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Players show gratitude for sponsor exemptions
Question of the Day
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (AP) - Rod Pampling had a few nervous moments while watching parts of the final PGA Tour event on TV, though it ended well for him. After starting the year with only limited status as a past champion, he regained his full card at No. 124 on the money list with $2,033 to spare.
Pampling spent the next month trying to contact every tournament director who gave him a sponsor exemption, thanking them for helping him get his card again. In some cases, Pampling wound up earning his way into tournaments and didn’t need the exemption. The way he saw it, the offer of an exemption at least gave him something to fall back on, so it still meant a lot.
“I’ve been doing this 25 years. I’m not saying I’ve never had a guy call me and thank me for doing that, but it’s the first in a long time,” AT&T National tournament director Greg McLaughlin said. “It’s very rare. All the other guys are thankful and appreciative. But rarely do I get one after the season when a guy gets his card and calls you to thank you.
“As far as I’m concerned, he can play in one of my tournaments if he ever needs a spot. He’s set for life.”
Pampling most likely was not alone. Even so, it was a classy gesture worth pointing out with hopes that it gets repeated.
“It was just to thank them for helping me out,” Pampling said. “They didn’t have to do that. It was a simple gesture on their part, and it’s not that hard to call and say, `Thanks for that.’ I was just trying to do the right thing. Hopefully, I won’t need the invite again.”
Joe Ogilvie, who lives in Austin, Texas, added a local flavor to his gratitude.
This year he had conditional status, those between No. 126 and No. 150 on the money list, and received his share of exemptions. Ogilvie finished at No. 116. The tournament directors who gave Ogilvie a spot received goodies from Salt Lick, which he regards as the best barbecue in Texas.
“The help I got from these tournament directors … enabled me to finish in the top 125,” Ogilvie said. “Obviously, I helped myself by playing well, but they certainly helped. I’m not a star by any means. I think I’m really good in front of corporates and sponsors, but I’m not going to sell three tickets. These guys helped me, and I wanted to show my appreciation.
“That was my `thank you’ note.”
BJORN IS BACK: Thomas Bjorn was No. 65 in the world, two weeks removed from winning the Qatar Masters, when he arrived in Arizona for the Match Play Championship. It was his first time at a World Golf Championship in four years. He had a chance to sneak into the top 50 and get into the WGC at Doral and perhaps get back to the Masters.
Bjorn, however, would have none of that talk.
“Those days are behind me,” he said.
How wrong the great Dane turned out to be. As an alternate at the British Open, he finished fourth. A month later, Bjorn won the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles and then won again the next week in Switzerland at the European Masters.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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