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Hart graduate Jason Gore: Making the turn

Local golf hero is taking a break and gearing up for his future in the sport

Posted: December 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hart High graduate and PGA Tour veteran Jason Gore is looking at the recent turns in his golf career as positives.

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For a moment, the peaceful ambience at TPC Valencia is broken.

The deep sounds of stereo bass drone through the air blaring ’90s rock or modern hip-hop depending on the day.
All the noise is coming from the custom-made golf cart of professional golfer Jason Gore.

Lately, he’s been spending a lot of time cruising around Stevenson Ranch in the golf cart, which is decked out with a built-in iPad that blasts music through a state-of-the-art sound system.

The cart is street legal and can easily make the short jaunt from his house to the golf course.

For a guy who just two weeks ago came two strokes short of recapturing his PGA Tour card for the first time in three years, Gore, a 1992 Hart High graduate, is enjoying life as much as he ever has.

“I’m extremely disappointed, but I’m actually excited about what prevailed,” Gore says of his finish at PGA Qualifying School earlier this month. “I played just well enough to be heartbroken.”

In six rounds played at various courses in La Quinta, Gore finished 7-under-par and tied for 30th place.

Each year, full PGA Tour status is given to the top 25 finishers at Q School. The cutoff for the top 25 was 9-under this year.

For Gore, that means another year on the Nationwide Tour, the next step down from the PGA Tour.

Yet the 37-year-old PGA veteran talked about it all with a smile on his face and not a hint of bitterness in his voice.

Injuries and health issues have limited the amount of golf Gore has played and hampered his ability to play as well as he had in the past.

As a result, it’s increased his time spent at home, which has changed his view of the sport.

“Right now I just have to figure out what my happy medium balance is between being a professional golfer and a professional dad,” Gore says.

He and his wife Megan have a 7-year-old son, Jaxon, and a 3-year-old daughter, Olivia.

In July, Gore had surgery on his shoulder to remove a bone spur, keeping him away from the game for nearly four months and prompting him to spend more time at home than he had in years.

As far as he can remember, Gore said it was the first time since age 12 he had spent a significant time away from the golf course.

The long-driving golfer also battled weight problems and said he was told by doctors that he was borderline diabetic.

Due to his slumping results leading up to the surgery, he hasn’t played full time on the PGA Tour since 2009.

It was so bad, in fact, that he briefly considered calling it a career after 15 years as a pro when his first two days of Q School left him near the bottom of the 160-player field.

“I was really considering maybe walking away from it,” says Gore, who is much slimmer and healthier than he has been in recent years. “If I had gone out and shot 74 (on the third day), it might have been a different thing. It might have been, ‘Maybe it’s time to think about something else to do.’”

Across the final four rounds of the tournament, Gore shot a combined 10-under and climbed significantly in the standings.
One thing became clear to him afterward — he’s not done playing competitive golf.

Far from it.

“Making that late charge proved something big to me,” Gore says. “I was beginning to wonder if I had the guts or the drive — I still had the work ethic — but whether I still had the drive to compete with these kids. They’re all 25, 26 with perfect golf swings.”

For most of his life, Gore hasn’t had a problem competing with the sport’s elite.

From 2005-09, he consistently made enough cuts and earned enough money on the PGA Tour to maintain his status on tour while earning an average of nearly $850,000 a year in tournament winnings during that stretch.

In 2005, Gore burst onto the golfing scene when he found himself tied for second placed and in the final pairing headed into the last round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

Gore wasn’t a full-time PGA Tour member at the time, so he became the tournament’s Cinderella story and, in turn, a crowd favorite.

Though he ended up shooting a final-round 84 and finished tied for 49th place, it set off what would become the most successful year of his career including his lone PGA Tour Victory at the 84 Lumber Classic just three months after the U.S. Open.

Before officially turning pro in 1997, Gore was part of an NCAA Division I Championship team at Pepperdine University earlier that year.

While at Hart High, he won individual Foothill League championships in 1991 and 1992.

Even now, he strives to get back to the level he was at in 2005.

He aspires to have another chance to play in the final grouping of a major championship.

“That’s what we play for,” he says. “Winning golf tournaments is why we play. Money and all that stuff comes secondary.”

For now, Gore considers himself on vacation. He doesn’t have any tournaments scheduled on either tour.

At some point though, he plans to start making noise again in the golfing world.

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