And so it's fitting that the tour swings to the Monterey Peninsula to help decide things. This week's stop is the now inactive Fort Ord military base and the Bayonet Course designed by one of the military's very own. General George McClure laid out the plans for this track back in 1954, and boy, has it withstood time! Years later it ranks as the second most difficult course in all of Northern California.
The Bayonet's rating is 75.6 from the back tees. Compare that to local toughies like Spyglass Hill (75.3) and Poppy Hills (74.6). Just for the record, 2002 U.S. Open venue Bethpage Black sits at 76.5.
'We (the players) were talking and this should be the Tour Championship,' said Arron Olberholser. 'They could hold a U.S. Open here. Tomorrow!'
Olberholser sits at No. 1 on the tour's money list and a good week here would go a long way toward earning the year-long title.
The course is familiar to Olberholser, who hails from California and played the course many times as a teenager. He is also one of three players in the field who, with victory, would earn a tour-titled 'Battlefield Promotion' to the PGA Tour. Fitting that it could happen at a military base.
Cliff Kresge also has two wins, as does Jason Gore. All three realize the importance of a good week and the chance to win the money title which allows a player complete exempt status on the PGA Tour for the following year.
Patrick Moore is also one win shy of the coveted three wins that would move him to the next level, but he is taking this week off.
There is plenty to play for in the next few weeks. Top 15 is the obvious goal, which earns a player PGA Tour privileges for the following year. But top 30 is big as well. It exempts a player into the finals of the PGA Tour's Qualifying Tournament. Those players 31-70 are exempt from the first stage of Q-School and begin the quest to earn a PGA Tour card at second stage.
As you watch this week on the Golf Channel, certainly follow the likes of Olberholser, Gore and Kresge to see if they can do what Chad Campbell did here last year. Campbell made the Bayonet Course the site of his 'Battlefield Promotion.' Campbell then went on to nearly win the PGA Tour's Southern Farm Bureau Classic a few weeks later.
Keep an eye on players hovering around the top 15. Veteran players like Jay Delsing (15th) and Omar Uresti (16th). But also keep tabs on youngsters like Andy Miller (38th) who Monday-qualified his way to victory last week and is trying to make like his Dad Johnny and carve out a Hall of Fame career.
There is no doubt about it. General McClure's course, which was hand-built by soldiers, is the perfect track to help separate the best on this tour from the rest. Par will be tough to come by at week's end and somebody might just make Fort Ord the site of their 'Battlefield Promotion.'
Full coverage of the Monterey Peninsula Classic