SAN ANTONIO – Forty-four pounds lighter, his shoulder healthy, Jason Gore finds himself once again on the first page of the leaderboard, this time at the Valero Texas Open.
Gore is coming off back-to-back top 20s on the Web.com Tour, but two weeks ago in Louisiana, he hit five balls in the hazard, another out of bounds, and only shot 1 over par for those nine holes. Strangely, it was then that he realized that, yes, he could still get the ball in the hole. Somehow.
Making only his second start on the PGA Tour, he battled blustery conditions to post a 3-under 69 Thursday and sit one shot off the lead at TPC San Antonio.
“I’ve been working really hard,” said Gore, who is playing this week on a sponsor exemption. “It’s really the first time in a couple of years that I’ve actually put my whole mind into being a professional golfer again. I kind of had thoughts of walking away and doing something else. Since that didn’t really pan out, I just decided to get back to having fun and working hard. Like, actually working hard – not just wasting time standing there and stuff like that.”
Physically, Gore says he’s as healthy as he’s ever been, though mentally, he said, he is “always suspect.”
Gore, now 37, experienced a modicum of fame while playing in the final group at the 2005 U.S. Open. (Memorably, he self-immolated during a final-round 84, but smiled all the way to the scoring tent.) He hasn’t played a full schedule on the PGA Tour since 2009, and two years ago underwent shoulder surgery to address a nagging issue.
As for his outlook, Gore maintains a cheery attitude, even though success has been scarce.
“The dogs still love me; the wife still loves me; my kids still love me. I’m in a very happy place. I’m very content with things,” he said. “I get to play golf for a living. How much more lucky can I get?”