Bhavik Patel will have to go with his back-up plan for 2013. But don't feel sorry for the 22-year-old local first-year golf professional.
Patel fired an even-par 72 on the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta in the final round of the PGA Tour Final Stage Qualifying and finished at 13-under-par for the grueling six-round tournament. Patel (70-69-71-67-70-72--419) finished tied for 49th.
The top 25 and ties (five players tied for 22nd at 17-under) earned PGA Tour playing rights for 2013. The next 50 and ties earned exempt status on the Web.com Tour, the PGA Tour's minor league tour, and that's where Patel, the 2011 California Amateur champion, will play in 2013.
"Yeah, I'm disappointed that I didn't get my PGA Tour card," said Patel after his final round. "I just never got comfortable on the greens on either course. I struck the ball just as well if not better than I did in the first and second stages (of qualifying, when Patel finished in the top three), but I just didn't make enough putts. Had I putted like I did two weeks ago in the second stage, I probably could have shot 25-under or better."
Though he won't be competing against the likes of Tiger Woods, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson next year, Patel knows that playing on the Web.com Tour may be a blessing in disguise.
"It will give me a chance to learn the professional game, get inside the ropes and find out about tour life," said the former Bakersfield High and Fresno State star. "There is so much more to tour golf than just playing; things like time management, scheduling and travel affect your game and it will be good to experience those. And hopefully, if I play well enough, I will finish in the top 25 on the money list and earn a PGA Tour spot for 2014."
Patel said he plans on playing in the first three events on the Web.com Tour, all out of the country in Columbia, Panama and Chile before the Tour heads to the states for the remainder of 2013.
Patel needed a final round 4-under 68 to get to 17-under. He reached 2-under twice during his final round, but gave it right back, the last time on the par-3 17th island green. After an eagle on the par-5 16th, Patel was 2-under and needed back-to-back birdies to get to 17-under, but his 9-iron tee ball floated right into the water on 17.
"It was an extremely tucked pin, but I had to make birdie so I went for it and just pushed it right," said Patel. "Normally, that would just be a shot to the middle of the green, make a par and get out of there, but the circumstances changed all of that."
After a penalty drop, Patel made a double-bogey 5, his only double-bogey of the tournament and with it went his chances at playing the PGA Tour in 2013.
There were 1,588 players who filled out applications to compete for a PGA Tour spot in 2013 and Patel was one of 12 players who made it to the finals by playing in all three of the preliminary events.
"I guess I can't be that tough on myself," Patel said. "It was a tough test and I made it to the finals and I was right there with a chance, so I can only build upon this experience."
The medalist was South Korea's Dong-hwan Lee, who finished at 25-under-par, while two-time heart transplant recipient Eric Compton secured his PGA Tour card with a final-round 67 and finished tied for seventh at 22-under.
Jam defeats Santa Cruz
Guard John Jenkins led Bakersfield with 22 points as the Jam topped Santa Cruz, 102-95, at the Dignity Health Event Center.
Kendall Marshall, a rookie out of North Carolina, had 21 points and eight assists in his first game with the Jam. Jenkins and Mike Scott (seven points) played their first game since being assigned to Bakersfield by the Atlanta Hawks.
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