You Just Never Know


SEASIDE, Calif. -- Never in my wildest dreams did I think that Roland Thatcher would shoot 5-under par this week at the Bayonet Course. And you'd have had to wake me up out of a cold sweat and slap me around a bit before I'd have believed that the 25-year-old Buy.Com Tour rookie would win the tournament.
But it happened. Both happened.
Roland Thatcher came into the week 112th on the Buy.Com Tour's money list with little chance of making the cut, let alone winning based on his recent escapades on tour. He'd missed six cuts in a row and had only one top-10 finish to his credit. But the Tour is for dreamers, and it's also a tour that makes believers out of those of us who spend much time out here.
A very mild-mannered fellow off the course, Thatcher admittedly is a bit hard on himself on it. I guess if you'd strung together six missed cuts from time to time, you'd become a bit short-circuited now and again, too.
But somehow, the man who plays out of The Woodlands, Texas (near Houston - mustered up a 66 on Thursday and gave only one shot back the rest of the way en route to a two-shot win over two-time Australian Open champion Aaron Baddeley. Baddeley himself is only 21 but is respected as a player who will go on to win major championships before he calls it a career. Thatcher, on the other hand, didn't have much respect.
But he does now. It was a week that saw him make 17 birdies to lead the field and just 12 bogeys. More important than the number of bogeys was the fact that he never made WORSE than a bogey on any of the 72 holes. On the Bayonet course, that's just not right!
With the win Thatcher earned himself $81,000, a spot inside the top 55 which will send him to the Tour Championship in three weeks, and also an exemption into next year's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on the PGA Tour. That in itself is a great bonus, for it shows Thatcher that 112th on the money list really just serves as a number - not a career death sentence. His trip back to the Monterey Peninsula early next year will give him valuable experience and also the up-close-and-personal view of what lies ahead with perseverance.
Congrats Roland, not only on the win which came on the Buy.Com Tour's toughest course and against the strongest this tour had to offer, but also on the slice of heaven that comes with winning on any tour, let alone one which can send you up against the very best this game has to offer. Belief is something every golfer must have. And apparently every doubting member of the media as well.