LA QUINTA, Calif. – With 35 major championships plus over 700 other local events, there are certainly plenty of opportunities to get your fill of competitive golf on Am Tour during 2014-15 season.
A handful of golfers competing in Nationals this week at PGA West had particularly busy campaigns, and hope their regular play under pressure pays off this week.
The golfer with the most events in the books this season at Nationals is Bobby Riles (pictured above), 45, from Lorton, Va. Riles, in the Hogan Flight this week. He competed in 39 events, including 10 two-day major championships. Among his season highlights was a second place finish at Kiawah Island Championship in March.
This is Riles' third nationals appearance, finishing 111th last year in Scottsdale and 32nd at PGA West in 2013.
"It gets you going," said Riles. "I was talking with [playing partner Derek Johnson], you have the shakes the first couple holes."
Riles as the benefit of playing in two active local tours, the Baltimore and Washington D.C. tours, which afforded him the chance to play at times two local events in one weekend. So it's no coincidence that another one of the top players this season was Michael Doyle, another beltway resident. Doyle competed in 34 events this season. After winning the Battle for the Homestead major championship in the Sarazen flight last October, was moved up to the Hogan flight.
"As you get older, there's not a lot of things we can do to compete," said Doyle, 45. "At the Am Tour, we're playing outstanding courses. We feel like professionals."
Michael Tomaszewski, also in the Hogan flight, is taking advantage of the fact his two twins are grown up enough recently that he can play more golf. He played 34 events this year (one more than his total last season). He made the cross-country trip back to Nationals after having a great first experience in La Quinta.
"I came out two years ago," said Tomaszewski, an Orlando resident. "I thought it was the best place I ever played golf."
Tomaszewski said the last month or so has been some of his best golf of the year, which gives him confidence this week in his return to PGA West. A rough round on the Stadium Course in 2013 derailed his chances at that National tournament with a 2nd round 95. But he rebounded on Dye's design in round one today with an 86, which puts him tied for 44th headed into Round 2. Doyle and Riles both find themselves in the middle of the pack and certainly not out of it.
Chris Goodwin, a Canadian who now resides in Gilbert, Arizona, leads the Hogan flight after a first round 75 on the Stadium Course at PGA West.
Michael Doyle looks on as 2013 National Champion Rafael Rodriguez hits his putt on the Stadium Course at PGA West.