He majored in economics (Bixler did, too), and he's a smart kid. If you're looking for profound, you're asking a lot—he's a 25-year-old professional golfer—but he has his moments. In 2004, at age 19, Prugh was the first alternate for the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. He flew into LaGuardia Airport and was waiting at the baggage carrousel for his clubs. Aaron Baddeley and Tim Clark were waiting for their clubs too.
"I saw them and thought, They're regular people who happen to be very good at golf," Prugh said the other day. "They were waiting for their bags, like everybody else."
As a kid Prugh was never one to hang on every amazing thing that Tiger Woods did. "I was more into all that," Corey says. "Alex was doing his own thing." He's a regular person who happens to be very good at golf. Six events into his big league career, he is undaunted.
He has had good training. In the summer of '77 Steve played in the Dutch, German and Swiss Opens, among others. The son's the same way, willing to get on a plane. As an amateur he played in Great Britain and Japan. Last year he won the New Zealand Open, a Nationwide stop, playing the final 11 holes in eight under par. In victory Prugh, draped in a colorful Maori blanket on a hot day, raised his trophy high and then headed to the airport, Bixler at his side.
On Saturday at the Honda, Prugh was paired with Chris Riley, a former Ryder Cupper. Riley liked what he saw. "He's the same age I was when I got on Tour, and he has way more game than I did," Riley says. "He's not super long but plenty long enough. He's a nice kid with a good head on his shoulders. Does he want it? When you're 25 and you have no money in your bank account, you want it."
Prugh wants it. He wants to buy a house in Spokane and call it home, no matter how much time he spends working on his game in Las Vegas. His goal for this year is to play in the Tour Championship. He still hasn't qualified for any of the four majors. Nobody's going crazy here. They know it's a long, long road playing the Tour.
On Thursday, Prugh closed with a scrambling par, on a birdie hole. In the second round he made a bogey on the par-5 18th. In the third round he salvaged par there. On Sunday he closed with another bogey. He dumped his third into a greenside trap and after a bad bunker shot took two angry swipes at the sand. He finished in the middle of the pack (35th), but his bank account grew to $612,854, good for 25th on the money list.
"I have to learn to close these rounds," Prugh said when he was done, signing balls for waiting children.
Low energy? Tired head? What was it?
"Nah," the kid said. "Just bad shots."