While Zack Bixler is off preparing for a trip to q-school (as a player) who employer, Alex Prugh, is enjoying a strong run in the Fall Series.
Prugh nearly felled Rocco Mediate last week at the Frys.com Open, and the Las Vegas resident is threatening to win right in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas. Prugh's new caddie, Eric Hastings, was on the bag last week and is back with Prugh this week. The pair are currently tied for the lead after Prugh birdied three of his first four holes Saturday.
Prugh, a rookie, has enjoyed most of his success this year west of the Rockies. He had three top-10s during the West Coast Swing to start the year but didn't have another top-10 until last week at CordeValle.
In the second round of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Alex Prugh holes a lengthy putt at the par-4 15th hole for an eagle two:
Alex Prugh eagled the 15th on the way to a 64 on Friday
In year filled with record performances in the scoring department, it appeared for a little while that rookie Alex Prugh would have a shot at becoming the first player on TOUR to fire a 58.
For a little while on Friday, anyway. His early 64 still gave him the early lead.
Prugh, who secured his 2011 PGA TOUR card with a tie for second in the Frys.com Open last week, started off innocently enough on Friday. After birdieing his first three holes at TPC Summerlin, he parred the easy par-5 13th. But it didn't exactly kill his momentum.
Prugh stuck his tee shot to 27 feet on the par-3 14th and made the putt, then went for the green on the drivable par-4 15th. His tee shot finished 41 feet away ... and he made that putt too. He then hit the par-5 16th hole in two and two-putted for birdie, putting at 7 under after 7 holes.
He cooled off from there. He parred his next six holes before birdieing the par-3 fifth, but he gave that shot back with a bogey on the next hole.
Today’s round is turning into one in which pars are a very good thing -- at least for Alex Prugh.
Prugh is even through his first 11 holes, but that’s been good enough to now move him to within one of Rocco Mediate, who is leaking oil at 4 over through 11 holes.
The cold-ish and rainy weather isn’t helping Mediate’s back, and hitting just four of eight fairways and four off 11 greens aren’t either. When you miss that green, your putting numbers are usually good, but Mediate has struggled with the flat stick too, taking 18 putts through 11 holes and a 2.250 average on putts per green in regulation.
No wonder he hasn’t made a birdie today. Now it’s just a matter of trying to hang on for Mediate.
A bogey on the par-5 12th hole may have just ended Kevin Stadler’s chances to win. Stadler missed the fairway left on the 596-yard hole and never was able to recover. It also brought to an end a stretch of 29 holes without a bogey for Stadler – his last came on the par-5 ninth on Friday.
The bogey also dropped Stadler three back of Rocco Mediate. Alex Prugh, meanwhile, has now moved into second. He’s two back and even on his round through 10 holes in what are less-than-ideal conditions with rain soaking the golf course. Just ask Bo Van Pelt. He’s 3 over through 10 holes and has dropped back into a four-way tie for third place.
Here's a weird stat for you: PGA TOUR rookie Alex Prugh has three top-10s this year -- and all of them came in the Golden State. All three of of them came during the West Coast Swing stretch earlier this year when the TOUR played three events in California (Bob Hope Classic, Farmers Insurance Open, Northern Trust Open) in three weeks.
Fast forward to October. Prugh, a Nationwide Tour graduate, hasn't threatened the top-10 since that run. His best finish since May? A tie for 33rd in the Turning Stone Resort Championship.
But the TOUR's return to the West Coast has revitalized his game, and not a moment too soon. After his run of top-10s, Prugh all but had his card secured for 2011. Since then, he's fell to 104th on the money list. His total of $816,266 appears safe, but it's hardly a lock.
It might be a lock now. Prugh fired a 66 on Friday that got him to 7 under, six shots back of Rocco Mediate, and into position for a late tee time on Saturday. Prugh's Round 3 scoring average has been 69.86 this year, remarkably low for a rookie.