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PGA golf: Gore’s ‘major’ is here

Hart graduate relishes playing Northern Trust Open at Riviera

Posted: February 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Hart High graduate and professional golfer Jason Gore will take part in this weekend’s Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club thanks to a sponsor’s exemption.

 

PACIFIC PALISADES — He tweeted, he came, and now it’s time for him to conquer.

Professional golfer and Hart High graduate Jason Gore has been waiting for this tournament all year.

What started with a few innocent messages on his Twitter account turned into a sponsor’s exemption to the Northern Trust Open, where Gore will tee off today at Riviera Country Club to kick off his 2012 PGA campaign.

After a difficult stretch marred by injury and subpar results dating back to 2010, he pinpointed this tournament as an opportunity to prove he’s still got something in the tank.

What better venue for the 37-year-old than Riviera Country Club, a longtime local favorite of Gore’s?

“I’ve had a hard few years, had shoulder surgery last year,” he said in a Wednesday press conference at Riviera. “But yeah, this is my major. This is where I came out to watch golf when I was a kid.”

Though Gore doesn’t have his PGA Tour card and currently resides on the Nationwide Tour, he turned to social networking to plea his case for an exemption to the Northern Trust, where he’s making his seventh career start.

After receiving a flood of support from his followers on Twitter, the tournament officially invited him on Jan. 12, citing his past success and local fan support.

A month later, he’s preparing for his first PGA event since Qualifying School last December — and this one takes place just 30 miles from his Stevenson Ranch home.

The event is nothing to sneeze at either, with the 144-player field including 27 of top 50 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Notable participants will be World No. 1 Luke Donald, four-time major winner Phil Mickelson and World No. 8 Adam Scott.

Both Mickelson and Scott are former Northern Trust champions.

Given the stakes, Gore admitted emotions are running high this week.

“It’s a good slap in the face of reality,” Gore said. “Not that I would ever chance it, but once I get out on the golf course, it’ll be fine. I think now that I’m here especially, it’s a lot easier. I think knowing four, five, six weeks in advance, knowing I was playing, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to do that.”

Since turning pro in 1997, Gore has won just once on the PGA Tour — the 2005 84 Lumber Classic — and seven times on the Nationwide Tour.

He’s collected more than $5 million in career winnings, but only managed $71,000 in 2011.

That included a missed cut at last year’s Northern Trust.

His best career finish at the tournament was a tie for 14th place in 2008. He’s made the cut three times, but not since 2009.

This year, however, is Gore’s first attempt at the tournament after a surgery that kept him off the golf course for three months last year.

Afterward, Gore rededicated himself, dropped 40 pounds and nearly completed the final stage of Q-School to cap off the 2011 season.

With a new physical and mental outlook on the sport, he’s ready to tackle the par-71, 7,349 yard course this week.
Gore is scheduled to tee off at 1:04 p.m. today.

“This is the time to do it,” he said. “I made a commitment to get my body right. ... I love being out here. This is what I feel like I should be doing.”

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