Sept. 9, 2002
By Joe Chemycz
PGA TOUR staff
SANDY, Utah - Even Mother Nature couldn't stop Arron Oberholser at the rain-delayed Utah Classic. The current Santa Clara University assistant men's golf coach posted a bogey-free, 5-under-par 67 Sunday to win the 54-hole event by two strokes over Doug Barron and Brian Claar.
Patrick Moore (64), Victor Schwamkrug (67), Jimmy Walker (69), former BYU Cougar Andy Miller (69) and Curt Byrum (70) tied for fourth place, three back.
Oberholser, who moved into contention with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, collects his second win of the year along with the $76,500 first-place check, which moved him to No. 1 on the season money list.
"This one was tough," said Oberholser. "I didn't feel in control of my swing at all today. There were a few times when I didn't even know where my clubhead was in my backswing. I felt like I was blindly ripping at it. I know that's going to sound funny, but it's the truth. It was nerve-wracking, but I got it done a lot of different ways."
Oberholser ended up at 14-under-par 202 for the tournament, which was delayed seven times by thunderstorms over the four days, finally forcing officials to cut the event to 54 holes on Sunday morning. He "got it done" by playing the five par 5s at Willow Creek Country Club in 14-under par.
"I told my caddie after our practice round that we needed it to take it deep on the par 5s," said Oberholser, who won the Samsung Canadian PGA Championship in early June. "You've got to make your money on the par 5s, that's for sure. That's how you get your TOUR card and keep your TOUR card, by making fours on fives."
Oberholser has all but locked up a spot on the 2003 PGA TOUR, where the top 15 money winners from this year will advance.
Oberholser, who began Sunday's round in a four-way tie for the lead, had to wait out a nearly four-hour delay at the start of play. He and the rest of the field managed only 75 minutes on the course, when rain halted play again.
"This was a very difficult week for us. There was no continuity to it, no flow. Start-stop, start-stop. It was tough," he said. "But there isn't anything you can do about it. It's part of golf. You find something to do. You concentrate on getting ready and you keep plugging."
When the rains let up enough to resume play in the mid-afternoon, Oberholser returned to the fourth hole where he began a string of three straight up-and-down par-saves.
"Those were huge for me," he said. "Fortunately, I missed the greens in the right places. You can get stuff done from in front of the greens, but not from the sides or behind."
With Moore rocketing up the leaderboard and Miller chasing him, Oberholser joined the leaders with a birdie at the ninth to get to 11 under and then assumed the lead for good with a chip-in eagle at the par-5 12th, his second straight eagle on that hole.
"I put a pitching wedge back in my stance and bumped it down there from about 18 feet. It rolled right in the cup. That hole was good to me," he said. "My short game was working all week. It was really strange. I didn't make a ton of birdies but I was finding ways. My short game definitely saved my butt this week."
After a birdie on the 14th, Oberholser turned his attention to the crowds in front of him and not the leaderboards. "I do not like watching the board. I feel like it takes me out of the present," he said. "I like to keep the blinders on. I just listened. I knew if I heard a cheer it was a birdie and if it was a loud cheer it was probably a birdie for Andy (Miller)."
The loud cheers never materialized and all Oberholser had to do was post four pars on his final holes to secure the win.