Lucky No. 21

By Jon LevyMay 24, 2011, 2:19 pm

Editor's note: will be following four mini-tour players – Tim Hegarty, Zack Sucher, Benoit  'Wah' Beisser and Jack Newman – over the course of 2011 in our new feature, 'The Minors.' Check in each week for the players' progress, updates, photos and more.

Momentum is like a drug.

A mythical one, mind you – nothing tangible. But when you get the slightest taste, the slightest inkling you’ve hitched a seat on 'Air Mo,' you want to ride the flight for as long as possible.

That said, Benoit Beisser’s racked up some serious frequent flyer miles.

Maybe it’s his personality. He just goes with it. And goes for it.

But when he feels momentum in his corner he owns it. Twenty rounds of 65 or better in official Gateway Tour starts since 2008 attest this.

Beisser’s 64 a week ago in the final round at McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale, Ariz. was his latest.

He got it going early – birdies on Nos. 1, 2, 4, 7 and 8 to turn at 5 under – and then he steamrolled the start of the back nine with birdies at 10, 11 and 12.

Eight under through 12 holes and even knowing he was playing for second – former PGA Tour member Brian Vranesh went crazy-low (63-68) and built a seven-shot lead through two rounds, 11 over Beisser – Wah had momentum on his side and holes to play.

'I found a little something with my putting after the second round and just went with it,' Beisser explains. 'I had a great session of yoga that night, too, which really loosened me up, so I woke up the next day feeling better than I had in a long time and just kind of had a feeling it was going to be a good day.'

Golf pros might as well be psychics.

A 'feeling' here or there can result in anything from good shot to bad shot, to a win to a missed cut. Which, of course, goes back to the momentum thing.

That usually manifests with bushels of birdies for Beisser. And cash. He’s up to almost $49,000 in earnings on the tour and it’s not even summer yet.

Wah tried to put a finger on what clicked for him at McCormick.

“It’s kind of hard to explain . . . I basically stopped worrying about trying to putt my ball on a specific line to the hole. I decided to treat it more like a chip shot or even a driver, where I set up to hit to a central spot and once I make the stroke, I lose the idea of worrying about where it’s going,' he said.

“I just focused on making a good stroke and then letting everything else go.”

The man’s a sports psychologist’s dream and he doesn’t even know it.

'Process' is the trendy term these days with Tour players and Beisser just explained it to a T. The process at McCormick found him gunning toward a course record until pars on Nos. 13-15 and a three-putt bogey on 16 put a halt to that talk.

“It was just one of those days where you just got me on the greens and I felt like I could make everything,” Beisser explains. 'But then on 16, I was about 20 feet and I got a little too aggressive with it and left myself about a 3 1/2-foot slider, downhill, for par.

“And I hit that just a little too hard, through the break, and all of a sudden I had 4 feet coming back for bogey, which is about the worst thing you want because when you’re playing like that, you don’t want to totally ruin it by making a stupid double . . . bogey is fine but double just completely ruins your day.”

Beisser center-cut his bogey putt – total destruction averted – then two-putted the par-3 17th for par and pounded driver, 5-iron to the winding par-5 18th to 35 feet for eagle.

Two easy putts for his 4 and he finished tied for second at 10 under for the week. Goal reached.

“I was happy with how I played the last hole,” Mr. 64 says. “My goal was to get second and I did, so I was super happy about that.”

This 29-year-old free spirit from Arizona has turned into one of the most consistent players on the Gateway Tour. His $5,166.67 check for sharing second complemented a package deal of five top-5s in his last seven starts.


If Beisser could bottle and sell what he’s got right now he'd find a lot of buyers on any tour, PGA included.

Or maybe he can strut his stuff on the Nationwide Tour, which, after competing in the first Nationwide qualifier of his career, he’s penned a schedule for four or five Monday qualifiers this summer, starting with either the Utah Championship or Cox Classic of Omaha.

Regardless, Beisser's got it right now and he needs to flaunt it.

He proved it again just this Monday.

An aside from an official start on the Gateway Tour, Beisser competed in the tour's one-day California Series sponsorship qualifier in southern California, vying for a fully-paid series membership which was given to the winner of the 55-player event.

He didn't win, but Wah's 6-under 65 scored a T-2, which at least earned one paid-for event of the series' six scheduled tournaments during July and August. 

It also means our happy-go-lucky momentum savant just scored lucky No. 21 – the 21st time he's hit the 65-or-below barrier on the Gateway Tour in the last four years.

Yet now another flight taken, sooner or later Beisser's going to cash in on all these 'Air Mo' miles. Hopefully, with a first-class ticket to the PGA Tour.

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Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

“Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.

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Thomas was asked about that.

“I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

“I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

“It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

“I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

“That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

“Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.

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The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.