One of the best things about golf is that every now and then it will take some Joe Bagadivots and turn his life into a fairy tale.
One of the worst things about golf is that it never seems to write these guys a happy ending.
Last week in Pinehurst, N.C., golf spit out a whopper-- Jason Gore, 31 years old and 239 pounds, most of it heart and none of it neck. He was not a player, he was a player piano. From a nine-iron away, he had a vague resemblance to the Cincinnati Marriott.
He was what the temp agency sends you when you request a nobody--the 818th-ranked player in the world.
He ranked 58th on the money list--the Nationwide tour money list. That's the PGA Tour's minor leagues. And even out there, he'd made only $29,879 all year. Phil Mickelson has more than that in his change jar.
But the U.S. Open is open, and Gore clawed through not one but two levels of qualifying until he had himself a tee time at Pinehurst No. 2. Of course, in a fairy tale, the hero has to get slapped around a bit first. So 72 hours before the Open somebody broke into his Expedition outside a hotel in Asheville, N.C., and stole his laptop, iPod and car stereo, and busted the AC. They also took most of the family's clothes. "Even my underwear," Gore said. "Poor guys."
That left Jason and his wife, Megan, with a four-hour drive to Pinehurst in 95� heat with no air conditioning and an eight-month-old baby boy with two infected ears. Party!
Luckily, the thieves didn't get Gore's clubs (they were in his caddie's car)--and those clubs suddenly went all Tiger. Gore opened with a 71, then a shocking 67, his golf shirt buttoned all the way up. It was hard to tell who was under the most pressure, the massive Gore or that top button.
He was even better in the pressroom. "Hey, my putter doesn't know it's the U.S. Open," he said. "My ball doesn't know. And I'm not going to tell them."
The biggest win in his life? "Have to be Boise [on the Nationwide]," he said. "Then New Mexico. Hey, Boise, New Mexico, U.S. Open. That has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"