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.