Feeling Green


Scott Hoch entered last years Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic with a scowl and left with a smile.
Hoch, who complained to tournament officials that the rough wasnt high enough at the Forest Oaks Country Club, bested Brett Quigley and Scott Simpson by a single stroke to earn his first PGA Tour title since 1997.
The then 45-year-old snapped his 94-tournament winless streak by shooting a final-round 69 to finish the event at 16-under 272.
Hoch employed Payne Stewarts former caddie, Mike Hicks, on his bag, and said he felt inspiration from his old friend, who perished in a plane crash in 1999.
I just told him to try to help us get through the day and I really felt he was out there today, said Hoch. I just started thinking about it when I got a little down and then something just turned me around. I cant say what it wasI just felt kind of a calmness.
Hoch was perturbed when he arrived in Greensboro, N.C., down the road from where he went to school, Wake Forest University. He felt the rough was three inches shorter than in past years.
A late committal, Hoch said he would have stayed at home had he known how close the grass had been cut.
The rough (on tour) this year has been less than in almost any other year I can remember, other than a drought, Hoch said prior to the start of last years event. Its a joke.
Hoch was the last man laughing come Sunday. He started the final round slowly, netting six straight pars before his first birdie on No. 7 after sticking his approach shot to three feet.
Upon making the turn, Hoch birdied three of his first five holes to take control of the tournament, and eventually capture the largest winners check of his career, $630,000.
Hoch led by one shot as the final round began. It marked the third consecutive year that the 54-hole front-runner held on to win, something that was quite rare most of the 1990s.
In 90, Steve Elkington overcame a seven-shot final-round deficit to capture his first of 10 career tour titles. The next year, Mark Brooks shot 64 on Sunday to erase a seven-shot deficit of his own.
Davis Love III fired a Sunday 62 to come from three back in 1992. In 93, Rocco Mediate turned the tables on Elkington, coming from four back to win in a playoff.
Jim Gallagher, Jr., also wiped out a seven-shot deficit en route to winning in 95. And Frank Nobilo and Trevor Dodds each collected their first tour wins by mounting Sunday charges in 97 and 98, respectively. Both men eventually prevailed in playoffs.
This is the 63rd playing of the event. Sam Snead won the inaugural tournament in 1938. It was the first of eight Greensboro victories in his career.
The last came in 1965. That win made Snead the oldest man at 52 years, 10 months and eight days to win on the PGA Tour.
In his 42-year PGA Tour career, Snead won 81 times ' more than any other player in history. His total career earnings were just over $620,000. This weeks winner will once again collect $630,000.
Full field for the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic