By Michael Curet, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
Paul Norris, a 49-year-old Texan who once shagged balls for Ben Hogan, tapped in a putt late Monday in a five-way playoff to earn the final spot in this week’s Valero Texas Open -- his first-ever PGA TOUR event.
Also winning a spot through the playoff was PGA TOUR veteran Frank Lickliter. William Osborne, a 26-year-old Fort Worth, Texas native, fired a 6-under 66 to win medalist honors, while former Texas A&M golfer Casey Devoll shot 67 to secure his place in the field.
Both Norris and Lickliter putted for eagle on the first playoff hole after shooting 69 in the qualifier. Lickliter eventually made a 4-footer for birdie, while Norris missed his 20-footer for a 3 and left himself a foot for birdie. Eliminated were Frank Corpening, Robby Ormand and Gabe Reynolds.
Norris arguably faced tougher odds to find his way into the PGA TOUR field than the other three competitors, who either had youth or experience on their sides. A collegiate golfer at Texas Wesleyan, Norris has played in nine Nationwide Tour events, but none since the 2004 Permian Basin Charity Golf Classic. Aside from playing some regional tours, he has spent most of his time teaching golf and currently works at the Golden Bear Golf Center in Fort Worth. .
Lickliter is no stranger to the Monday qualifier, having played in four this year. The two-time winner on the PGA TOUR (2001 Kemper Insurance Open and 2003 Chrysler Classic of Tucson) has two top-10s in the Valero Texas Open, although the tournament was held at a different venue.
Osborne and Devoll will also be making their first TOUR starts in Thursday’s opening round. Devoll, a 34-year-old Arlington, Texas native, has played six events on the Nationwide Tour with a career-best tie for 35th at the 2005 Permian Basin Charity Golf Classic.
The Monday qualifier was held 65 miles north of San Antonio at The Club at Comanche Trace in Kerrville, Texas.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Frank Lickliter II was more than happy to keep playing.
Not only did he have momentum after polishing off a bogey-free 65 when play resumed on Sunday, Lickliter also knew he would finish his fourth round in time to settle down in front the nearest TV set.
"It's going to be a very nice afternoon," said Lickliter, who planned to spend the 30-minute turnaround grabbing a new glove and hitting some balls. "I'm looking forward to getting done and watching the Super Bowl."
First things first, though. Lickliter's 65 propelled him to 12 under, which put him four shots off the lead when he signed his scorecard. Not bad for a man who had to survive a six-man playoff for one of the three Monday qualifying spots.
"I'm hitting it pretty solid and I'm definitely making some putts," said Lickliter, whose last PGA TOUR win came at the 2003 Chrysler Classic of Tucson. "The speed's been pretty good and I've made some nice 20-30 footers."
Due to the quick turnaround, the pairings remained the same for the fourth round. So Lickliter will play again with Rory Sabbatini and Pat Perez, both of whom matched his six birdies and are known to get on hot streaks.
"Yesterday that definitely happened," said Lickliter, who was low man in his group with Andres Romero and Chris DiMarco, shooting 64 in the second round. "Andres started making some birdies and picked everybody up. We just kept making birdies.
"And then, Pat's one of those guys that can make 16 birdies in 18 holes. It's always fun to play with him. Rory's the same way -- he makes a ton of birdies -- and I've kind of been the same way. Fun group."
Another low round on Sunday afternoon, and Lickliter might need to stay around until Monday to see what happens with the leaders. He would be the first Monday qualifier to win a PGA TOUR event since Arjun Atwal at last year's Wyndham Championship.
"We'll see. We'll see," Lickliter said with a smile. "I get to watch the Super Bowl no matter what those guys do." -- Helen Ross