Distracted Pate charges early, fades late

Mind on storm damage, he finishes sixth despite not playing for two weeks

Constellation Energy Classic notebook

October 04, 2004|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Jerry Pate started his final round eagle-birdie-birdie, he thought he had something going at the Constellation Energy Classic yesterday at Hayfields Country Club.

As things developed, that burst produced a high-water mark for the Pensacola, Fla., resident who has been laboring recently with much more important high-water problems at home caused by Hurricane Jeanne.

Pate, who nearly withdrew after not playing well in the pro-ams, struggled to shoot a 1-over-par 37 on his first nine in the opening round, but he closed with a 33 on the back nine, then shot 66-69 on the weekend for a 54-hole total of 205, and a tie for sixth.

"I wasn't going to play, I was playing so poorly, but after going 3-under on the back [Friday] and 6-under [Saturday], I thought I might keep it going," he said.

The eagle at No. 1 was a wedge from the fairway. He hit a pitch shot and two-putted at the par-5 second, and hit a 7-iron shot to 10 feet at the third.

"I had it going, but then I started missing putts, even some short ones. I don't think I believed in myself at that point."

From there, he had two birdies and three bogeys, but he said he is not disappointed.

Of the hurricane, he said: "I hadn't hit a ball in the two weeks before this. I spent more time with a chainsaw. Myself, my family, we were all depressed over the losses in Pensacola. A lot of people drowned.

"We boarded up our house and hung in there. We lost some of the roof and about 10 trees."

From here, he and his wife are headed home for a couple of days to try to put some things back together.

Pate, who turned 50 last year, delayed his tour debut until this year after having had shoulder surgery in July 2003. For the year, he has played 24 events and earned $885,440.

Wives chip in, too

The Champions Tour Wives Inc. concluded its 2004 fund-raising efforts over the weekend when it held its annual drawing for prizes at Hayfields.

A total of $105,000 was raised for various charities across the country, and money will be awarded during the 2005 Champions Tour season. Since its inception in 1994, the program has raised more than $2 million.

Et cetera

Mark Johnson, a Southern California native who turned 50 in May, has spent the weeks since then playing Monday qualifiers for Champions Tour events. When he qualified at Wakefield Valley last Monday, it marked his fifth successful try, and he went on to shoot 68 in the final round for 214, and a tie for 45th. ... There were seven eagles yesterday, the most of any round, courtesy of John Bland, runner-up Hale Irwin, Rodger Davis, John Harris, Jay Overton, Pate and Eduardo Romero. ... D.A. Weibring's 66 was his 18th straight round of par or better.

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