Tryon, 17, learns par for course can make your day, if not the cut

Rise from 6-over debut encourages rookie

Golf

January 26, 2002|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Ty Tryon regained his touch and didn't lose his sense of humor yesterday. Darkness prematurely ended Tryon's second round as a 17-year-old PGA Tour rookie here at the Phoenix Open, three holes short of finishing and several strokes shy of making the cut.

At par for the day and 6-over for the tournament, Tryon joked that he accomplished one of his goals.

"I knew I'd make it to the weekend," Tryon said with a smile.

Tryon and the other 24 players who failed to complete a round that was delayed 45 minutes by frost will come back this morning. Tryon needed to close with three straight eagles to have any chance, meaning he will be heading home to Orlando, Fla., either today or tomorrow.

In all, it was a positive experience for a player who nearly two months ago became the youngest ever to earn his PGA Tour card through Qualifying School. That he hadn't played a competitive round since then didn't help. Nor did the difficult weather and large crowd that accompanied his start Thursday.

"As I reflect on it, it was a really good week, I really learned a lot," Tryon said last night. "A lot of things happened. There was so much anticipation and so much build-up coming into the tournament. It was tough. People were saying, `Go do it, go do it' for weeks leading up to it. But I had a great time."

Tryon said he learned as much from his shaky start as he did from yesterday's finish. After fighting his nerves as well as the 41-degree cold and 20-mph wind, all of which contributed to him stumbling through his first nine holes in 7-over-par 43, Tryon played his next 24 holes in 1 under par.

"I hit a lot of solid shots," he said. "I'd hit it solid, and I'd miss it 15 to 20 feet left or right. Then I'd hit it bad, and I hit it right at the pin so it wouldn't get there. I learned how to deal with all the pressure and stuff, and see what it's like when you don't deal with it the right way, like I did the first nine holes.

"It's the kind of thing where you have to stick in there and put everything you've got in your round. I could have given up because I was 7-over after nine holes. In professional golf, that's not very good. I had to make myself realize that it's a long year, it's not that nine holes is going to ruin my whole year."

The scene surrounding Tryon was a bit more serene yesterday. There was a decent-sized gallery, but nothing like Thursday morning. It also helped that he played most of his second round in sparking sunshine and 65-degree temperatures, with no discernible wind.

"It was a little overwhelming [Thursday]," he said. "I got more used to it today."

Said his father, Bill, part of a large entourage of family and friends, "There were a lot of variables that came together on the front nine [Thursday]. It was like an out-of-body experience for him."

Tryon redeemed himself a bit yesterday. After a couple of early bogeys left him 8-over par, Tryon nearly eagled the par-5 13th and tapped in for birdie. He then birdied the par-4 14th and saved his best shot for the par-5 15th hole.

After his drive found its way under a tree, Tryon cut a 4-iron under the branches. The ball sailed over a pond in front of the green and flew the green. He chipped to within 4 feet but with darkness closing in fast, Tryon missed the putt. Not that he could see the hole very well, since he never saw his recovery shot from the rough.

"It was the best shot I never saw, I guess," said Tryon, who trails second-round leader Duffy Waldorf by 18 shots.

Tryon did notice the gallery following him yesterday more than he did on Thursday, particularly a large group of teen-aged girls.

Asked if he saw "the 13-, 14- and 15-year-old girls out there," Tryon smiled. "I saw the 15-year-olds," he said blushing.

Because the PGA Tour prevents him from using his exempt status until he turns 18 on June 2, Tryon will likely not tee it up again before the tour's Florida swing begins late next month. Tryon, who used one of his seven exemptions here, has received exemptions to three events in his home state.

"It's almost going to be like a new first tournament because I have to wait a whole month," Tryon said of the Genuity Championship at Doral in Miami. "I'm going to have to deal with it and learn from this experience and carry it into the next time. I hope I can play before that because I'm in a competitive mind-set right now."

Bill Tryon is eager to see how the oldest of his four children will prepare for his next tournament.

"It's tough being a part-timer on this circuit," the elder Tryon said last night. " ... He's got two strikes against him. It seems bad but it will probably turn out good."

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