By Michael Curet, PGATOUR.COM Contributing Writer
Doug LaBelle II and Mark Hubbard shared medalist honors with a 5-under 67 while Jason Gore and Jim Renner both fired rounds 4-under 68 in the Frys.com Open Monday qualifier held at the Bayonet and Black Horse course in Seaside, Calif.
LaBelle, a 38-year-old Scottsdale resident, played 23 events on the PGA TOUR in 2013 and made 14 cuts -- including a tie for 18th at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He earned his way onto the PGA TOUR after finishing inside The 25 (24th) on the Web.com Tour in 2012.
Hubbard, a 24-year-old native of San Jose, Calif., qualified for the Web.com Tour in 2014 after finishing inside the top five on PGA TOUR Canada in 2013. He won The Wildfire Invitational presented by PC Financial.
The 39-year-old Gore, also a Californian, enters Thursday's Frys.com Open opening round with the most credentials among the qualifiers -- having won once on the PGA TOUR (2005 84 Lumber Classic) and seven times on the Web.com Tour. His win on TOUR in 2005 and three times on the Web.com Tour that year catapulted him from No. 668 to No. 88 in the Official World Golf Ranking by year's end.
Renner, a 30-year-old Bostonian, returns to the 2013-14 PGA TOUR after finishing 17th in the Regular Season money list on Web.com Tour this past season. The Johnson and Wales grad had four top tens on Web.com Tour in 2013. In his rookie PGA TOUR season in 2011, he tied for fourth at the Sanderson Farms Championship and finished fifth at the Reno Tahoe Open.
By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN ANTONIO -- Jason Gore has fought the battle of the bulge and now says he’s happy with his weight, even if he still cracks 200 pounds.
He has to be happy if he can talk about his features and still stretch a wide smile.
“I like this stuff,” a reporter told Gore, pointing to his stubbly jowls after he walked off the AT&T Oaks Course with a 3-under-par 69 in Thursday’s first round of the Valero Texas Open.
“It hides my chin,” Gore responded, smiling.
“Which chin?,” another bit of kidding came.
“All of them.”
He’s lost 44 pounds in the last year and has kept it off, but Thursday's round is more testament that Gore hasn’t lost his game, even if it has been a long time since he played in the final group of the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst and won the 84 LUMBER Classic that year.
He missed his first two cuts this year in South America on the Web.com Tour and did the same at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with scores of 71-72-73.
But he made his latest two cuts on the Web.com Tour and is in contention at TPC San Antonio, where he received a sponsor's exemption, this time without the help of the Twitter campaign that landed him at Riviera last year.
Gore made four birdies and missed just four greens. Even when he did miss, he still got up-and-down. His only bogey came courtesy of a three-putt when he yanked his tee shot to the other side of the green on the bunker-in-the-middle par-3 16th.
Thinking of giving up golf through the past year, Gore has found himself through a testy time at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in his last start in late March.
“It really didn’t hit me that I was still good at this game until I absolutely hit it like a 14-handicap, maybe not even that good,” Gore said. “The back nine on Saturday I hit five balls in the hazard, one out of bounds, and I think I shot 1-over-par on those nine holes. Sometimes playing bad and making a good score out of it makes you realize you’re still good.”
There was no bad play for Gore on Thursday.
Two longtime friends will meet at Riviera after both received an exemption into the Northern Trust Open.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Jason Gore was prepared for the question.
And as much as Gore would like to say he had it all planned, the Twitter campaign that contributed to him getting a sponsor's exemption for this week's Northern Trust Open was a "pure accident.
“I wish I could tell you I set the bar and was smart enough to figure all this stuff out,” Gore said. “But that's far from the truth.”
The wheels were set in motion as Gore sat in his hotel room in Honolulu watching an NFL playoff game -- "they come on at like 3 a.m.," he said with a grin -- on the Sunday prior the the Sony Open in Hawaii. A Monday qualifying round loomed large in the Californian's future.
"I got the computer in front of me, and I go, oh, I probably need to sign up for Monday qualifying at Northern Trust, so I did it," Gore said. "I kind of asked (my wife), do you think I should just tweet that I just signed up and say how stoked I'd be to get a sponsor's invite? And she goes, ‘why not?; So all I was really trying to do was get in Northern Trust's ear.
"I didn't know if it was some 15-year-old girl running the Twitter account for the tournament. ... I was just trying to let somebody know that, hey, I'm thinking about you, and you have no idea how excited I'd be to get a spot and basically how crappy Monday qualifying is."
Turns out, the tweet took on a life of its own. Friends and fans like Eric Magidson and Paul Regali, who played golf at Oregon, began to tweet @NTrustOpen on Gore's behalf -- and encouraged others to do the same. Gore called the support "incredible" but stopped short of more campaigning.
"I didn't go out there and say, hey, everybody vote for me -- a Gore has already lost an election," he said, laughing.
Several weeks later, Gore got the call he had hoped for from the tournament he considers his major. Even so, the affable Californian, who has one PGA TOUR title under his belt but lost his card four years ago, couldn't resist having a little fun.
"When they called me and said, ‘This is not about the Twitter campaign, this is on your merits,’ and I said, ‘I don't really care to be honest with you,’ and he goes, ‘We'd like to extend you the sponsor's invite to the Northern Trust Open,’ and I said, ‘no, I'm busy,'" Gore recalled.
Gore even went so far as to say he wanted to play in the Nationwide Tour season-opener in Bogota, Colombia this week. “He's like, really? I'm like, "no, absolutely not. I'd be honored to play,'" Gore recalled with a smile.
The SoCal native is staying at home this week and commuting the 30 miles or so each day. He knows it will be hard to focus with so many friends and family in the gallery but it's "back to work time," Gore said, as he plays in his first event of 2012.
"I've had a hard few couple years, had shoulder surgery last year, but yeah, this is my major," Gore said. "This is where I came out to watch golf when I was a kid. I didn't start until I was 12 years old, so I kind of knew what golf was, and I took it pretty serious. I wasn't like a 6-year-old kid that was like, oh, big hill, I want to roll down it. I enjoyed coming out here with my dad, and now that my dad has been gone for 14 years, it brings back good memories of we talked about this shot here and this shot here.
"... It's at probably my favorite golf course to play, and it's just a special week. ... I can't tell you how excited I am to be here."
PGATOUR.COM will be streaming interviews live from the media center at Riviera.
Tuesday, Feb. 14
Sergio Garcia - 3:30 p.m. ET
Kyle Stanley - 6 p.m. ET
Ernie Els - 7 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Feb. 15
Fred Couples - 12:30 p.m. ET
Phil Mickelson - 12:45 p.m. ET
Patrick Cantlay - 1 p.m. ET
Andy Walker and Jason Gore - 2 p.m. ET
Luke Donald - 3 p.m. ET
Adam Scott - 3:30 p.m. ET
Aaron Baddeley - 5:30 p.m. ET
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
In a precedent-setting move, Jason Gore was granted a sponsor’s exemption into the Northern Trust Open on Thursday after seeking a spot in the field via Twitter.
“They called me and said I just want you to know exemptions aren’t based on Twitter, they’re based on merit and the kind of person you are and for that reason we’re going to grant you the exemption,” Gore, a native of Southern California, said via cell phone. “It means a lot to me. This one is my major.”
Earlier in the week, Gore tweeted, “Just signed up for the
@ ntrustopen qualifier, but you have NO IDEA how stoked I'd
be to get a sponsors invitation!
The tweet set off a firestorm with several of Gore’s followers on the social-networking site, including Pat Perez, Geoff Ogilvy and Christina Kim, re-tweeting it.
“I didn’t mean for that to happen,” Gore said via cell phone. “I just wanted to put it in the [tournament’s] ear. I just tried to stay as far back out of it as I could because I didn’t want to be that guy begging for a spot.
“It was amazing. I can’t even describe it. It took on a life of its own.”
When it did, the tournament was happy to extend an invite to the 37-year-old.
“Jason’s record and his strong local ties to Southern California put him on Northern Trust Corporation’s short list for a sponsor’s exemption since last year,” said the tournament’s executive director Jerry West. “We are all pleased to see that his many fans on Twitter agreed that he is deserving of this exemption. We look forward to seeing all of Jason’s fans, which we are dubbing Gore’s Gallery, at the tournament next month at Riviera.”
For Gore it’s an opportunity to play in the tournament for a seventh time in his career. His best finish there was a tie for 14th in 2008.
“You never know with these invites,” said Gore, who grew up in nearby Valenica, a suburb of Los Angeles. “I called [tournament general manager] Mike Bone and said ‘Dude, I’m so sorry.’”
Gore didn’t need to apologize, however. The tournament was thrilled over the buzz it generated. So was Gore.
“I’ve been working hard,” said Gore, who added that he’s lost 42 pounds in the last year. “My shoulder feels great, mentally I’m healthy, my home life couldn’t be better.
“I started eating better after my doctor told me I was a borderline diabetic. My dad died of a heart attack because of his diabetes. I want to be around to watch my kids grow up.”
Gore hasn’t played on the PGA TOUR full-time since 2009 and just missed getting a card in by a stroke at q-school, where he tied for 30th in December. He’ll play this season under past champion status.
Gore’s lone win on TOUR came at the 2005 84 LUMBER Classic. Last year, he made six starts on TOUR and another 10 on the Nationwide Tour, where he had one top-25 finish.
What started out as an "innocent hint hint" -- at least, that's what Jason Gore thought -- has taken on a life of its own in the Twitter world.
On Sunday, Gore tweeted that he had just signed up for the Northern Trust Open's Monday qualifier. But the SoCal native added that he'd be "stoked" to get a sponsor's invitation into the event at Riviera Country Club that he considers his personal major.
Before he knew it, fans -- including LPGA star Christina Kim -- were tweeting their support. In the last four days, there have been 311 tweets that mentioned @JasonGore59 and 352 @NTrustOpen compared with 15 and seven, respectively in the previous seven days.
Here's how things unfolded in Gore's world.
@JasonGore59 on Jan. 8
Just signed up for the @ntrustopen qualifier, but you have NO IDEA how stoked I'd be to get a sponsors invitation! #myhometown #mymajor
@JasonGore59 on Jan. 8
“@ghostofhogan: ok followers let's see if we can help get Jason a sponsors invite. Tweet NTrustOpen that u want Gore in the field!!” love it
@JasonGore59 on Jan. 10
Thank you everyone for your support!! @ntrustopen @ericmagidson What I thought would be an innocent "hint hint" has turned awesome!@
Hey everyone! Thanks again for all your support. Whether I'm in the field or not, please go out and support @NTrustOpen #TheyAreGoodSports
Here are a couple of Christina Kim's tweets on the subject.
@TheChristinaKim Christina Kim on Jan. 10
“@GolfChannel: Would you like to see the @NTrustOpen extend a 2012 invite to @JasonGore59? @thechristinakim does. #NTO4GORE” I do, I do!
@TheChristinaKim Christina Kim on Jan. 9
Please RT if you think @JasonGore59 should get an invite into the @ntrustopen this year. I sure as Hell do! Let's start a petition of RTs!!!
Each Monday, PGATOUR.COM posts its Top Photos of the Week photo gallery, as we sift through all the images we’ve seen the previous few days, picking out our favorite or most topical ones. Once we post the gallery, we’ll select one of those photos each week for you to supply your own photo caption.
This week’s photo, from our own Stan Badz, showed a fun moment from the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX. Nationwide Tour player Jason Gore took on the role of Golf Channel sound man, following celebrity player Greg Kinnear. Fill out the comment form below and give us your most creative caption (and please, let’s play nice).
It’s overcast and showers are expected this afternoon in Greensboro. But with any luck, the lightning will stay away and the 71st Wyndham Championship will be delay-free.
As has been the case every day this week, there appear to be low rounds to be had at Sedgefield Country Club on Sunday. John Daly’s 64 is the low round of the day so far – although Kirk Triplett is also 6 under through 17 holes. And Jason Gore joined Daly at 11 under when he posted a 65.
Fredrik Jacobson is working on his fourth round in the 60s – he’s 6 under through 15 holes and 13 under for the tournament. Webb Simpson, who went to school at nearby Wake Forest – has just made the turn in 31 and also stands 13 under. – Helen Ross
Jason Gore is staying with a Sedgefield Country Club member this week while he plays in the Wyndham Championship. And not just any member, either.
Gore's host is Kevin Harvick, the current Sprint Cup points leader who won the NASCAR race in Michigan last week. The two played together in Monday's Kevin Harvick Foundation pro-am at Sedgefield – which also featured NASCAR drivers Scott Speed and Denny Hamlin and UNC basketball coach Roy Williams.
Gore and Harvick watched the truck race on TV Wednesday night -- but it looks like Thursday's dinner conversation will be about golf. After all, Gore fired a bogey-free 65 that left him three shots off the lead.
The two met earlier this year. Gore's son Jaxson is a big NASCAR fan and Havrick is his favorite driver. When Gore received a sponsor's exemption into the Shell Houston Open earlier this year, he attended a dinner where Harvick, who drives the Shell car, was among the guests.
"I said to my wife, 'Should I get his autograph for Jaxson?' (She said,) 'Absolutely,'" Gore said. "I walked over, kind of, a little slowly and not very easily and started talking. 'My son is a huge fan.'"
Turns out, the two had a lot in common. Both are Californians and Harvick, who also has a home in Kernersville, N.C., was holding his first pro-am to benefit his foundation the following Wednesday.
"I said, 'Well, barring any sudden getting into Augusta, I'll be home,'" Gore recalled. "I said, 'Well, if you need any help let me know.'"
Harvick did, and Gore went up to Bakersfield to play in the pro-am. Then he asked Gore if he had ever been to a NASCAR race and invited him to one in Phoenix that weekend.
"'Okay, I'll go,'" Gore remembered, "thinking now I got to get on Southwest. He said, 'I'll send my plane out to pick you and your family up to bring you out to Phoenix and come watch the race and we'll turn around and take you home.'
"Good friend to have."
Gore, who came into the Wyndham Championship ranked 213th in the FedExCup, joked that he has a "mild bro-mance" going on with Harvick. He called Thursday's round his most "complete" of the year that has seen him split time on the PGA TOUR and Nationwide Tour.
"I just want to play well again," said Gore, who won the 2005 84 LUMBER Classic. "I just want to do what I'm supposed to do, be committed to every shot. I am kind of right now in no-man's land. Whatever positive I can get right now I will take -- whether it's going back to the Nationwide Tour or whether it's coming out here and just seeing a couple of putts fall.
"I'm just taking it one shot at a time and we'll just see what happens. I'm not doing very well on the Nationwide Tour but I know out there it can turn around in a heartbeat and it can out here too. I am trying to treat every tournament like it's my last one."
Gore is not alone in that approach at the Wyndham Championship as players battle to get into the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup -- and improve their position on the money list.
"These are the fun events when you get guys fighting for their lives," Gore said. "Every one of us want a job next year. It's tough. we're all out here battling. It's tough to look in the mirror and say, 'Holy crap -- what have you gotten into?'"
"These are guys who are out there fighting hard and these are probably some of the toughest tournaments to win." – Helen Ross
Jason Gore birdied his final hole on Sunday to finish off a round of 73 and make the cut at the 110th U.S. Open.
The only thing cooler would have been if that birdie had come on the 18th hole rather than the ninth. The affable man from Southern California and his wife Megan were married several years ago in a ceremony on Pebble Beach’s signature hole.
Gore was one of the lucky 83 who survived the cut which came at 7 over. A total of 25 players were tied on the magic number which is 10 strokes off the pace being set by Graeme McDowell.
Y.E. Yang was among those who weren’t so lucky. He was 1 over for the tournament through 27 holes but made five bogeys, two triple bogeys and a double bogey on the way to a closing 49.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, who tied for second, 15 strokes behind Tiger Woods when he won the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, was also among those making an early exit. Former Masters champ Trevor Immelman also fell one shot shy, as did the 2006 U.S. Open champ Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott, who still improved by eight and four shots, respectively, in the second round.
Rory McIlroy, who won his first PGA TOUR event last month at the Quail Hollow Championship, didn’t give himself a shot – shooting 10 over. Ben Crane, who won in San Diego earlier this year and had finished 12th or better in his last four starts, also missed the cut.
Champions Tour vets Tom Lehman and David Frost were among the other early departures. Lehman had beaten Frost and Fred Couples in the Senior PGA Championship two weeks ago. – Helen Ross