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November 1 2012

11:27 PM

Hallberg secure again, and contending

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Gary Hallberg opened with 5-under 65 at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Gary Hallberg was at a crossroads in his career two years ago.

He had won in 2010 on the Champions Tour, at the Ensure Classic at Rock Barn, but two years later needed to go to q-school to gain status on the 50-and-over circuit.

That q-school was at TPC Scottsdale, and he finished second. Two years later, some 10 miles north, he’s at Desert Mountain in the midst of his most consistent season and with a game capable of winning.

Hallberg shot 65 on Thursday in the first round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, one shot back of leader Jay Don Blake.

“It was just a super day. Drove it real well, had lots of birdies chances all day long,” said Hallberg, who had six birdies and one bogey. “It just felt like one of those rounds that I was supposed to get. You don’t get those very often. You say, ‘it should have been three better or four worse’ – but this was how I played.”

Hallberg – the first four-time, first-team All-American college golfer, at Wake Forest -- is a swing tinkerer, one to always be working on something. He’s got a good wingman in noted teacher Mike McGetrick as his caddie to bounce ideas with, but right now McGetrick may be better served to tell Hallberg to lay off the extracurricular swing activity.

“I want to go, ‘hey Mike, what do you think about this?’ Hallberg said. “He’s going to nip it in the bud.”

Hallberg hasn’t won this year but has six top 10s and is assured a spot on Tour next year by virtue of his spot on the money list (20th coming into the season finale). The crossroads are behind him.

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