DiMarco comes of age with Phoenix Open victory
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2002 Phoenix Open | Wrap | 28 Jan 2002
An event that attracts not only a great field, but also the largest crowds of the year. More than 500,000 spectators turned up over the week and it speaks volumes for the design of the course as a tournament venue that it can accommodate such a crowd.
This year’s victor Chris DiMarco has really has come of age over the last three years despite the fact that he has been a pro since 1990. He is one of the many examples of how a dual tour benefits the quality of the regular tour, as he has twice had to return to the secondary tour in order to regain his USPGA Tour card. That continuity maintained his faith and his progress as a player and he is now well inside the top twenty in world rankings. In fact as I write this he is 17th in the world but when the revised rankings are produced tomorrow it is likely that he will be inside the top fifteen.
DiMarco’s first win came at the 2000 Pennsylvania Classic but it was likely the US Masters last year that gained him an international profile. He led after two rounds and was not disgraced as he faded a little over the weekend to finish 10th. That event showed that he was not far away from the level needed to succeed at the highest level and what he has done since has added even further to that belief.
It may be a good idea to find somewhere where you can get some odds on him doing well at Augusta, as I am sure you are able to get juicy odds for this inform golfer. His putting grip does not inspire confidence but it works for him and a couple of others and he and Calcavecchia’s success will I am sure inspire more to take up this style.
DiMarco led by four through the front nine and appeared headed for a comfortable win despite the quality of player chasing. The disaster struck with a double on the 11th and then bogies on twelve and thirteen. Playing partner Kenny Perry’s birdie on the 12th had him in the lead by a shot and they exchanged birdies before they both reached the fabulous par four seventeenth tied for the lead at 17 under. Although Perry’s tee shot was only thirty yards from the pin he was faced with a difficult up and down and in fact probably out thought himself as he proceeded to three putt to let DiMarco take a one shot lead to the last. He managed to par it and while Perry’s birdie putt shaved the hole the victory was his.
Kenny Perry has struck a rich vein of form with four top tens in his last five starts on tour including his fifth in last year’s Tour Championship. Long forgotten it would seem is the debacle of his 1996 PGA playoff where he spent time in the commentary box rather than preparing for the playoff with Mark Brooks. Two years in the wilderness followed but the 41 year old is clearly back on track.
Kaname Yokoo in his second full year on tour did well in his first season last year to secure his card but his first two events this year hardly showed what was to come missing both cuts. His second here however has given the 28 year old his best finish on tour and he is well on the way to having playing privileges in 2003 given the money available for a tie for second ($US350,000). He is a multiple winner in his Japan Tour days and with this under his belt to give that necessary confidence he may rival the likes of Maruyama.
Lee Janzen and John Daly showed welcome returns to form to tie for fourth, with Daly continuing to impress with not only his play but also his focus of late.
Rod Pampling in just his third event as a cardholder continues to impress. His bogey free last round of 65 got him into a tie for eighth and a cheque for $US100,000.
New Zealander Craig Perks in his best start so far in three years on tour finished fifteenth and $US68,000, Geoff Ogilvy recovered from a slow start for 40th along with New Zealander Grant Waite.