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Northern Trust Open: Gore can’t shake rust

Hart grad misses cut at Riviera C.C.

Posted: February 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

PACIFIC PALISADES — Each time one of Jason Gore’s putts just wouldn’t quite drop into the hole, he cringed and clutched the bill of his cap.

It was that kind of tournament for the Hart High graduate.

Playing in his first PGA event of the year on Friday in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club, Gore finished with a two-day score of 8-over for the tournament.

It was well off the projected cut of 3-over, which isn’t officially set because the second round was stopped slightly early due to darkness.

But as difficult of day as it was for Gore, he took each gut-wrenching miss in stride, maintaining a smile and a receptive attitude toward the supportive gallery.

The 37-year-old Stevenson Ranch resident is tied for 115th among the 144-man field with eight golfers still needing to finish their second rounds today.

Playing his first PGA tournament since Qualifying School in December, it wasn’t the start to 2012 that Gore had imagined.

“It was tough,” Gore said. “I definitely had a lot of rust, but there were some good things that happened. Most of it was crap, but there were some good things that happened, so I’m going in the right direction.”

For the second day in a row, Phil Mickelson left the par-71, 7,349-yard course with the overall lead, as he turned in a 1-under second round on Friday to move to 6-under overall, a stroke better than Pat Perez in second.

Perez tied for the tournament-best round of 6-under 65 on Friday to climb the leaderboard.

Those two are followed by five other players at 4-under, including Jimmy Walker, Matt Kuchar, Carl Pettersson, Jarrod Lyle and Jonathan Byrd.

It was a wild finish to an up-and-down day for Mickelson, who holed out from the fairway 110 yards out to eagle the 8th, but that was sandwiched between two bogeys on 7 and 9.

While the roars from Mickelson’s gallery echoed through the hills of Riviera, Gore wasn’t enjoying as much success.

“I expected to play better, but I didn’t and that’s golf,” he said. “It’s outside, it’s played on grass. It’s hard. It’s a hard game.”

A late tee time on Thursday cut Gore’s first round short after play was stopped at dusk.

He had to finish his last four holes of the round beginning at 7 a.m. Friday, and his day didn’t finish up until more than six hours later at 1:17 p.m.

A long day turned even longer for Gore when he bogeyed the par-4 18th hole to card a 5-over 76 in the opening round.

That was one of 10 bogeys for Gore in the tournament.

He hit 15-of-24 fairways and 18-of-36 greens in regulation on a day that, unlike Thursday, was warm, sunny and mostly devoid of wind gusts.

The warm, dry weather made for difficult playing conditions, mostly due to the ultra-fast greens.

At one point, Gore lipped out three straight putts on holes 2, 3 and 4 in his second round — two of them were par putts.

“That’s kind of the way it was,” Gore said. “I hit a bunch of good putts and was just a little bit off on the read or the speed or something. I just didn’t pop up.”

When he finally drained a nine-footer on the 5th hole for a birdie, Gore let out a sarcastic, emphatic fist pump.

He ended up with a 74 in the second round.

His only other birdie in the tournament came on the par-5 1st hole on Thursday, when he narrowly missed a 10-foot putt for eagle.

The bogeys started piling up later Thursday thanks a poor approach on 7 and errant tee shots on holes 8, 12, 13 and 14.

As far as he’s concerned though, this was just the first step toward a career revival.

“I’m making a few swing changes. I’ve lost some eight, changed equipment,” Gore said. “It’s a lot on the plate so it’s OK. It’s going to be a good year. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year. Just get that putter rolling. It can’t be like this forever.”

Gore said he plans on trying to qualify for next week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

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