Mark Rolfing and Jimmy Roberts were there, beaming with broad smiles.
It was a moment no fan of our game would miss.
The final pairing of eventual champion Jesper Parnevik and Mark Calcavecchia had not even started its round. No, the roar at the 72nd hole was aimed neither at the Honda Classic victor nor any other star of the PGA Tour. This outpouring of love, support and respect from 5,000 fans was reserved for the star of the week, 16-year-old high school sophomore Ty Tryon.
There was Tom Lehman, a major championship winner, one of the sport's best, stopping on the fringe to join in on the applause. After playing the Honda's final 18 with young Ty, the 41-year-old Lehman would say, 'I'm so impressed.' Weren't we all?
Honda Classics come and go. But this one will be remembered for a long time. The player who made this event so special is barely old enough to drive one of the title sponsor's products.
Last Monday Tryon battled a howling South Florida wind and some 400 tour `wannabes' who were vying for just four open spots in the Honda field. A two-under par 70 put the kid from Lake Highland Prep in Orlando into a PGA tour event and the spotlight. He handled both beautifully.
As Parnevik built a three-stroke, three-round lead with a 54-hole record at the Honda, one caddie joked 'he's on Planet Jesper.' So from what planet does Ty Tryon hail?
The young man has the kind of poise many of us so-called adults can only hope to possess. When he fielded his first interview of the week Wednesday afternoon at the practice range with yours truly, Ty handled the situation like a seasoned veteran. 'Do I look at you or the camera when I talk?'
Are you kidding me?
His mother Georgia was much more nervous when I approached her. My God, I was more nervous.
In the first round Thursday, Ty fired a five-under par 67. At holes 9 and 18, where the largest crowds congregate, he birdied both. The ensuing roars were tingling. The kid sure has a flair for the dramatic.
On Friday, Ty was back at it. Pretending he was out at the TPC at Heron Bay for just another round of golf. The kid got it to nine-under through 13 holes. He was just two shots off the lead. That's right ladies and gentlemen, two shots off the lead!
The largest crowds of the tournament followed him all around the course. NBC's cameras followed his every shot. A 16-year-old, playing in his first PGA Tour event, with a camera crew standing directly behind him on every shot, knowing he's on national television, plays flawless golf for 31 holes and is TWO SHOTS OFF THE LEAD.
'Oh, I wasn't nervous,' Ty told this bewildered reporter. 'I didn't really notice the cameras.' Talk about focused. Where's that planet again?
Tryon did stumble on his final five holes Friday. He hit an 8-iron about 185 yards over the green on the par-3 5th hole (his 14th) and made double bogey.
Wait a second. Did I get that right? An 8-iron 185. 'It was down-wind.'
By the way, Ty weighs about 135 pounds. Again, this begs the planet question.
Tryon would slip back to four-under for the tournament. Still, that was good enough for the teenager to become the second youngest player to ever make a cut in a PGA Tour event. After signing his historic card, Ty was back on live, national TV. It was time for an interview with Rolfing. Mark was smiling more than the kid. Then it was my turn. 'Is this live, too, or is it just tape?' Ty asked me. I worked in Los Angeles for several years, interviewing scores of Hollywood types. Not half of them had the media-savvy of this young man.
On Saturday, Ty fired a two-under 70. But on a day when most everyone else was going really low, the kid went virtually unnoticed. Ho-hum. He only shot 70. Hey, wait a second here folks. A 16-YEAR-OLD SHOT 70 ON THE PGA TOUR. ON SATURDAY!!! Virtually no one bothered to interview Tryon. I know we media folk are jaded, but this was ridiculous.
For the week, Ty averaged 290 yards off the tee. He made 21 birdies, just one fewer than the champion Parnevik. 'I know I've got to learn to make fewer mistakes.' Planet?
On Sunday, the crowds, reporters and cameras were back. Everyone realized how special this week was. How special this 16-year-old is. Not just for his talent and his game, but also for his wonderful attitude and engaging, unassuming personality. So when Ty fired at an impossible pin on that 18th hole (something only a teenager would do) and his ball bounded toward the adjacent hazard, there was a groan of immense dispair. No, not from Ty, from the thousands of grown-ups who were watching.
The kid hit a brilliant pitch from the mud to about 12 feet from the hole. Of course, he drained the putt. 16-years old, ten-under par. Not a bad week off from school.
Next year at the Honda, there will be no Monday qualifying for Ty Tryon. The folks who run this event know a good thing when they see it. They have granted Ty a sponsor's exemption into the tournament.
Centuries ago, when Ponce de Leon came to Florida looking for the Fountain of Youth, he should have stopped at Heron Bay.
What do you think of 16 year-old Ty Tryon's Honda Classic performance?
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Garcia among notables to miss FedExCup playoffs
For the first time in the 12-year history of the FedExCup, the PGA Tour's postseason will proceed without Sergio Garcia.
The former Masters champ has struggled mightily this summer, missing the cut in all four majors, and he entered the Wyndham Championship at No. 131 in the season-long points race with only the top 125 making the playoffs. Six years after winning at Sedgefield Country Club, Garcia again made a run up the leaderboard and was projected to reach No. 122 heading into the final round.
But on an afternoon where Brandt Snedeker shot 65 en route to victory and runner-up Webb Simpson carded a 62, Garcia shot an even-par 70 that included three back-nine bogeys to drop from a tie for eighth into a tie for 24th. As a result, he moved up only three spots to No. 128 in the final regular-season event and will not have a tee time next week at The Northern Trust.
He will remain fully exempt next year by virtue of the five-year exemption he earned with his Masters win last spring.
Garcia was one of 13 players who had made the playoffs every year since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007. Two other members of that select group also saw their streaks end this year, as former world No. 1 Luke Donald has missed most of the season with an injury while Bill Haas finished No. 152 after a T-45 finish at Wyndham.
Other notable players who failed to crack the top 125 include veterans Aaron Baddeley (No. 132), Shane Lowry (No. 140), David Lingmerth (No. 143) and Graeme McDowell (No. 144), all of whom saw multiple-year exemptions for victories in 2015 or 2016 expire this weekend in Greensboro.
Players who finish Nos. 126-200 in the season-long points will have an opportunity to retain their PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season at the Web.com Tour Finals, a four-event series that kicks off next week in Ohio. Players who finished Nos. 126-150 will retain at least conditional PGA Tour status for next year regardless of their Finals performance.
Bryant wins Dick's Sporting Goods Open for second time
ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Bart Bryant made a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Dick's Sporting Goods Open for the second time in six years.
With playing partner Michael Bradley facing a 7-foot birdie putt that he would make, the 55-year-old Bryant rolled in the left-to-right breaking putt for a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke victory.
''It felt good. It really did,'' Bryant said. ''He hit a great shot in there. He went after the pin, which he had to do. ... I gave it a good run. But to make a putt like that to win a tournament, there's a little bit of luck involved and it was just kind of my day. ... I've had putts made on me on 18 to lose before, so it's nice to be on the other end of the stick this time.''
Bradley, the second-round leader, bogeyed the par-4 15th in a 68.
''It was fun. We had a good time,'' Bradley said. ''He shot 65-65 on the weekend, that's tough to beat. But I put a little pressure on, I hit a good shot into 18. He made a hell of a putt.''
Also the 2013 winner at En-Joie Golf Club, Bryant made six birdies in a nine-hole stretch from the third to the 11th and had six straight pars before the winning birdie putt on the par-4 18th.
''I played awfully well, I didn't hit a bad shot today,'' Bryant said. ''I played conservatively, a little bit conservative coming in, but smart. It got the job done. Very pleased with the way everything went.''
Bryant finished at 16-under 200. The three-time PGA Tour winner's only senior victories have come at En-Joie, the site of the PGA Tour's B.C. Open from 1972-2005.
The 52-year-old Bradley is winless on the 50-and-over tour after winning four times on the PGA Tour.
''I played solid, 65-68-68,'' Bradley said. ''I just got beat.''
Tom Gillis (67) and Marco Dawson (68) tied for third at 13 under, a stroke ahead of Paul Goydos (65), Kenny Perry (67) and Mark Calcavecchia (67).
Snedeker goes wire-to-wire for first win since 2016
Even after shooting a 59 in the opening round, Brandt Snedeker had to work to secure his ninth career victory at the Wyndham Championship.
Snedeker led at Sedgefield Country Club the entire week after becoming just the ninth player to break 60 on the PGA Tour, carrying a one-shot lead into the final round. But he was caught down the stretch, first by C.T. Pan and later by Webb Simpson, to leave the outcome very much undecided.
But Simpson ran out of holes, and Pan made a costly mistake by hitting his tee shot on No. 18 out of bounds while holding a share of the lead. It meant that Snedeker needed only bogey to earn his second Wyndham title and first Tour victory since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open, instead opting to sink a 20-foot birdie putt for a closing 65 and three-shot win.
"I guess I'm turning into Bubba Watson, wanting to cry every two seconds," Snedeker told reporters. "To do it here, to shoot 59 on Thursday, to be in the lead all week, to deal with that pressure every night, to be able to step up to the plate today and shoot 65 when I had to means the world to me."
Snedeker struggled with injury for much of last season, and this spring he missed the Masters for the first time since 2010 while toiling near the edge of the top-125 bubble in the points race. But the veteran turned things around with a T-6 finish in Memphis in June, added a T-3 finish last month at The Greenbrier and now has come full circle in the city where he earned his first career win at nearby Forest Oaks in 2007.
"I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was," Snedeker said. "I've still got a lot of great golf in me. I'm excited about the FedExCup playoffs. I've done this before, I've won that thing, and I can't wait to try to make a run to Atlanta in the playoffs because I'm playing great."
It was a bittersweet result for Pan, who had his wife on the bag this week and briefly appeared poised for a breakthrough victory. The former University of Washington standout made six birdies in a 12-hole stretch in the middle of his round to catch Snedeker, but his drive on No. 18 sailed well right. It led to a double bogey, and at 18 under he ended the week tied for second with Simpson.
The result was still Pan's best of his young PGA Tour career, having started the week at No. 108 in the points race despite not having a single top-10 finish this season.
"Just had a little noise in my head and it caused me to hit a bad shot," Pan said. "But overall I feel good about the whole round. I played great. Just one bad shot, but that's OK."
Taylor crashes playoffs with closing 63 at Wyndham
Nick Taylor picked a good time to shoot his best round of the season.
Taylor was the big mover in the standings during the final regular season event, shooting a final-round 63 at the Wyndham Championship to grab a share of eighth place. The result moved the Canadian from No. 129 to No. 121 in the season-long points race, ensuring a spot in The Northern Trust next week and fully-exempt status for the 2018-19 season.
"You try to block it all out when you're playing. I tried not to look at any leaderboards today, especially the second 18," Taylor told reporters. "When I got my PGA Tour card the first time I shot a 63 in the final round ironically of the Web.com Finals. So I tried to draw back on that, and it worked today."
Taylor earned his lone PGA Tour win at the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship, and he dug himself an early hole Sunday morning with a triple bogey on No. 14 while completing his rain-delayed third round. But he made four straight birdies on Nos. 2-5 in the final round, added an eagle on No. 15 and birdied the 72nd hole to retain his card with room to spare.
"It was a long day, obviously," Taylor said. "It was a lot of sleepless nights. Last night I didn't sleep that great."
Taylor was one of two players who moved inside the top-125 bubble in the final round of the regular season. Harris English started the week at No. 132, but a T-11 finish allowed him to eke in at No. 124 with no room to spare. English shot a final-round 68 that included a two-putt par from 60 feet on No. 18 when a bogey would have sent the veteran to Web.com Tour Finals.
"It's one of the more nerve-wracking feelings I've had in a long time," English said. "It's a way different feeling than trying to win a tournament. I'm glad it's over."
With Taylor and English moving into the top 125, two players saw their seasons come to an end after missing the cut at Sedgefield Country Club. Martin Piller fell from 124th to 126th and was the man edged out by English's closing par, while Tyrone Van Aswegen dropped two spots from No. 125 to No. 127.
Ireland's Seamus Power, who also missed the cut in Greensboro, finished the season at No. 125 with 377 points, six ahead of Piller.
All players who finished the season Nos. 126-200 on the points list will have a chance to earn one of 25 PGA Tour cards available at the four-event Finals, while Nos. 126-150 will retain conditional PGA Tour status for next season.