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April 4 2013

2:30 PM

Slimmer, happier Gore near lead

By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

SAN ANTONIO -- Jason Gore has fought the battle of the bulge and now says he’s happy with his weight, even if he still cracks 200 pounds.

He has to be happy if he can talk about his features and still stretch a wide smile.

“I like this stuff,” a reporter told Gore, pointing to his stubbly jowls after he walked off the AT&T Oaks Course with a 3-under-par 69 in Thursday’s first round of the Valero Texas Open.

“It hides my chin,” Gore responded, smiling.

“Which chin?,” another bit of kidding came.

“All of them.”

Gore smiled.

He’s lost 44 pounds in the last year and has kept it off, but Thursday's round is more testament that Gore hasn’t lost his game, even if it has been a long time since he played in the final group of the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst and won the 84 LUMBER Classic that year.

He missed his first two cuts this year in South America on the Web.com Tour and did the same at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with scores of 71-72-73.

But he made his latest two cuts on the Web.com Tour and is in contention at TPC San Antonio, where he received a sponsor's exemption, this time without the help of the Twitter campaign that landed him at Riviera last year.

Gore made four birdies and missed just four greens. Even when he did miss, he still got up-and-down. His only bogey came courtesy of a three-putt when he yanked his tee shot to the other side of the green on the bunker-in-the-middle par-3 16th.

Thinking of giving up golf through the past year, Gore has found himself through a testy time at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in his last start in late March.

“It really didn’t hit me that I was still good at this game until I absolutely hit it like a 14-handicap, maybe not even that good,” Gore said. “The back nine on Saturday I hit five balls in the hazard, one out of bounds, and I think I shot 1-over-par on those nine holes. Sometimes playing bad and making a good score out of it makes you realize you’re still good.”

There was no bad play for Gore on Thursday.

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