On Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, the PGA Tour rookies were on display at Torrey Pines in the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open. Sang-Moon Bae, Jonas Blixt, and John Huh were vying to become the first rookie to post a top-10 finish on Tour this season.
Bae showed that he is a very streaky player indeed. With 14 birdies and an eagle in the first two rounds, Bae found himself in contention to not only finish in the top 10, but even have a chance to win the tournament outright.
Then his third round on Saturday started with 3 bogeys and a double in the first five holes. Just when you thought he was out of the picture, he strung together 4 consecutive birdies to start the back nine, finishing with an even-par 72 for the day. Sunday, however, went the wrong direction–7 bogeys, with only one birdie, and a score of 78.
In the end, Sang-moon Bae finished in a tie for 33rd at 6-under-par.
Blixt opened with a 70 on Thursday and another 70 on Friday–solid and respectable, but nothing to get too excited about. On Saturday, Jonas got hot, played a bogey-free round, and made 7 birdies. His score of 65 was the low round in the entire field on Saturday. Like Bae, however, Blixt struggled to the finish line in Sunday’s final round, with a 75.
Eventually, Blixt was tied for for 22nd at 8-under-par for the tournament.
Picked as a “Rookie to Watch” before the tournament started, Bud Cauley stayed in the middle of the field for the first three rounds, posting scores of 69, 70, and 73. Six birdies in the final round on Sunday brought Cauley up the leaderboard, and, if not for a bogey on the 14th hole, he could have been the first rookie with a top-10 finish in 2012. When it was all over, at 9-under par, Bud Cauley finished in a tie for 13th place.
With 3 eagles and 3 birdies on the first day, posting an 8-under-par score of 64, Huh was among the tournament leaders. In the pressure of being in contention, he held it together pretty well through the second and third rounds, with scores of 71 and 68, to be in the final group on Sunday.
Bogeys on the 12th and 17th holes down the stretch put a top-10 finish in jeopardy. In the rough behind the green in three (on the par-5 18th hole), chipping downhill on a fast green with a chance of the ball going into the water (tournament leader Kyle Stanley had spun an approach into the water just minutes earlier), Huh needed to get up and down in two. The chip was well struck, on line, and fell into the cup for a birdie.
Finally, in the 69th combined start for the 2012 PGA Tour rookies, someone had finished a Tour event in the top 10. John Huh, with rounds of 64, 71, 68 and 74 and an 11-under total of 277, finished in a tie for 6th place.
Harold Andrews has played golf for nearly 50 years (competitively and recreationally) and considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.