Golf Beat: El Dorado Hills’ Bob Niger hopes new instructor extends pro career

There’s no quit in Bob Niger.

Not after he withdrew when 17 over par after three rounds with no chance of earning any status at last week’s Champions Tour qualifying tournament in Winter Garden, Fla.

Not after he’s made it into just 16 Champions Tour tournaments over five years with one top-25 finish and career earnings of $60,319.

Certainly not with the U.S. Senior Open coming to Sacramento next year.

“More of the same,” Niger said Tuesday when asked about his plan going forward.

The El Dorado Hills resident started working with highly regarded instructor Jim Hardy two months ago. Niger said Hardy is particularly adept at helping him quickly assess and correct his mishits.

“I probably would have called it quits if I hadn’t started working with Jim so recently,” Niger said. “I don’t want to pull the plug before I get a chance to see what we can do together. We just have to get over some final hurdles. Polish up some things that are holding me back.”

Niger advanced through eight of 16 pre-qualifiers this year and then through three of eight qualifiers. He earned $10,580 in three Champions Tour starts.

In a recent Northern California Golf Association magazine, Colin Montgomerie said players such as Niger who weren’t touring pros are “totally delusional” if they thought they could find success on the Champions Tour. Despite Hardy’s counsel to stay away from negative motivation, Niger admits he’s driven to prove that sentiment wrong.

“It would be fun to be able to say, ‘Yeah, I told you so.’ ”

And then there was one

Arbuckle’s Ben Geyer is the only player with local ties to advance to the final stage of Tour qualifying.

After an 8-over 79 in the first round in Panama City, Fla., last week that left him 57th in a field of 78, Geyer was 3 under over the final three rounds to finish 15th.

The 108-hole final stage starts Dec. 11 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Geyer is guaranteed at least conditional status on the Tour next season.

Erik Flores, Kevin Lucas, Erick Justesen, Cameron Rappleye, Matt Hansen and John Catlin failed to advance. Flores (Grass Valley) missed by one stroke when his final round of 1-under 70, the best of the day in trying conditions in Plantation, Fla., moved him from 48th to 21st.

Et cetera

▪ The Northern California PGA named its section winners for 2014: Tom Morton (player development), Greg Ciavarelli (club fitting), Stacy Baker (superintendent), Emmy Moore-Minister (media) and Will Robins (youth player development).

▪ Gift packages for the 2015 U.S. Senior Open at Del Paso that include two any-day tickets, two ticket lanyards and a championship logo hat in a ready-for-wrapping souvenir box are available for $99 at Haggin Oaks.

Call The Bee’s Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.