Arbuckle looked more like Paris than Ben Geyer did a future PGA Tour player last year at this time.
The farming community an hour north of Sacramento from where Geyer hails hasn’t gotten more metropolitan in the past year (or half-century).
Geyer showed that his early stumbles as a pro were the exception when he advanced through four pressure-packed qualifying stages to earn exempt status on the Web.Com Tour for 2015.
He capped his impressive run Tuesday with a 2-under-par 69 in the final round of the final stage of the Web.Com qualifying tournament at the PGA National Champion course, the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., home of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic and the Jack Nicklaus-designed “Bear Trap” finish. Geyer improved seven spots, his six-round total of 10-under 419 good for 21st place.
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Geyer started the final round in 28th, with the top 45 in the 150-player field earning at least partially exempt status.
“By far the most pressure I’ve had in a single round in my career,” he said.
After a bogey on No. 2, Geyer responded with an eagle on the par-5 third hole and four birdies over the next 11 holes to vault into the top 10. At that point, he knew the dirty work was done.
“I just had to make sure I kept a pulse,” Geyer said.
A double bogey on No. 15 and bogeys on Nos. 16 and 18 sandwiching a birdie on No. 17 cost him some prize money and priority for next year, but considering more than 1,200 players started the pursuit, he didn’t complain.
Geyer, 23, earned $10,000 – his biggest payday – and exempt status through the second reshuffle in 2015. That should give him roughly eight tournaments to gain the traction he hopes catapults to the PGA Tour.
After an amateur career that included Northern California Golf Association Player of the Year honors in 2012 and 2013, and a West Coast Conference Player of the Year title in 2013 while at Saint Mary’s, Geyer didn’t make it past prequalifying last year in his first attempt and then missed the cut in his first two minitour events by wide margins.
He turned things around on the minitour circuit, winning once and finishing third on the eGolf Tour West money list with earnings of $26,575.
He made it through prequalifying and the first stage with relative ease this year. He opened the second stage with a 78 before rallying to advance with one stroke to spare. His six rounds at PGA National brought the total to 17 in his qualifying process this year.
“The next couple of days, when I come down from everything, my body will realize what I’ve been through,” he said.
For the golfer in your life
Last-minute gift ideas, courtesy of the Haggin Oaks Golf Super Shop:
▪ Wine from the pros: Luke Donald, Retief Goosen, Jack Nicklaus, Ernie Els, Greg Norman and Arnold Palmer reds and whites that run from $16 to $60. Try a night of blind tasting, match-play style.
▪ Butt putt: A practice putting receptacle shaped like a bum makes six different fart sounds as it shoots the ball back.
▪ Giant flask: Holds 2 gallons. Won’t fit in the cup holder in the golf cart, though.
▪ Sacramento’s Kim Welch failed to earn any LPGA Tour status for 2015 when tying for last among the 71 players who made the cut last week at the final stage of the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla.
▪ The championship tees at Del Paso Country Club earned a rating of 74.8 and a slope of 145 during a Northern California Golf Association re-rating that took into consideration narrower fairways and greater rough density ahead of the 2015 U.S. Senior Open. Del Paso, with a par of 71, previously had a rating of 74.0 and slope of 132.
▪ Granite Bay Country Club superintendent Matt Dillon said he’s received 12.11 inches of rain in October, November and December at his on-course weather station compared with 1.40 inches during the same span last year. “Saying it’s a drop in the bucket is hyperbole,” Dillon said. “We’re still in a drought, but we’re in much better shape than last year.”
Call The Bee’s Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.