By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Michael Putnam is happy to be back on the golf course so quickly. This isn't exactly an ideal time of year for a PGA TOUR player to spend a lot of time in the Pacific Northwest. Putnam, who lives in Washington state, shot 4-under 67 on Thursday at the Frys.com Open
There was only one off week between the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship and the Frys.com Open, the first event of the 2013-14 PGA TOUR season. Putnam won the Web.com Tour's Regular Season money title to regain his PGA TOUR playing privileges.
“Typcially you have two months off when you get your TOUR card (through the Web.com Tour), and for me that’s probably not too good because I live up in Washington and I take time off and then I’m trying to find (my game) at Sony or (the Humana),” Putnam said. “Now we get to go straight into the year.”
Putnam won his two Web.com Tour titles of 2013 in consecutive weeks in May. He had eight top-10s in 19 starts in the Regular Season to win the money title, which also earned him a spot in the 2014 THE PLAYERS Championship.
“I’m 30 now. I’m older, wiser, more calm. Life has sort of settled down. I have two kids,” Putnam said, when asked what has changed since his last full PGA TOUR season in 2011. “I proved myself on the Web.com Tour. I played a lot of good tournaments and I felt like my game could easily translate on the PG ATOUR with the year I had.”
Putnam played Thursday alongside fellow Web.com Tour grads John Peterson and Chesson Hadley. Peterson was the leading money winner in the Web.com Tour Finals, while Hadley won the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship and earned the most combined money in the Regular Season and Finals.
Peterson, who finished in the top five in his final five events of the 2013 Web.com Tour season, shot 68 on Thursday despite bogeys on his final two holes. He bogeyed his final hole, the reachable par-5 ninth, after hitting his second shot in the water. Hadley shot 72. Both Peterson and Hadley are making their debuts as PGA TOUR members.
Jim Herman matched Putnam for low Web.com Tour graduate on Thursday, shooting 4-under 67.
Two of the Web.com Tour's top players, Michael Putnam (left) and John Peterson, engaged in a closest-to-the-pin contest on the island-green par-3 at the World Golf Hall of Fame. There was a unique twist, though. They had to skip their shots across the water. See who came out on top.
By Michael Curet, PGATOUR.com Contributor
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla -- Longtime David Toms caddie Scott Gneiser is switching to a new Tiger.
After carrying the bag for 15 years for Toms, a former LSU Tiger with 13 PGA TOUR victories and ranked No. 8 on the career PGA TOUR earnings list, Gneiser is now caddying for former three-time LSU All-American John Peterson.
"It was one of the toughest phone calls I've ever had to make," said Gneiser, who was on the bag for 12 of Toms' 13 victories, including his major at the 2001 PGA Championship. "It's tough to split apart after 15 years.
"David understood. He has a lot of things going on and is not playing as much. I think I can help a young kid like John out there in his rookie season on the PGA TOUR."
Peterson asked Gneiser to join him for the Web.com Tour Finals month and the match has worked well so far. Peterson is ranked No. 5 entering this week's Web.com Tour Championship and has his TOUR card secured for the upcoming season.
Ironically, Peterson grew up across the street from Colonial Country Club, home of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial -- one of Toms' favorite tournaments. And it wasn't by coincidence that Toms is also Peterson's favorite golfer.
"He used to come over as a little kid at Colonial to watch David," Gneiser said. "He would eyeball him the whole time, trying to learn. Before you knew it, John was playing at LSU just like David."
The last time Gneiser carried the bag for the 46-year-old Toms was at the Wyndham Championship. Toms shot a final round 62 to keep his playing privileges on TOUR.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
FORT WORTH, Texas -- John Peterson, the Web.com Tour regular playing on a sponsor's exemption at this week's Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, has a familiarity with the course that no one else in the field can match.
His grandfather was a member at Colonial for 53 years, and when John's family moved from Baton Rouge, La., back to Fort Worth -- where John was born -- his grandfather took the youngster to play Colonial for the first time.
Since then, Peterson figures he's played Colonial "400 or 500 times."
"I kind of learned how to play out here," he said.
But will that give him an advantage this week?
Peterson has never played Colonial in PGA TOUR conditions and set-up. And he isn't that familiar with its most recent changes from four years ago. Since going off to college at LSU -- where he was a three-time All-American -- Peterson's visits to Colonial have been limited.
"I think I snuck on a year and a half ago with a member," he said.
But he does have a specific gameplan for this week, especially off the tee: Hit driver whenever possible. During Monday's pro-am, he used driver on 13 of the 14 driving holes, including the 408-yard 10th hole. The only time he opted for 3-wood was at the 389-yard par-4 second.
"I haven't seen a guy hit a driver on 10 in a long time out here," he said. "... I will probably hit more drivers than most guys out here because of my comfort level on most of these tees."
Thanks to his fourth-place finish at last year's U.S. Open, Peterson already has a spot locked up for Merion next month. He'd love nothing more than to play well this week and grab some momentum for another U.S. Open run.
"I just feel my comfort level is going to be pretty high (this week)," Peterson said, "and I have a good chance of playing well out here because I played here so much."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- John Peterson's pastor told him about the lists.
You know the kind. Players most likely to miss the cut at the Masters. Players to look for on Thursday and Friday at Augusta National because you won't see them on the weekend.
Yes, the Internet can be cruel. But the 23-year-old Peterson is having the last laugh after posting a 71 in the first round.
"I was like, I'm going to free it up and kill it and see where it goes," Peterson said. "That's what I did. If guys are going to expect me to miss the cut, I might as well go and try to prove them wrong."
Peterson, who won the 2011 NCAA title as a senior at LSU, earned his spot in the Masters after tying for fourth at last year's U.S. Open. He is the first active member of the Web.com Tour to play in the Masters.
He played a practice round with his mentor, David Toms -- "He's helped me a ton," Peterson said -- and then followed the ceremonial shots of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player in the first group off the tee at the 77th Masters.
"I was hoping they were going to leave their ball in the airway so I could pick it up," said Peterson, who played with former champion Sandy Lyle and Nathan Smith, the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champ and a good friend.
The round didn't exactly get off to the most auspicous of beginnings as Peterson found the right fairway bunker with what he called his "worst" shot of the day. But he took a 9-iron and hit his second shot on the green, 20 feet below the hole, and a two-putt par ensued.
Peterson made the turn in even par, then added two birdies and a bogey on the back nine for the round of 1 under. "Very pleased with it," Peterson said. "I feel like I let a few go, but I'm definitely pleased with my round."
One of those articles Peterson's minister found even had his parishoner as a 1,000-to-1 shot to win the Masters. And when he finished his round a reporter asked Peterson if he thought he could win the Masters once if he played in the tournament a thousand times.
"I'm not going to live to be 1,000, so I won't get that chance," Peterson said.
Make no mistake, though. Peterson didn't come to Augusta National to soak up the atmosphere and smell the azaelas.
"I always feel like I can contend," he said. "I think the media kind of puts this pressure on you like you can. If you read into a list like I read last night and you read into it and you start believing it, then obviously you're dead before you tee it off.
"It doesn't matter if I'm the only one that thinks I can play. I believe I can, so yeah, I felt like I could play, and I feel like tomorrow I'm going to do the same thing, just going to hit it real hard off the tee and real hard into the green and try to make a few putts."
On Saturday at the U.S. Open, John Peterson aced the 13th hole at The Olympic Club with a 7-iron from 180 yards.
SAN FRANCISCO – John Peterson’s third round had been a struggle through 12 holes. But he made up for it with a hole-in-one at the 13th at the Olympic Club..
Peterson, the LSU grad playing with fellow Tiger alum David Toms, saw his tee shot at the 180-yard 13th roll into the cup. It was his first red number of the day; Peterson had arrived at the 13th tee box 4 over for his round.
The ace also happened to be the first one Peterson had ever made. The 23-year-old ended up shooting 72 and will start the final round at 3 over, four shots off the lead.
“I was thinking if I got in at 73, 74, that would be a solid round with the way I had putted it today,” Peterson said. “But when it went in, man, I don't know what I did, I want to watch the replay. I hope y'all have a replay so I can see it again. But I went nuts. I know that.
“I tried chest bump my caddie and I missed and I think I hit his head. But it was really, really cool. First one ever. Being in the U.S. Open on the weekend was awesome.”
Toms, who started the final round tied for the lead, didn’t play his best, shooting 76. But he still enjoyed the LSU pairing, and he couldn’t have been happier for Peterson when he made the ace.
“It was fun,” Toms said. “And then John made a hole‑in‑one. That's something he'll remember. He'll remember that forever. So it was fun for both of us. I wish we could have played a little better for each other, but that's how it goes. …
“I had my hands up in the air (when the ball went in the hole). I don't know if he could see it because I was probably in front of him watching his ball. And the crowd was going nuts. And it was pretty cool, I was pretty happy for them.
The ace was the 42nd ace in U.S. Open history, and the first since Thongchai Jaidee’s ace in 2010 at Pebble Beach. It’s also the second ace in U.S. Open history at the Olympic Club’s 13th. Chris Perry had a hole-in-one at the 13th in the third round in 1998.