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Tryon Has High Hopes for Tucson

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Ty Tryon has gone from teenage golf sensation to just another struggling pro on the PGA Tour, even though he's still a few months shy of his high school graduation.
 
Life in the big-time has not been easy for the 18-year-old golfer, and he hopes the relatively low-key atmosphere of the Chrysler Classic of Tucson, which begins a four-day run on Thursday, helps him turn his game around.
 
For the past three years, and 12 times in the event's history, the tournament formerly known as the Tucson Open has provided a golfer with his first PGA Tour triumph.
 
With most of golf's big names playing in the Match Play Championship this week, the opportunity is ripe for someone else to break through on the par-72, 7,109-yard course at the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort and Spa.
 
``The course is really set up good for longer hitters, like young players,'' Tryon said Wednesday, ``because a lot of par 5s are reachable. I love the course a lot. It surprised me. It's not what I thought it would be. I thought it would be like a desert course.''
 
Tryon has a medical exemption for 21 PGA events this year after he sat out most of last year with mononucleosis. He has missed the cut in the three tournaments he's played this year. The worst was his latest, the Pebble Beach National Pro-AM on the first week in February, when he was 21-over-par 237 through three rounds.
 
``I don't want to talk about it,'' he said. ``It was a bad experience.''
 
Tryon said the mechanics of his game are far better than they were when in 2001, at 17, he became the youngest player ever to win a PGA Tour card.
 
``But I think my middle game, my emotional game, mental game, haven't been very good the last few tournaments,'' he said. ``A few tournaments this year, I just didn't handle myself that well. Like I missed shots, stupid plays, stuff you shouldn't be doing. That's the problem, I think, junior golfer or amateur golfer type stuff.''
 
Tyron has finished in the money only once in a PGA event, earning $8,620 when he tied for 41st at the Tampa Bay Classic last year. He must top $515,445 in tour earnings in his medical exemption events to qualify for the remainder of this year's PGA Tour.
 
The winner in Tucson earns $540,000.
 
``You play a good week and you've got it,'' Tryon said.
 
His father Bill is with him this week, but Tryon is trying to keep his entourage to a minimum to concentrate on his game.
 
``That's my goal, to just play good golf,'' he said.
 
Rain softened the course Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and unless the wind starts blowing and hardens the greens, scores should be low. Ian Leggatt won last year with a 72-hole score of 20-under 268.
 
``It's a golf course you can really pick apart when the wind's not blowing,'' said Arron Oberholser, a 28-year-old tour rookie who last played on the course in 1994 when he was a freshman at San Jose State.
 
Oberholser, 39th on the tour earnings list this year, finished tied for fourth at the Buick Invitational two weeks ago.
 
``It was awesome,'' he said. ``If it wasn't for a balky putter on the weekend, I could have contended there. I don't know if I would have won. I don't know if I would have beaten Tiger, but I think I could have come real close. I hit 27 greens on the weekend, and I shot 1-under.''
 
While there is no Woods or Mickelson in Tucson, the competition will be fierce, Oberholser said.
 
``There are no weak fields on the PGA Tour,'' he said. ``I can assure you that everybody out here, if given the opportunity, would do just fine at the match play.''