It wasnt supposed to be this way.
That statement alone pretty much lays a blanket over Jason Gores 2005 season. His entire career, in fact.
Gore was a struggling professional. It wasnt supposed to be that way. He was an accomplished amateur who appeared to have all the tools necessary to be a successful pro.
He contemplated quitting the game in order to better provide for his wife and newborn son. It wasnt supposed to be like this. Being a golfer ' a player ' is what he was supposed to be.
It just wasnt supposed to be this hard for Jason Gore. But it had been this way ever since the day he turned professional ' the day his father died suddenly of a heart attack.
By the time this year's U.S. Open rolled around, he was a has-been, a never-was, a 31-year-old who had started the year playing something called the A.G. Spanos Tour in his native California and had to take a $12,000 loan just to keep his dream alive.
When youre not seeing what you think you should be seeing and nothing is really paying off, maybe you can stop and look in the mirror and say, This just isnt for me, Gore said. I think the low point was probably five or six weeks before the Open and thinking, This probably isnt going to work out. I was struggling. I was whining and complaining and just not doing what I had to do.
Its hard to sit there and face up to yourself and say, Hey, listen, nobody owes you anything. You have to go out and make your own destiny.
He eventually did that. But not before life got in one more sucker punch.
On his way to Pinehurst, vandals broke into his SUV. They stole just about everything they could get their criminal hands on, except his golf clubs, which were with his caddie, and his perspective.
Nobody was hurt. I still had my wife and family, and thats what it comes down to. It was just a car, he said.
Thats really kind of what it was, and thats the way I started looking at golf. Its just golf; its just a game.
What transpired that week in the quaint North Carolina golfing destination, however, was more than just golf, more than just a game. It was a life-changing experience.
After two rounds, Gore was tied atop the leaderboard at 2 under. He hung in with a 2-over 72 on Saturday to keep him within three strokes of the lead entering the final round. He made birdie on the final hole to secure a spot in the final twosome alongside defending champion Retief Goosen.
When I made that putt I kind of pointed at it, a la Tiger, Gore recalled. I looked at my caddie afterward and said, Did I just point the ball into the hole? And he said, Yeah, you did. And I said, What a cheese ball.
Yeah, but the public ate up that cheese ball. They loved the big man. The 61, 235-pound teddy bear with the collar buttoned to the top and the huge, omnipresent smile.
And when he shot 84 on Sunday to finish tied for 49th, they gave him a standing ovation. He had not only entertained them, but impressed them ' and endeared himself to them.
This was not expected: three straight wins almost immediately upon his return to the Nationwide Tour; a round of 59; a promotion back to the PGA Tour; a victory in the 84 Lumber Classic; his picture on magazine covers; guest spots on national talk shows; over $1 million in just three months.
He could now pay back his loan ' with interest, buy a new truck, even get his son a sweet swing set for his first birthday.
And he could do what he wanted to do most of all: play golf for a living, and enjoy doing so.
I think Im happy with everything thats happened, but Im not satisfied. Its one of those things you have to keep working hard to try and get better. Thats what Im trying to do, said the man who sports a wristband that reads: Never Give Up.
Its actually made me a lot hungrier.
Complacency will not hinder Gore, and he doesnt have to dig that far back in his memory bank to find every reason why.
Around May I was going to the store and was wondering if I was going to be able to get formula for my child, wondering if I was going to be able to afford it and wondering if I was going to make a house payment, he said after winning his first PGA Tour event. And now look.
To know that just five, six months ago I was thinking about hanging it up It's amazing where a little perseverance and grit and maybe a little ignorance can take you.
Now this is the way its supposed to be.