KORN FERRY TOUR INSIDER
Triple crown: Campbell, Slocum, Bates recall 2001 Three-Victory Promotions
May 21, 2020
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- 2001 marks the only year where each of three players -- Chad Campbell, Heath Slocum and Pat Bates -- won three times in a Korn Ferry Tour season. (Getty Images)
Pat Bates can barely speak about the 2001 Korn Ferry Tour season without getting goosebumps.
Bates, now 50, is no longer a professional golfer. He sells real estate with his wife, who is an interior designer, after spending five years as the men’s golf coach at the University of Central Oklahoma. But in 2001, he was on top of the golfing world – as he, Chad Campbell and Health Slocum all won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour that season and earned Three-Victory Promotions to the PGA TOUR.
Although three wins in a season has happened eight other times, 2001 remains the only year with multiple Promotions in the same season, and it hasn’t happened since Wesley Bryan’s 2016 run.
“I know for all three of us it was a dream come true,” said Bates, “and we did it in amazing fashion.”Pat Bates won the Korn Ferry Tour's 2001 Tour Championship with the support of his wife and kids. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Slocum was the first to get to three wins, and he nearly did in three consecutive weeks.
The 46-year-old has since progressed to a very solid PGA TOUR career, including a FedExCup playoff event victory in 2009 – where he topped Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods by a shot.
But the summer of 2001, Slocum said, was the best stretch of golf in his life.
“I’ll often look back and think about how things were going and how easy golf was and how clear my mind was,” Slocum said. “Even with all my wins on TOUR, I go back to that time when you just relax and can go play golf. That’s what I did best that year. I was in such a good state of mind and it allowed me to play good golf.”
He said the beginning of his season was inconsistent. He notched a couple of solid results (a third-place result in March and a T7 in May, for example) but he missed the cut in half of the first 10 tournaments he played, including three in a row before his first victory.
“The second half (of the season) is when something clicked and I was playing some of the best golf I’ve ever played. I just remember how unbelievable it felt that all that work and everything I had put into it had come to fruition,” he said. “And it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Slocum won the Greater Cleveland Open in June before finishing third the next week at the Dayton Open (despite shooting 23-under par). He would win the following event he played, the Knoxville Open, in the first week of July.
Almost exactly a month later, he would win his third tournament, the Omaha Classic, and become the second person in Tour history to earn a Three-Victory Promotion.
During his three-tournament stretch of 1-3-1, he went 106 holes without making a bogey.
“It was just crazy,” he said. “Honestly, it was one of my fondest golf memories, that year.”Heath Slocum earned a Three-Victory Promotion in 2001 and has since secured four TOUR titles. (Donald Miralle/Allsport)
Campbell ended up winning the money list that year, but he admitted if Slocum had stayed on the Tour until the end of the season, he would have likely topped him. Slocum, however, had other plans – he was off to the PGA TOUR by mid-August.
The now-45-year-old – who would go on to at one point be ranked in the top-10 in the world and have a chance to win multiple majors through his career – reflects fondly on 2001 as it was his first year with full status on the Korn Ferry Tour. Campbell opened the season with a runner-up result at the Florida Classic, and that was a sign of things to come. He missed only two cuts and had 13 top-10 finishes.
Campbell’s first win came at the Richmond Open in mid-May (both Slocum and Bates missed the cut that week, ironically), and he just remembers playing solidly.
The second victory was one of the most special of Campbell’s career, no matter the Tour.
Two weeks prior to the Permian Basin Open, Slocum had won for the third time and was already playing the PGA TOUR. But that event was a hometown return for Campbell, who grew up about an hour away from Midland, Texas, where the event was being held.
“I’m from a pretty small town, and having almost the whole town out there watching was pretty amazing,” said Campbell. “I had played in that event a couple of other times but honestly I never really played it that well.
“For some reason that week I did play really well and it was really nice to be able to do it in front of my friends and family.”
The world at-large was changed forever after September 11 of that year, but the Tour continued with its season later that month. Campbell won his third event in the first week of October, the Monterey Peninsula Classic, and for the first time in Korn Ferry Tour history there were now multiple players who had earned a Three-Victory Promotion.
But there would be one more.Chad Campbell won three Korn Ferry Tour events in 2001, and he has since captured four TOUR titles. (Harry How/Getty Images)
Bates describes 2001 as a miracle year for he and his family.
Two years prior, he had suffered a serious neck injury and had to have surgery. During the surgery he suffered a spinal cord injury and to this day he’s still feeling the effects – he can still barely move his left hand, two decades later. He was one of the longer hitters through college and in the early part of his professional career, but he was drastically shorter in 2001 when he was able to return to competition.
As an University of Florida alum, he got a spot in the first event of the season, the Florida Classic, and finished T17. He calls that the most important tournament of the year, because that result allowed him to secure better status.
He had a mixed bag of results through the first half of the year, but then started to revisit old swing videos and learn more about what Ben Hogan used to do. He began feeling something at impact he had never felt before and notched a T7 result at the Wichita Open.
Bates kept a journal in those days, he said, and on the last hole in Wichita he hit a 4-wood to about 3 feet on the 72nd hole, moving from 15th to seventh on the leaderboard. He remembers writing in his journal that he was doing a lot of things well.
“I thought I was ready to win again,” he said.
The following week was the Siouxland Open, an event he had won in 1994. He had made some friends that year and one of them caddied for him in 2001, which made the victory that much more special.
“That was a really cool moment. After my surgery in 1999, I was in the hospital for an extra week and in therapy for three months so I remember sitting in the hospital room thinking, ‘Well, Lord, I guess my golf career is over. I’d better find something else to do,’” said Bates.
“When I won that tournament it was really just a miracle, quite frankly.”
After 9/11, Bates, with children aged 4 and 2 and a pregnant wife, was away from home for six weeks. It was a tough time, but it spurred even more confidence.
“I was so excited to see them again, I won the tournament,” Bates said with a laugh about the Shreveport Open, the season’s penultimate event and his second win of the year. “I shot 20-under that week and that was about the best golf I’ve ever played.”
The Tour Championship saw Bates, Campbell and Slocum all in the same field for the first time since August, as Slocum had been playing the PGA TOUR. He returned to play the Tour Championship, with the Player of the Year race still yet-to-be-determined.
It was windy and cold (Bates recalls some players shooting 20-over for that week) and Bates won again, at just 4-under for the week, to notch his third victory of the year.
“I was just pinching myself,” said Bates. “I was 70 percent of the athlete I was (before surgery), but I ended up making the PGA TOUR.”Pat Bates won back-to-back titles to close the 2001 Korn Ferry Tour season, his second and third victories of the campaign. (Getty Images)
Campbell said the three guys never really got together to talk about what they had achieved, but he and Slocum were good friends back then – and remain close to this day – having played mini-tours together. They definitely realized it was a very special year, he said.
Both Campbell and Slocum would go on to win four times on the PGA TOUR, and Slocum says 2001 was “just unbelievable.”
“It goes to show you all the talent the Korn Ferry Tour has. It’s insane how good the quality of play is out there,” he said.
Slocum said that since three wins had been achieved in 1997, he knew it was an achievable goal.
“For a few years there, it was happening – it wasn’t uncommon,” said Slocum. Indeed, through the 2000s, players won three times in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009.
“I know what it was like for me: I started playing really good golf, I got hot, and then when you start having all that confidence it just rolls over every single week.”
Each three-win player from 2001 achieved their goals in very different fashion.
Slocum rode a heater in the middle of the season to a quick PGA TOUR promotion. Campbell was steady, mixing in his three victories throughout his Player-of-the-Year season. And for Bates, he leaned on a miracle.
“I literally only had three chances to win that year,” said Bates with a smile, “and I won them all.”