Ben Geyer started playing for money in January, three months after turning pro and having eye surgery that kept him off the course for two months.
The concept was a little unsettling, he admits, and he missed the cut in his first two minitour events by wide margins.
His solution? “Stop worrying about making the cut instead of just playing the game,” he said.
Bingo. The progression in three tournaments since: 11th, fifth and a win last week in the eGolf Tour West Arrowood Open in Oceanside worth $8,500. Geyer shot rounds of 65, 64 and 67, his three-round total of 17-under-par 196 his best ever.
Geyer, a 22-year-old from Arbuckle, was the Northern California Golf Association Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013 and the West Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2013 while at Saint Mary’s. His past performances suggest he has a future in the game.
Elk Grove’s Grant Rappleye tied for second behind Geyer and earned $4,830. Cameron Park’s Jake Johnson tied for 13th, and Cameron Rappleye was 16th. Each has played professionally for less than two years.
The Sacramento area is well-represented in West Coast minitour events: John Catlin, Kenneth McCready and Tyler Raber have been professional for less than a year, while Kevin Lucas, Grant Norton, Erick Justesen, Dillon Dougherty and Kyle Candlish have been at it longer. Lucas and Justesen have also won this year, giving area players three wins in six 2014 eGolf Tour West events.
“It’s nice to know so many of them,” Geyer said. “It’s not as lonely out on the road.”
A big check helps cover expenses, but all are playing to gain experience that will help them reach the PGA Tour. If they’re playing minitours for any other reason, they’re wasting their time, Geyer said.
He would like to see all of his friends succeed, but he knows that when one person wins, others lose.
“Golf is an individual game. That’s just the way it is.”
The college kids
• Loomis’ Austin Smotherman attends college in Texas (SMU), and Elk Grove’s Andrej Bevins does so at New Mexico. It was like old times over the weekend at the National Invitational in Arizona, when the two were paired in the final round. Both shot par 72.
Both are hot and cold. Smotherman, a sophomore, seems to have one good round and one bad round at every event. Bevins, a freshman, had two eagles, three birdies and five bogeys in his second-round 70.
• Washington freshman Corey Pereira (Cameron Park) is the highest-ranked local player at No. 68.
Off the tree, into the ...
On March 6, Peter Ferri ricocheted his tee shot off a tree left of the 12th green at Teal Bend and into the hole.
Ferri has a 27 handicap and the humility to go with it.
“It was a good shot ... in that it had air underneath it and it was high,” he said. “I wouldn’t have hit the green without the tree.”
After playing for 30 years without an ace, Ferri, 66, has two in three months. He made one at Bing Maloney in December. He attributes his surge of success to “playing it forward” to a more appropriate set of tees. His Teal ace came from 145 yards with a 7-iron.
• Sixteen two-player teams remain in the Sacramento City Four-Ball at Bing Maloney, including Craig Gandy and Ben Urias, who survived a qualifying playoff to reach match play and then took down two-time defending champs Jeff Gilchrist and Steve Woods 1 up. Look out for Chad Kubes and Dave Baskins, though. They have a May-December golf thing that’s working.
• Get ready, get set … tickets and volunteer sign-ups for the 2015 U.S. Senior at Del Paso will be available in late April.
Call The Bee’s Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.