A cynic might seize on the nightmare possibilities from Saturday's third round Northern Trust Open, but I prefer to focus on the positive: the turkey and white bean media center tacos, followed by pecan bars and in a brilliant pre-story filing move, white chocolate oatmeal cookies!
- Jason Allred, the former Byron Nelson Award winner (it means he's classy) from Pepperdine, Monday-qualified, then followed up a round two 64 with a 67 Saturday, and has toiled long enough on the Web.com and other assorted mini-tours. Plus, he started tearing up talking about his family and the blessing that is this week after starting to wonder if he should choose another line of work. The entire package adds up to a Cinderella story extraordinaire. He’s three back of leader William McGirt and hopes to become the first Monday qualifier to win since Arjun Atwal (Wyndham Championship) in 2010.
-McGirt’s performance makes total sense as he’s missed the cut in his two previous starts at the Northern Trust Open and has eight starts this season without a top 10. And just one top-25 finish. How did we not see this coming?
- Great stuff from leader McGirt’s post round presser here talking about his mini-tour struggles and why he thanks volunteers when he sees them:
Q. How many mini‑tours did you play?
WILLIAM McGIRT: Oh goodness, may run out of fingers and toes ‑‑ E‑Golf Tour, Hooters Tour, some one‑day tours, there was All‑Star Tour in Jacksonville, Carolina Mountain Tour, Carolinas Pro Tour ‑‑
Q. Sorry I asked.
WILLIAM McGIRT: Hey, you ask, you wanted to know. I was going to try to name them all.
CHRIS REIMER: William actually slept on my couch at one of those tours.
WILLIAM McGIRT: All‑Star Tour, yeah.
Q. After going through all that, what's it like to just be in the big leagues? You appreciate it that much more?
WILLIAM McGIRT: Definitely. For guys that came through mini‑tours, I think we tend to appreciate things a lot more. We could be playing for less than our own entry fee, full entry fee every week. So, yeah, everything that's out here, nothing's taken for granted, I can assure you of that.
Out here, we have people that take days and weeks off work to help us, to volunteer to do stuff for us. I try to say thank you as much as I can to those folks, because without all the volunteers, we would not be able to do what we do.
And when you are around mini‑tours for eight years and go through a bunch of heartaches at Q‑School, once you finally get here, you really have to appreciate it.
- I heard from a few people that a disproportionate amount of the weekday Golf Channel telecasts focused on the bumpiness of the Riviera greens and the distinct advantage for those playing in the morning. The good folks at ShotLink looked up the scoring averages for morning and afternoon waves:
Thursday: 71.27 morning, 71.69 afternoon
Friday: 71.76 morning, 71.27 afternoon
- Jordan Spieth’s 67 kept him within four of McGirt. Should the 20-year-old win, he would become the youngest winner of the Northern Trust Open by almost four years. Pat Fitzsimmons won the 1975 Los Angeles Open at Riviera when he was 24 years, 2 months and 8 days.
-After averaging over par the first two rounds, the par-4 10th played 278 yards to the flag and ShotLink pretty ably depicts that driving the green was the smart play. The hole saw two eagles, 20 birdies, 43 pars, 11 bogeys and 1 double, for a 3.857 average.
-A Charlie Beljan win should prompt an amendment to the federal drought package proposed for California by President Obama. Hey, funny I should mention the President! Beljan once Tweeted that Obama was the “biggest D-Bag this country has ever seen,” before snipers took out his Twitter account only to have it resurface again, only to then die another death. Unfortunately, Beljan’s within two strokes of the lead.
-Pepperdine, which has no golf team access to Riviera because the club is restricted to college programs that buy memberships at $250,000 apiece (plus dues and transfer fees because, after all, memberships need to always be in player names just to round out this NCAA-kosher nonsense), appears to be winning the local college standings this week by having three players make the cut, to UCLA and USC's one each.
Jason Allred Pepperdine University T4
Kevin Chappell UCLA T33
Kevin Stadler University of Southern California T50
Jason Gore Pepperdine University T59
Michael Putnam Pepperdine University T76
John Merrick UCLA MC