car with no kitchen sink.
 
It was a spectacularly cruel way to begin the week -- with no underwear! -- but luckily for Jason Gore, his clubs and golf shoes were safely on their way to Pinehurst No. 2 in caddie Louis Pullen's car.
 
In the week that followed, a Nationwide Tour grinder became the Everyman's sentimental favorite -- this side of John Daly's cigarette -- and a good-guy icon in a sport not lacking class acts.
 
That he fell from grace during one awesomely-bad round doesn't detract from what was a life-changing week for Gore, our selection for Nationwide Tour Player of the Year.
 
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jason Gore
Jason Gore became the first Nationwide Tour player to win three consecutive starts.
Gore didn't win the U.S. Open; in the final group on Sunday, he and Retief Goosen folded to the cruel nature that is challenging for the title at a major championship which has turned away its fare share of challengers.
 
What Gore managed to accomplish, despite his 14-over-par 84 on Sunday, was to establish the public persona of a man who could play that poorly on the biggest day of his professional career and respond casually with a phrase like, 'That's golf.'
 
After tying for 49th place at the Open, Gore went on to win three consecutive starts on the Nationwide Tour to earn a battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour.
 
During a stretch of spectacular golf that began with a win at the Pete Dye Classic and ended with a playoff victory at the Cox Classic, Gore cemented his place as the circuit's No. 1 draw and its toughest competitor.
 
He played just 12 events on the Nationwide Tour in 2005, but finished second on the money list with $356,579 and was one of just a few dozen golfers with at least four top-10 finishes (most of the others played in at least 20 tournaments).
 
Along the way Gore became bigger than the tour, which garnered top headlines only when he did something special, like shoot a 59 in the second round of the Cox Classic.
 
Which segues nicely into...
 
TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR
If you're looking for a surprise, Google a picture of the goblin shark. That a creature this grotesque actually exists is proof that unexpected things can and do occur on this blue and green marble we call home.
 
Okay, so that was a little out there.
 
But it should come as no surprise that our choice for Tournament of the Year is the one which sent Gore to the PGA Tour for good -- at least for now.
 
Gore shot a 59 in the second round of the Cox Classic, becoming only the third player on the Nationwide Tour to reach the magical number after Notah Begay III and Doug Dunakey. His reaction?
 
'That was pretty cool, wasn't it?'
 
It was -- to the tune of nine birdies, two eagles and just one bogey. But Gore's 12-under-par round wasn't the only highlight of the year's best tournament. He still had a field to beat, as well as a supportive gallery to vindicate.
 
And as the event stretched into the Omaha dusk on Sunday, Gore found himself neck-and-neck with Roger Tambellini for the lead. The two went to a second playoff hole, where Gore rolled in a five-foot birdie putt for the win.
 
His reaction?
 
'It's pretty cool, pretty cool.'
 
SHOT OF THE YEAR
Gore was 10 under par with the driveable par-4 ninth to play during his second round of the Cox Classic. It was his final hole of the day, and he needed an eagle for the magical 59.
 
In keeping with fate's doggish determination to make him a star, Gore knocked his drive within 20 feet and rolled in the putt for his 59 and the most important shot of the year.
 
'It was a good day,' Gore said after he improved 12 shots over his even-par first round. 'I was trying to get a decent round in after playing so shabby yesterday. I thought, 'This is cool stuff.''
 
Gore made a handful of other great shots during the Cox Classic, including a couple late on Sunday when it looked like -- looked like -- he might fold the same way he did at Pinehurst. But a 20-foot eagle putt for 59 is hard to beat, isn't it?
 
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Steven Bowditch had a record-setting rookie year on the Nationwide Tour and ended fourth on the money list ($333,329) to earn his PGA Tour card for 2006.
 
The 22-year-old Australian made the cut in 14 of his 21 starts and collected six top-10 finishes. He earned his first career victory at the Jacob's Creek Open Championship in February, becoming the second-youngest winner ever on the Nationwide Tour at 21 years, eight months and 12 days.
 
The following week, Bowditch held the opening-day lead at the ING New Zealand PGA Championship. He fell back after a poor third round, but made a charge on Sunday with a course-record-tying 63 to set up a playoff with Peter O'Malley, which he lost on the fourth hole.
 
But the $64,800 paycheck for second place pushed Bowditch past the $200,000 mark faster than any player in Nationwide Tour history.
 
GOOD YEAR
If not for Jason Gore's surprising rise to golf stardom -- and the numerous stories it provided -- Troy Matteson would be the Nationwide Tour Player of the Year.
 
Matteson won twice and ended as the leading money winner with $495,009, which broke the Nationwide Tour record for earnings set by Zach Johnson ($494,882) in 2003.
 
The 26-year-old made the cut in 24 of his 27 starts this season and collected 12 top-10 finishes. His victories came at the Virginia Beach Open in April and the Mark Christopher Charity Classic in September.
 
Chris Couch was the only other player besides Gore and Matteson to win twice this season. On the strength of his victories at the Rheem Classic in May and the LaSalle Bank Open in June, Couch finished third on the money list with $337,205. But he also either missed the cut or withdrew in each of his final five events of the season.
 
BAD YEAR
Pete Jordan was a member of the PGA Tour from 1994-2002. After spending a few years in the early 1990s on the Nationwide Tour, he returned to the circuit two years ago.
 
Jordan had a bad year.
 
In 21 events this season, the veteran made just four cuts and finished no better than a tie for 28th place (at the Northeast Pennsylvania Classic in June). He was disqualified twice -- at the Virginia Beach Open and Knoxville Open -- and finished 192nd on the money list with just $8,200 in earnings.
 
Andy Sanders also had a bad year, earning just $10,708 in 20 events. He missed 14 cuts, including six straight to end the season, and finished no better than a tie for 29th place (at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in May).
 
Related Links:
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x