Journeyman Bryce Molder attained his first career PGA Tour victory on Sunday by besting Briny Baird in a six hole playoff that followed four highly entertaining and competitive rounds of golf at the Frys.com Open in San Martin, California. After he dropped his Titleist ProV1X into 24 holes on Sunday, Molder was fatigued and overwhelmed in the aftermath of his victory. “That was a lot of golf. You get past the point of being nervous. You’ve been doing it for so long, your body just doesn’t feel it,” said the 32-year-old.
Molder certainly turned new golf balls into ones over the course of the tournament’s four rounds. After rolling in an even par 71 on Thursday, few expected Molder to end up anywhere near the leaderboard come Sunday, let alone perched on top of it. After he turned in rounds of 67, 65 and a highly impressive 64 on a pressure-packed Sunday, Molder found himself tied with Briny Baird at -17. After a brief rest and re-hydration, the two took to the Southern California course to settle the tie.
Neither of the golfers had been able to achieve victory in well over 100 starts each on the PGA Tour, so hunger and desire wasn’t an issue. Unfortunately for Baird, fatigue might have been, as the 39-year-old missed a few legitimate opportunities for birdies down the stretch and was defeated on the playoff’s sixth hole when Molder was able to roll in a birdie from a few feet away.
The tournament was a micro chasm of the entire 2011 PGA Tour season, as the big names and typical leaders have been absent and unheard from for the majority of the year. While it may initially seem to be an unfortunate situation, it has actually created an exciting and unpredictable environment that can produce a brand new face on any given weekend. While Molder isn’t likely to break into the top of the rankings anytime soon, he certainly has cemented his place alongside PGA Tour winners in a season where everyday pros such as him have been given a large window of opportunity.
Indeed, anyone who has been kicking around the idea of quitting their office job and making a run at the PGA Tour may want to pounce on the idea now, as the field is wide open and full of new faces. As any successful pro will tell you, practice makes perfect. You can set yourself up for practicing just like a pro with a bevy of used golf balls, which are cheap golf balls in terms of price, but excellent in terms of quality.
Amazingly, 15 of the top 20 finishers in the Frys.com Open were Americans, something that has become increasingly rare as golfing greats from countries all over the globe have been joining the PGA Tour over the course of the past decade. The only household name in the top 10 was South African Ernie Els, who put together four solid rounds of golf and finished in a tie for 4th place at 14 under.
The bunched leaderboard created a situation where a little bit of math was needed to divvy up the payouts. Along with the tie for first place that was ultimately decided by a playoff, there was the aforementioned two-way tie for 4th place, an eight-way tie for 7th place and a six-way tie for 15th place.